I cannot remember a time when I didn’t have a fairly hefty sense of responsibility. Perhaps this had to do with a thrifty, Scotch-English upbringing, or being the eldest child, or simply the ethos of my family. Regardless of its origins, I have a well-developed need to do things, and do them right. As a result, I’ve often found myself in charge of activities and projects, and tend to take charge in daily life.
If asked, Henry would probably tell you that I’m quite over-responsible. I micromanage him more often than he would like—and, truth be told, more often than I would prefer, if I wasn’t acting on a combination of instinct and habit. One of the reasons I work very hard on being more conscious in the way I live my life is because I don’t want to be a mother hen or a “pain in the tail” to the people in my life.
One reason I’ve found this habit hard to release is because that over-responsibility was an asset in my work life. Bosses and organizations knew they could count on me to follow through. I was rewarded for being that way.
Over the years, however, I believe it began to wear on me (and on Henry!), in slow and subtle ways. I began to resist and resent my own actions, and to notice similar over-responsibility and micromanaging in others. One of the gifts of becoming my own boss that, by its very nature, editing is micromanaging, so I can get my “fix” there, with words, rather than in relationships.
However it has happened, one clear result has been a tendency to find myself thinking, in many situations, “I am not in charge.” As I mentioned last week, this is one of two sayings which are slowly and steadily becoming habitual my life. Looking at situations and saying, appropriately(!), “I don’t get to know” and “I am not in charge” has allowed me to step back at times when I would have reached in to meddle in the past.
This is truly freeing for me. Recognizing—discerning—what is actually mine to do is hard-earned wisdom. It also allows me to focus my limited attention and energy on what God is calling me to do.
What hard-earned wisdom has arisen for you in recent months or years?
How are you evolving over the course of your life?