My husband and I were arguing about something minor: the mess on the table, his misplaced wallet, what time we were leaving to go to the store.
At once, I grew weary of the argument. We’ve had these minor back-and-forths countless times – we’ve been married for one hundred and forty years. Okay, sometimes it sure FEELS like it.
I hurriedly said “I’m sorry” just to get it over with. The argument ended and we moved on. Later, I started to stew. How did we get to this point, where I was all too ready to shoulder the blame, and he without hesitation allowed me to take it despite his part in it? How many times had I apologized in the past just to end a confrontation with not only him, but friends, family members, and my own children? Even if I didn’t feel sorry in the first place?
At that moment, I decided it was enough.
I thought about how I would feel if I saw my son or daughter do the very same thing I did – apologize for something they didn’t do. It made me mad. I love my husband, but don’t I also love myself?
One of my favorite Bible verses is Romans 12:18 - If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. It is sort of my life motto. I can have a flash of a temper, but it burns out quickly. This verse reminds me that it is better to be kind and conflict-free than pick fights with those around us, a valuable lesson in marriage. We may not be able to control how people respond to us, but our part is to live in peace with those around us, as much as we can.
I’m not always great at the peacekeeping, but I found that I was a pro at peacemaking – just accept the blame and move on.
But that tactic has repercussions if abused. My need for peacemaking had come with a great price. Over the years, my own worth had been chipped away by this behavior. My self-esteem and self-confidence flagged. If there was blame to be given, I opened my arms to accept it all.
And I started to believe that I was a terrible person.
I knew that God made me in his image, that Jesus died for me, and that all my efforts for God are used by him for good in the world. So what was so bad about me?
First, I allowed myself to be marginalized by not only my husband and those around me, but that I saw myself, a creation of God himself, as less than. As worthy only of blame for the mistakes that happen. And – worse – I was teaching my children that it was someone’s role in the family – the mother, the female – to be weak and the source of all the mistakes that are made. I was teaching them that someone had to be the scapegoat, and as long as there was a scapegoat around, no one else had to bear responsibility for their actions.
What a load of crap. None of these are lessons that God wants me to impart.
I believe that God wants me to know that I am worthy, that I am his unique creation, that I was placed here in this very spot and at this very time to do his work, no matter how much or little. I believe that he can do great things through me, even without me knowing it. I believe that he will use me for the good of his Kingdom. I believe that I have the responsibility to tell others about his gift of Jesus and what he can do for them by sharing what he has done for me.
These are the lessons that God has for me, for my children, and for theirs.
These days in our house, there is not much false blame assumption going on, though sometimes it does rear its ugly head. Thankfully our children are wise enough to call us on it. “Don’t take blame for that,” my daughter recently said to my husband when he apologized to me for something he didn’t do wrong.
We both smiled; he was actually joking. But the lesson was learned.
And I thank God for that.
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.Ephesians 1:4-11 (NLT)