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The Blame Game

Why is it always someone else’s fault?

-Madeleine Turner-

When was the last time you played the blame game? Notice I didn’t ask you if you’ve ever played it. Because if you’re human, chances are you’ve been playing the blame game since you could talk. You only have to spend a few minutes in a children’s playground to see the blame game in full force: “It’s not my fault. She started it.” We can even blame our tendency to play this game on Adam and Eve. After all, they started it!

We all make mistakes, but sometimes it’s easier to assign blame to someone or something rather than take responsibility for it. We’ve become so adept at excusing our behaviour and lessening our guilt that, often, we’re not even aware when we’re doing it!

I’ve become very accomplished at the blame game, especially since we welcomed our first child into the world last summer. Our daughter has become the scapegoat for everything, from being late to explaining why it’s difficult to socialise at night.

And for the most part these excuses are entirely legitimate. Babies are unpredictable. They turn your neat little world upside down. Well-intentioned plans to get out the door on time are sometimes thwarted by an explosive nappy and multiple outfit changes.

But there’s one thing I can’t blame on our baby. And that’s how I respond to the daily challenges that she unintentionally creates. Because how I respond reveals a great deal about the underlying heart attitudes directing my behaviour.

The heart is the engine room of what we do, say and think (Prov. 4:23). It directs the body, mind, will, emotions and conscience. While Christians are declared righteous in Christ, we still battle with our sinful nature. That is why Scripture warns us to “guard” our hearts, because we are prone to wander from the truth. Our hearts cannot be understood by human wisdom. They are deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9).

Perhaps that is one reason why we are so quick to blame everything but ourselves for our sin. As C.S. Lewis once observed: “It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves.” How easy it is to believe our vain rationalisations when we blame our road rage on the slow driver ahead of us; when we justify our impatience with the “difficult” relative at Christmas; or excuse our greed during SALE time!

I never realised how sinful I was until I became a mother.

We need God to lay bare our sinful thoughts and desires. He does this through His Word, the ministry of the Holy Spirit and through the trials and temptations of life. His goal is to sanctify us, to make us holy (Christlike). And He uses many of the day-today circumstances of life to expose the sin buried deep within our hearts, to wean us from the world and drive us to the cross.

I never realised how sinful I was until I became a mother. I often blamed moments of irritability, discontent, worry and impatience on sleep deprivation and an unpredictable baby. But these are merely symptoms of the many idols that lie stowed within my heart: pride, comfort, self, and the desire to be in control. Yet through the challenges, inconveniences and sacrifices that parenthood involves, God is teaching me that true satisfaction and joy are found in Him alone.

Being confronted with our sin is painful. But friends, as we enter a new year, let us cling to the grace and hope we have in Christ, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

Madeleine Turner attends Ashfield Presbyterian Church

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