Reclaimed Perspective: Living With Other People’s Failures

Can I be honest with you without you judging me? Ah well, I’ll just be honest with you and let you do with it as you will. Because this is about me, not you. You probably don’t deal with this problem.

Here is my honest confession: I routinely get wrapped up in other people’s issues. (Not yours of course, just other people’s). My perfectionist and type-A personality leave me little room for grace for mistakes – either my own or other people’s. And, more than I like to admit, I fall into the blame-game instead of focusing on how to simply fix or mend an issue and move on. (i.e. yelling “WHO DUMPED THE BLOCKS ALL OVER THE FLOOR” instead of simply asking everyone to chip in and clean them up).

This leads to serious issues in my own attitude, because I can’t easily let go of other people’s problems. They just continue to bug me… and then not just to bug me, but they begin to define the other person in my head. (She is the one who just can’t remember/do/act whatever/however).

How do you live in peace with others – your children, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, your spouse – when you can’t let go of a list of their failures?

Fact: you can’t.

You cannot live in unity and peace with people who you cannot forgive.

Dangit. This is a discouraging thing to discover, when it really sinks in.

I had lots of time to think on our recent road trip, and here is where I landed on this dilemma: I cannot fix anyone else, as much as I try. I cannot “fix” my child’s attitude or my spouse’s, or my friend’s words that hurt me. The only thing that I can fix is my own response – which all too often is more self-righteous, envious, and judgmental than I would like to admit. [But that, ironically, I am admitting to you now].

So my new reminder to myself is this. OWN IT, Becka! Own your OWN issues instead of other people’s. Own your own jealousy, your anger, your bitterness, your unforgiveness. Child/spouse/friend/acquaintance will have to deal with their own junk, because I can’t do it for them. But I can control mine – and I intend to.

How about this. I know that you, dear reader, don’t struggle with these things as much as I do. But could we make a deal? I promise not to hang onto your failures or tattoo them onto my memory of you if you will do the same for me. And I promise to take responsibility of my own “junk”… and to let you deal with yours in your own way and on your own terms.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t try to resolve conflict or say something when I’ve been hurt, but it means that I will focus more of my energy on my own failings than on yours.


“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

-Matthew 7:1-5


P.S. There are times when this message does NOT apply – as in instances where a spouse or parent is acting manipulatively, aggressively, and/or abusively. In these cases, you’ve got to “own” your own safety and health, and remove yourself from the person who is attempting to control you. 

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