Do you ever watch or listen to TED Talks? I think they are fascinating, and I love how people are able to convey thought-provoking ideas and new technology in an accessible and often times funny manner. I once watched a talk on dinosaurs that had me in stitches. Who knew dinosaurs and fossils could be funny? Who knew that some dinosaurs may actually be the juvenile counterpart to another dinosaur rather than an entirely different species? And who knew you could discover this by examining sliced dinosaur skulls. Fascinating I tell you!!
Anyway, enough about extinct reptiles... This morning I listened to a talk on vulnerability and relationships, given by Brené Brown. She said something about blame that caused me to really stop and ponder. In actuality, it was more of a plausible definition.
Blame - a way to discharge pain and discomfort
Hmm... I've never quite thought of it like that before. I talk a lot with my boys about "blame shifting." When my temper or frustration doesn't get the best of me (maybe 50% of the time, if I'm honest), I have the soundness of mind to ask them to stop and think a bit before they speak about an argument, giving them some needed time to process.
"I am going to ask you about YOUR part in this disagreement," I convey to them. "Then you can let me know how your brother was involved."
I don't want to just hear the 'He hit me and scratched me' bit, I want to hear the 'I was provoking him by holding a toy out of his reach, and then he hit me and scratched me.' Otherwise, it just tends to be blame shifting and we don't really get down to the root of the problem and ultimately changed behavior. We might also miss the opportunity to discuss cause and effect, the Golden Rule, and responding in love. Most importantly, I want them to learn to take responsibility for their own actions instead of diverting attention away from any wrong they themselves have done.
While I think these are good, healthy ways to deal with arguments and blame, I'm am realizing that for some reason, I occasionally allow people to place blame on me whether there was something to legitimately blame me for or not. Not until now have I thought of blame as a way a person could discharge their own pain and discomfort, and I realize that I sometimes allow myself to be the recipient of blame that is not even my own.
You see, I like being able to help others with their pain and discomfort, and to share their burden... I think that is part of who God uniquely created me to be. But there are times when I will not only help share the burden, but I will somehow turn it into my own responsibility and guilt so that the other person can feel better and doesn't have to change whatever responsibility he/she may have on his/her end. I take it all on, and I start trying to come up with my own reasons to apologize, so everything can go back to being "calm and peaceful." Only it's not... it then becomes my own silent turmoil. And the problem doesn't disappear, it is just shifted.
I like what Paul said in his letter to the Philippians:
"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."
I'm going to start praying this for myself. I would definitely be better off with more love, knowledge, depth of insight and discernment, especially in knowing when God might be using someone's pain and discomfort to bring them to another level of holiness and refinement. I'm recognizing some areas where I may, in reality, be in God's way, and I pray that He teaches me when and where I just need to step aside, instead of camping out in His path. Truth be told, I really don't like camping anyway... I'm horrible at it! I would much rather pray from home and let God pitch His tabernacle where He sees fit and wait for Him to invite me over!
Have you ever struggled with these issues?
Is there a particular TED Talk that inspired you or caused you to think differently?