Have you ever been out to dinner at a beautiful place to eat and, as the food comes from the kitchen, you notice it’s not exactly what you ordered? Maybe your steak is overcooked. Perhaps your burger doesn’t have the bacon you added. Maybe there’s a side that’s missing.
What do we typically do? We point it out to the server. A lot of us get frustrated with them. Some of us yell. Some of us have some anger because our nice dinner has been disrupted.
But… Who’s at fault?
Is it the server’s fault? It could be. They may not have added the bacon to the burger when you ordered it. But… It might not be their fault.
It could be the kitchen’s fault. Maybe the server was in a hurry and forgot to add the bacon. They’re used to making that burger, but they’re not used to adding the bacon. Maybe they got sidetracked and slightly overcooked your medium-rare steak.
It could be the manager’s fault. Maybe they were in the kitchen, having a bad day, feeling the pressure of trying to push customers through for a higher-profit night, and their demands and pressure distracted the cooks.
Who’s at fault?
Let’s be honest. You don’t know.
This is true in much of our lives. Sociologist, Qualitative Behavioral Researcher, and Author Brene’ Brown helps us understand what happens in our brains during conflict: We see some of the story and, as she suggests, our minds fill in the gaps in the story with things that are not factual. Brene’ indicates that our brain always writes stories where we’re the victim, where we’re the one wronged.
But… could it be that you’re at fault? Maybe you didn’t say “add bacon to that” because you were too distracted from trying to keep your kids in line. Perhaps the way you spoke “medium rare” sounded like “medium well” and the waitress brought you exactly what it seemed like you ordered.
Some questions aren’t helpful. This is one of them.
If you ask the wrong question, you’ll always get the wrong answer.
In moments of conflict, if you ask the question “Who’s at fault?” it leaves you with a horrible posture… assuming it’s someone else’s fault.
Few problems are wholly not your fault. Most issues are a combination of yours and somebody else’s fault. Then, there are a few problems that are entirely yours.
When you’re in a moment of conflict is easy to blame others, to point fingers, and to shift the focus from yourself. It’s tough to look at yourself.
As a young Christian, I remember James Robinson said, “Every time I had a conflict with my kids as a parent, I looked at myself, first. I asked myself, ‘What did you do, what could you have done to contributed to this situation?”
That’s helpful. Those are better questions.
What can I learn about myself from this moment?
What did I do to contribute to this problem and this conflict?
What can I do to bring honesty, healing, and hope to this situation?
Can I just simply own this problem and be the solution?
Maybe that seems like the most impossible thing to do: to own a problem that, at the moment, appears to be everyone else’s problem, to accept responsibility for a failure that definitely wasn’t all yours, and to take the blame.
But… That’s what Jesus did for you.
He made your problems, His problems. He made your sin, His sin. He took your burdens and made them His burdens.
That’s what Jesus did. That’s what we should do, too.
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What issue in your life do you need to take ownership over?