Day 4 from I Can’t Rest Now, Lord! I’m Responsible
by Gena Bradford
Being Responsive, Not Responsible
In the midst of burnout recovery, God spoke to my heart, declaring, “You are not responsible for everything and everyone; I AM! I just want you to be responsive to My love and leading.”
Responsive, not responsible! That was a paradigm shift for me. I’d always felt responsible, except toward my own self-care. I didn’t feel that I had a right to put myself first for any reason. I believed I was responsible for the happiness and safety of others, especially my family. So, I worked—I should say overworked.
That orphan feeling that I could never do enough pervaded my life, even when I became a parent. One Christmas morning, after all the abundant gifts were opened and my children were happily playing, I slipped into the bathroom and cried, because I felt I hadn’t done enough for them; I wasn’t enough.
Sadly, there are other examples. I never hesitated to buy my children the in- style clothes they wanted for school, yet I wore “high-water” pants years before they became popular. I worked as a daycare provider to pay for their music lessons, soccer, and dance classes, but never took a class for myself. My time out was a trip to the grocery store, where I’d spend a few minutes looking at magazines but never buying one, believing it was a frivolous expense.
The role of “responsible” followed me through all the years of child rearing and working as a teacher, until I “crashed” physically, no longer able to be everyone’s support system. How little I knew that I was trying to play God. I had forgotten that I was God’s kid, and He wanted to take care of me.
This gift of burnout became a new building site for the Lord. He would lay a foundation of truth, line upon line, precept upon precept, as the Bible declares. He would manifest my true identity.
One of the first truths would be to exchange yokes with Jesus, who said that His yoke was easy and light. I affirmed on a heart level that He was and is the author of life. I repented of trying to be God. It was oppressively heavy to believe that I could actually save someone, or that I needed to save someone, in order to feel safe myself. I cried when I realized that I had not trusted in God’s great love to meet all our needs.
I took off the “I’m Responsible” T-shirt and put on the “I’m Responsive” one, so that I could be led by love, peace, and joy, not guilt or fear. If God initiates, then I’ll have the passion, peace, and energy to follow through; I won’t be doing life in my own strength or wisdom, or for the approval of others. Now, I check in with Jesus before I say yes to anything, to see if I have His peace about it. There will be a joy in saying yes if He’s in it. If there’s heaviness, it’s not my call.
Responsiveness is a world of difference from feeling responsible. It’s gentle, and the Helper, the Holy Spirit, will enable us to do it.
Gena Bradford • I Can’t Rest Now, Lord! I’m Responsible…
I’m Responsible Traits
- Makes life safe for everyone.
- Makes everyone happy.
- Performs well to earn love and acceptance.
- Appears to never tire: runs on adrenaline (but you are tired).
- Is brave at all times, even when sad.
- Is good and helpful to avoid rejection.
- Rescues and takes care of everything; is responsible.
- There’s no time to play; too much to do.
- Puts self-care last and hides their dreams away.
I’m Responsive Traits
- Gives responsibility for all back to original owner: God. Now co-creates.
- Responsive to the Holy Spirit.
- Rolls every care on the Lord.
- Knows they are loved perfectly by God.
- Doesn’t try to measure up to others’ expectations: free to be oneself, relaxed, cares, but doesn’t carry.
- Trusts God with their loved ones, and to be their provider.
- Believes that God can redeem everything, even their mistakes.
- Has no fear of failing God, and has no fear of abandonment.
- Enjoys life: takes time for self-care, to play, to nap, and to see beauty.
- Pulls their dreams out of the box and begins to live them. Creates again.
Are you ready to shed the “I’m Responsible” T-shirt and give it back to God? Let’s ask Him to help us. Then, write down 10 things that you like doing now or loved doing as a kid. Pick one of them, and do it today. I took up bike riding again! Tree climbing seemed too perilous for my older bones. I also joined a tap grammas class.
If what you are doing is not bringing you joy, examine your motives for doing it.
Precious Father God, forgive me for not fully trusting You. I’m sorry. I proclaim that You are Almighty God, and You only ask me to wait upon You, learn from You, and respond to Your leading. Help me to do what You’ve asked of me. I’m tired of feeling responsible for every- thing and everyone. I give you back the T-shirt. I only want to come into Your rest. Your Word tells me that those who wait upon You shall rise up with wings like an eagle, walk and not be weary, run and not faint (Isaiah 40:31). That’s what I want. Teach me to wait, to listen, and I’ll respond. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Scripture Focus and Words of Wisdom
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”—Isaiah 30:15 NKJ
“The greatest burden we have to carry in life, the most difficult thing we have to manage is self—our emotions, our private weaknesses, concerns, worries, cares—all of which rob our joy. But in laying them down—lay down self. Hand over yourself and all your concerns into the care and keeping of your God, and leave them there. He made you; therefore, He surely understands you and knows how to manage you. Trust Him to do it.”—Catherine Jackson, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life for Today: Paraphrase of Hannah Whitall Smith’s Classic (1979)
“I have taken for my motto, ‘not overwork, but overflow.’ Already it has made all the difference in my life. There is no effort in overflow.”—L.B. Cowman