I used to refer to responsibility as the “R” word. When I was 17 or 18, I loathed it. Isn’t it funny how something you loathe can quickly become something not only that you decide is good, but that you take on to a fault?
This is what happened to me. Somewhere along the line, the “R” word became the adjective that I would put at the beginning of my name to play that “Get to know you game” that RA’s use for their floor during freshman year of college. Responsible Rachel, that’s me.
Now, if you would have asked me if that is what I LIKED to be called, I would have psh-ed at you and given you a smirky "are you serious?!" look with a roll of the eyes. But, somehow, over the years, Responsible Rachel became more of a definition rather than a description, and an identity more than an identifier.
In the last three week, Responsible Rachel has been thrown into a tizzy seeing that despite her best effort, this fallacy she believes to be true, is actually quite the opposite of true. To her shock and somewhat annoyance, She can hardly believe that she is not responsible for every person, every dish that needs cleaned on the counter, every problem happening in people's lives, and every perception of herself.
The unraveling of Responsible Rachel came in the form of physical anxiety, a perceived false heart attack on a plane. While Responsible Rachel became “Checking my Respiratory breathing and Rate of Heart Rachel" in seat 19D, in the back of her mind she thought, I hope that old redneck sort of a guy across the isle doesn’t have to become responsible if I have a heart attack. What is that! In the midst of my physical angst, I was thinking about how the guy across the isle would feel if I had a heart attack, deciding I would be responsible for his angst!
Something is seriously wrong with that picture. And with my thinking.
When I realized Responsible Rachel was not having a heart attack, just a break down, I quickly tried to pull it together, followed by a phone call to my Medical Mother, followed by a series of days where I actually couldn’t pull it together as I seeked help from a counselor, a doctor, friends and family.
Now, three weeks later, I am still struggling some with anxiety and learning how much of what I think I’m worth is wrapped up in how responsible I am. Thankfully, the Gracious God that we have is slowly showing me that Responsible is not the descriptor he wants in the front of my name as my definition. In his severe mercy, my descriptor is becoming stale and boring.
When telling my director in ministry about these anxiety things, he sincerely told me, “Rachel, you need to learn to be Irresponsible.”
He didn’t mean I should stop wearing deodorant, show up three hours late to meet friends for lunch, or ignore engine lights in my car. What he meant was, I need to let go and say, you know what? That’s not my responsibility to deal with or fix. To say “no” to things and be ok with it. To recognize I am not anyone’s Savior or Fixer. There is only One that can do that for all human kind. His name is Jesus, the One and Only (John 1:14). How’s that for an Identity descriptor. That I need to be ok with not being in charge and need to surrender to the one who is. That I need to let Jesus’ love define me, not how much I can do in a day or how well I do those things.
So this is where I am. I’m shedding Responsible as my identity for something else. For What? Ive decided I’m not coming up with one right now. I’m irresponsibly leaving that responsibility up to Jesus . I’m going to just relax and lean on Him for that answer and enjoy the freedom found in His responsible act on the cross. And that’s where I’m going to be defined.
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And now for your enjoyment, a throwback Thursday picture of my Freshman friends: