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Owning Our Problems
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a variety of newspapers. Here's this week's. Read the update below the column; I regret some of it now. But it's a little late to have second thoughts! Sorry, too, that I'm late posting this. I had to leave home early this morning to drive to Barrie, Ontario, where my husband and I are speaking at a marriage conference this weekend. We're now happily at home in our room, and I thought I'd take a moment to upload this!

The British press was all agog a while back with the story of the Chawner family, whom the Daily Mail deemed “The Real Teletubbies”. The parents, together with their two daughters, 19 and 21, live off of welfare because, they claim, they are “too fat to work”. They have obesity related health issues, and assert that there is no way out of their terrible situation. By their own admission, they spend their days watching television and eating junk food, since everything else is too expensive.

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe. If we’re too fat, it’s because we have bad genes, not because we don’t eat well. If we can’t make our payments, it’s the greedy banks’ fault for giving us credit cards in the first place. If we’re finding it hard to get by on government assistance with our three kids by different fathers, it’s the government’s fault for not giving us more, rather than our fault for not waiting until we were in a stable marriage to have children.

I think it’s time for a cold dose of owning up to our problems. All of us have made mistakes. The wiser admit it, learn from those mistakes, and try to act responsibly so that we can be happier, healthier, and more productive. The more foolish insist on always blaming others for their position in life. And if it’s always someone else’s fault, then there’s really nothing you can do to better your life, is there? You’re stuck, and things will never get better.

If we’ve made mistakes, life is going to be harder. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the work. It’s hard to lose weight, but I know a woman who has recently shed 150 pounds, and she glows. It’s hard to rebuild your life when you began having children at 16, and you have no education, but what’s the alternative? Do you want to be stuck forever in a welfare cycle, with a revolving door of unsavoury men coming in and out of your life?

It’s hard to quit alcohol. It’s hard to break a drug addiction. And often we turn to those things because we were severely hurt as children. Instead of receiving love from our parents, we received insults, smacks, and even worse, complete neglect. Some definitely have a harder road to walk. Just because something is harder, though, does not mean it’s impossible. And the more we keep excusing bad behaviour, the harder we make it for people to actually change direction and start taking responsibility for their own lives.

The government can’t make you into a responsible citizen. It can’t rescue you from bad personal decisions. Others can encourage you to get an education, offer to help you learn to parent, teach you to save, teach you to be pickier when choosing a mate, teach you how to lose weight. But you have to be the one to act on it. No one else can do that for you. If you’re always waiting for someone else to fix your life, you’re going to be waiting a long time.

There shouldn’t be shame in having problems or in having made mistakes in the past. We all do that. The shame should come when we blame others for those mistakes and we don’t do what we can to help ourselves now. Let’s own our problems, stop being victims, and build our lives again. If we don’t, we’re just creating a culture where everything is somebody else’s fault. And that would be a shame, indeed.


I wish I hadn't included "teach you how to lose weight" in the second last paragraph. I really didn't mean to lump it in with the other things; I was just trying to wrap it up and tie it in with the first paragraph. But I know many who struggle to lose weight who aren't anything like the Chawners family, and I didn't mean to equate them. So I wish I had left that out. But it's too late now! So accept my apologies if you're reading this and you're offended. It was dumb.


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3 Comments:

At 9:39 AM , Blogger Tara said…

Amen and Amen.

 

At 2:01 PM , Blogger Karen (Forgiven and Loved) said…

This paragraph:
There shouldn’t be shame in having problems or in having made mistakes in the past. We all do that. The shame should come when we blame others for those mistakes and we don’t do what we can to help ourselves now. Let’s own our problems, stop being victims, and build our lives again. If we don’t, we’re just creating a culture where everything is somebody else’s fault. And that would be a shame, indeed.


Wow! So so so so true! I heard (at a FamilyLife conference actually) that you need to own up to 100% of your part of the problem. For example... if your husband is having an affair, it's *not* your fault, he is CHOOSING to sin, but you DO have to own up to 100% of your 10% of the problem. Or whatever the case may be.

Great article!

 

At 2:41 AM , Blogger camilynn said…

An insightfull post on "Owning Our Problems".I'm using the methods from http://debtfreeliving.lose20.com to reduce weight and it really works.

Thanks,
Gladwin- Lose 20 - Losing weight may save your life

 
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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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