How Blaming Harms Everyone
It's no way to live.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
If God had brought some good influences into my son’s life, this tragedy would not have happened.
I blame the youth pastor for my loss. He failed my son.
If I had affirmed my son more, he would not have taken his life.
Those were my blame statements. Some of them anyway. I blamed God, others, and myself.
God’s sovereignty (which means all things are under His control) and power usually encourage the believer. When we add the fact that God loves us, we can rest in His care. But when life is difficult, the once-comforting truths become painful.
Why didn’t You stop this disaster? we ask God.
Questions can lead us away from God and our faith if our attitude is accusing and not humble.
When my 20-year-old son died by suicide, I questioned God. Some days I stopped asking questions and ignored Him. I was angry and resentful. I did not understand why He would allow such an awful thing to happen.
Over the months and years, God has worked in my life. One day I realized, I don’t have to understand. This loss in my life does not mean that God is not in control, or that God is not all-powerful, or that God does not love me. It means I live in a broken world and I don’t understand everything.
Because I did not want to live in anger and bitterness, I set aside my blame. I decided to trust God. My faith cannot be based on my life experiences. Faith must be based on the Bible, even when life doesn’t make sense from my limited perspective.
I still question God sometimes. I even give Him the silent treatment. But I will not walk away from Him. He is my life.
Blaming everyone and everything
I blamed everyone for my son’s death. I never expressed it, but I kept a long list of blame in my mind. I blamed others for not being more kind, or not noticing he had depression, or making life difficult for him in some way.
Eventually the burden became too great, so I focused my blame on one person – the former youth pastor. I knew I should forgive him. When resentful thoughts came, I prayed, “God help me forgive him.” This went on for months. Mentally, I tried to forgive, but the grudge never left.
God used scripture to change my heart — to help me be ready to forgive both emotionally and as an act of my will. I contacted the youth pastor. My husband and I met with him. I asked his forgiveness for resenting him for what I thought he should have done.
Thoughts of blame toward others seldom come to my mind anymore. I realize those I blamed did not intentionally hurt my son. They were imperfect and therefore failed. Even had they not been negligent, the outcome may not have been different.
Besides blaming God and others, I blamed myself. In my son’s childhood, I was attentive to his needs and alert to threats to his safety. When the ultimate form of harm – death – came, I searched my memory for clues — for what I may have missed.
Comments and conflicts, when taken individually, did not concern me when they occurred. But in hindsight, they clearly pointed to the fact that something was wrong.
My husband and I knew next to nothing about suicide. We started reading and learned most suicide victims have an underlying mental illness. Later, we learned our son had been struggling with depression and suicidal thinking. If we could do it over, we would pay more attention to the area of mental health. But, at the time, we had done our best.
These memories of self-blame still attack. I can block some with the thought I did my best with the resources I had. But for many of my failings, I did know better.
How do I handle justifiable blame? By admitting I am imperfect and need forgiveness. Accepting the past and moving on to the present. Resolving to learn from my mistakes and love others better as a result. Receiving God’s forgiveness. Forgiving myself. In the end, to not forgive myself when God has already forgiven me is saying I know better than God does.
Blame, even after a tragedy, whether the blame is toward God, others, or yourself, is no way to live.
Pray this week:
Father, I trust You even when life is difficult. Please give me a forgiving spirit toward others and myself.
Are you blaming God for the pain in your life? Do you need to set aside the things you don’t understand and trust that God is good and that He loves you? In what areas of your life do you need to extend forgiveness to others and to yourself?