The really amazing thing about this book is that I didn’t fully realize why I wrote it until I finished it yesterday. All along, I thought I was finishing an incomplete story, but as I typed the final sentence, it occurred to me: it wasn’t just about tying up loose ends; it was about personal responsibility. Almost every character in Move made poor judgments that followed through with bad decisions, and it was time for them to stand up to it – because really, that’s the only way any of them could really and truly move on.
Personal responsibility – what an unpopular topic! I probably just scared away my entire readership by saying my current work in progress is about that dirty concept!
I don’t think any of us would argue that personal responsibility is an issue that a lot of people have a problem with. We all know people that cast the blame for everything wrong with their life on others and how they’ve failed. If only this person did this, or that person did that, or these people were more attentive to my needs, or if I could finally get the upper hand on that uppity person, then my life would be better. Many people have too many expectations and too little acceptance in life, and as a result, they’re perpetually miserable, constantly in conflict with others, and angry at the world.
Personal responsibility isn’t a popular subject because it points to the one inevitable fact that none of us like: scientists have found the center of the universe, and it’s not me. It's not you. It's not any human being. The throne we think we sit on in our life is already occupied, and God isn't moving over for any mere mortal.
I heard the DJ on BBN this morning talking about how Christians are supposed to live wanting to serve God’s will. I think this is the core of personal responsibility. You’re living in God’s will, and there’s nothing you can do to change it. Veer off the path, and He’ll rewrite it to what He wants, but it will be harder. Because doing what’s wrong never leads to what’s right.
Certainly, there are times when we find ourselves at odds with other people, circumstances, or situations. Life isn’t perfect and in fact, we’re promised that problems will come. But we don’t have to make it worse with bad decisions that create unnecessary drama. Life will give you enough problems. I know I’m not in the market for any more problems, especially self-imposed ones or ones that aren’t my business. Are you?
One amazing thing I saw as Rearview Mirror developed is how four characters who were loosely connected and often at odds in Move came together to face the culmination of their problems. Throughout Move, these characters were in conflict, trying to one up, set up, or dodge one another in an isolated scramble to get what they wanted. Rearview Mirror brought them back together and forced them confront a new antagonist that took advantage of the chaos their poor choices created. They had to make a decision: keep fighting and go down one by one, or work together to make things right. Even I was surprised by some of the decisions they made, given their unbreakable stubbornness in Move. But I have to stop here, lest I give too much away. You’ll just have to wait until it’s published to find out what happened!
And so, on this second week of Lent, I ponder what personal responsibility means to me, and how my journey through Rearview Mirror reflects my own life. Certainly, we’ve all had times when we stubbornly pursued our own way, just to be broken by the very thing we hoped to defeat. We don’t understand that everything has bigger reasons, and that being part of a bigger plan means that sometimes things help and sometimes they hurt. Humility comes at a high price if you place any value on pride. Ah, but pride is one of the deadly sins, so is breaking it really a loss?
Jesus spent 40 days in the desert being tempted by Satan and standing for what He knew was right, but in reality that battle isn’t limited to times and seasons. It’s something we face every day, in situations big and small, and we alone are responsible for which way we decide. C.S. Lewis once wrote that every decision we make takes us one step closer to Heaven or one step closer to hell, but the decision is ours to make each and every time. This is what personal responsibility is really about. Are your decisions taking you in the direction you want to go? If not, only you can reset the sails. In the end, each of us is ultimately responsible for our own soul.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a good rest of the week.