Cody Hardin
I have talked several times before about how much I love psychology and philosophy. You
may ask yourself why I talk about those two things so often. The answer is simple: I’m not that
interesting and don’t have that much to talk about. One of the reasons I love studying those two
disciplines is because I love figuring out why people are the way they are. I love meeting my
friend’s parents for the first time and realizing, “Oh, that’s why they do that!” As a youth
minister, I feel like part of my job is learning how different situations affect children’s futures.
Finding what works well and what doesn’t and trying to create a program of things to help them
to turn out the best they can. If you are a parent, I’m sure you’ve had the same kind of thoughts.
I know since CB came along, I’ve started thinking about it even more.

I’ve heard it said that “we are a culmination of all our past experiences.” In other words,
when you add up all the things we’ve experienced, that’s what makes us who we are. That’s a
scary idea for any parent, teacher, coach, youth minister, or really anyone who has any dealing
with children. Any mistake you make with them could completely throw their lives off track.
(When I write articles like this part of me wants to just end it here where it’s super depressing).

I don’t really like the idea that stated in the paragraph above, however. I think if you look at
studies, you’ll find that that statement isn’t true. People can experience the exact same thing
and take it completely differently. For instance, there has been tons of research done on kids
dealing with divorce and the results vary as much as it is possible to. Granted, there are no two
people who have experienced the same things before the divorce, but the fact remains that there
is more at play than you being pushed and pulled around the earth and that deciding what kind
of person you are.

I recently heard this quote reframed in a different light. “I am my interpretation of my
experiences.” Because although two people may experience the same things, they will interpret
them in different ways. This, I think, puts a level of personal responsibility back into the
equation. Everyone everywhere has bad things happen to them, it’s how they respond that
matters. That’s why you see teenagers overseas being sold into slavery with better dispositions
than those who get the wrong color car for their birthdays.

I’ve talked before about Christians being optimists or pessimists, but that’s not exactly what
I mean here. Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only
such as is good for building up…” If God gives us that kind of instructions for talking to others
don’t you think the same applies for what goes on in our head. Phil. 4:8, “Finally, brothers
whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think
about these things.” What do you dwell on? The positive or the negative?

God tells us these things because He knows that they could make the difference in how you
act as a Christian. I’ve said before that one of the most dangerous sins is the sin of pride. Pride
does not allow you to admit your own mistakes. Pride demands that if you are lazy,
uninformed, angry, sinful, or just all around not the person you want to be, it must be the fault
of someone else. You see so many who blame their parents for the way they act as adults.
There is some part in all of us that despises hearing that. No matter what happened to you, no
matter how bad it may seem, you still make the choices that turn into your actions.

The good news is it’s not too late. “You are an INTERPRETATION of the experiences
you’ve had.” You still have time to change. If you were to ever go to therapy, it’s likely they
will use something call cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. CBT doesn’t seek to fix the
situation you are in, but rather to change the way you view it. By changings the way you view
it, change your actions and your mental state. A great deal of the time this includes taking
responsibility for the things which led you into the state you are currently in. Because when
you take responsibly for where you are, you take responsibility for getting out of that state.

I’ve always seen it as a strange relationship between how God helps us through situations,
but we shouldn’t be lazy and expect Him to do it for us. People often say, “God helps those
who help themselves” like it’s a part of scripture, but you’ll never found it in there. Many
people take the absence of a verse that says this exact thing to mean that God will take care of
all of our problems and we sit back and do nothing. However, the verses we do find like
Romans 6:1 or 2 Thess. 3:7-13 tell us that there is still hard work to be done as Christians. I
encourage you, if you are struggling in your life right now, as so many are, take responsibility
for yourself, lean on God, and change it.

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