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  • What You Make of Your Life is Up to You

    Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to some graduating high school Seniors at their senior banquet at our local Methodist church. My speech was about rules for living.  I want to give credit for some of my thoughts to Cherie Carter-Scott who wrote a book several years ago called, “If Life is a Game, These are the Rules.” One of the rules I spoke of is…


    Every person creates his or her own reality. Authorship of your life is one of your absolute rights; yet so often people deny that they have the ability to script the life they desire. They willingly give that power to someone or something else; and live life full of “yeah, buts…” that do not produce results but just reinforce the delusion of inability. I believe strongly in personal power and responsibility.

    It is important to understand the difference between responsibility and blame. Blame is associated with fault, whereas responsibility denotes authorship. Blame carries guilt and negative feelings; responsibility brings the relief of not having to dodge the full truth anymore and releases that guilt. Blame implies fault; responsibility implies ownership. Blame is stagnant; responsibility propels you forward and onward to your greater good.

    I believe that we have to take responsibility for our own lives and stop making others responsible for our own choices. No one makes us feel or do anything that we do not choose to do. If you drink too much with your friends, that is your choice. They do not hold you down and force you to drink. If you become angry at someone and decide to physically harm them, that is also your choice. You could choose to talk out your differences and find a more productive way of handling things. There is personal power in choice. Saying “no” to things that compromise you is powerful.

    The road to self-respect requires that you be the captain of your own ship, that you take responsibility for your actions. If you are not, the waves will toss you about and you will be unsure of how to navigate treacherous waters. Being centered and responsible means you own your emotions. We do not have our independence until we live by our own morals and standards and take responsibility for our own feelings and thoughts. And we develop and evolve by the choices we make and the way we face our challenges. Always be open to learning. Being a know-it-all stunts growth. Don’t live a life blaming others for your situation. That road is a dead end.

    Making life what you want it to be can be scary, mainly because it may require you to go against the flow, to be different than the popular opinion or more functional than your family or origin. It may make you anxious and afraid, but that is okay. Do not treat moments when you can go beyond yourself as not you. Treat them as moments when you are challenging your limits. I have a quote framed in my house that says, “Always try to do better.”

    Measure yourself by your own standards, by your own moral code – not by what others think of you. Do the right thing even if someone else is doing the wrong thing… you will emerge with self-respect; something much more valuable than possessions or prestige. Goethe said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness had genius, power, and magic in it.” Setting an intention is half the battle.
    I encourage you to exhibit courage as you face life and ask God to give you that courage. Courage is not defiance, defiance is fake courage. Courage is finding the inner strength an bravery required when confronting danger, difficulty, or opposition. Courage is the energy current behind all great actions and the spark that ignites the initial baby steps of growth. Courage is what it takes to struggle through life so that it will become something of your own making.