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Blame games

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By Nancy Kennedy

My daughter Alison writes a blog, “The Neurotic Housewife” (www.neuroticalison.wordpress.com).
Recently she fumed about a woman named Beverly who, unknowingly — or maybe not — “stole” her spot at the gym. Alison wrote:
“I’ve been going to my gym for three years. And for three years, I’ve had a spot in the group exercise room. Front row, because I hate being surrounded by people, and to the left, because the mirrors on the left side of the room make me look long and lean; the mirrors on the right, for whatever reason, make me look short and dumpy.
“It’s unspoken, but people know where my spot is. Likewise, other class participants have their favorite spots as well. If you’re in the know, and are even the slightest bit aware and concerned, you leave other people’s spots alone. It’s common gym courtesy.
“For the past few months, there’s been someone who always takes my spot. She used to park herself in other places around the room, but lately, she’s honed in on MY spot. And I don’t like it one bit.
“It’s MY spot. Not hers. MINE.
“Everyone else knows it. People have even commented on it. Well, one person did…. It’s not technically my spot. I don’t pay for it. I wasn’t awarded custody of it. It’s public property. But it’s still mine. In my heart and in my soul. It’s mine.
“She’s a nice enough lady. I certainly don’t want to harbor such hatred and animosity towards a member of the senior citizens community. But I cannot help it. It’s my spot.”
Alison went on to gripe about a few other things and ended with: “I’m not sure what put me in such a mood today. Wait, I know. Beverly (that’s her name) keeps taking my spot… (I’ll just) blame Beverly.”
Before you go hating on my daughter, I know she wrote this blog post tongue in cheek and fully aware that her beef with Beverly was based in self-centeredness.
And really, aren’t we all guilty of that?
Her blog readers posted comments, with one asking, “Can I blame Beverly for the market not having my favorite cinnamon cereal? And for photos that turn out terrible? And the IRS? And sleazy politicians?”
Another suggested we all wear “Blame Beverly” T-shirts. The kids on “South Park” blamed Canada. We can blame Beverly.
Blame is nothing new. In the first pages of the Bible, when Eve ate the forbidden fruit and gave it to Adam to eat, and then when God confronted them, Eve blamed the snake who tricked her into eating it and Adam blamed God while also throwing his wife under the bus: “The woman you gave me….”
In the series of sermons I’ve been listening to about addictions and strongholds in our lives, a recent one dealt with the need to blame others. In it the pastor said blaming someone else for our situation may make us feel better about ourselves, but there will never be progress made. Nothing gets fixed or resolved if all we’re doing is pointing fingers and saying, “It’s your fault.”
He said, “Who cares whose fault it is? Let’s just fix the problem!”
The pastor added, “Even if you have a legitimate basis for your hurt, someone truly did wrong to you, a continual entertainment of that hurt keeps you in bondage.”
Blaming others makes you a victim, and if you’re in Christ, you’re not a victim. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
That also goes for blaming yourself. It’s one thing to accept responsibility for your part in a problem and then confess it and receive forgiveness. It’s another to wallow in guilt. If Christ has forgiven you, who are you to say, “I don’t care if you’ve forgiven me. I’m still going to keep feeling guilty. I’m still going to blame myself”?
That’s slapping God in the face.
To that I say stop it! Stop blaming and do what you can to fix your situation as you trust God to lead you.
As for Beverly, my daughter has concluded that there’s not a whole lot she can do except get to the gym earlier.
Or, in the power of Christ, let it go.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria — I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at (352) 564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.