Who me?—responsible

From the desk of…

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On any given day in the Western Territory, the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) houses 2,582 men and 145 women in our programs. Our primary purpose is the regeneration and rehabilitation of men and women who have lost the ability to cope with their problems and provide for themselves. The center affords them the opportunity to gain insights into their problems, while acquiring self-respect, building self-esteem, and developing moral and spiritual principles of conduct that will enable them to gain purpose and meaning in their lives.

The ARC offers the individuals who come into the program basic tools to help them function and get a handle on their addiction. Time and time again, as I have listened to the beneficiaries who graduate from the program, the main elements that have helped them to obtain sobriety and bring them success are these: the spiritual base, the work therapy and the discipline.

The spiritual component is the motivating force behind every Salvation Army officer connected with the center. Our first objective is to bring the beneficiary into a personal relationship with God. Every aspect of our program is centered on this principle—that human regeneration is found only through Jesus Christ.

The work therapy component is a major element in the rehabilitation of a beneficiary. It helps to bring back self-esteem, as well as develop marketable work skills and habits to help them back into the work place.

The discipline component covers a variety of areas in each beneficiary. This section of the program holds the beneficiary responsible for all of his/her actions. Part of the objective in group and individual counseling is to discover the factors that brought them to the center in the first place. I have found this very interesting when talking with many of the women in our centers. They usually start out with reasons as to why they are in the predicament they are in. “I came from a dysfunctional family,” “I have parents who use drugs,” “I have been abused,” “I didn’t have any friends.” The excuses go on and on, and it is amazing to me that the bottom line is usually someone else is to blame. The shift of responsibility is passed on to someone or something. Part of the discipline is learning to take responsibility for our own actions.

With each action there is a consequence, whether positive or negative. If you drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, you must be prepared to suffer the consequence. If you cheat on an exam, you may fail a class. If you act irresponsibly as Lindsey Jacobellis did in the recent Winter Olympics, it may cost you a gold medal. You may remember that she was the snowboarder who had the race well in hand and fell near the finish line. Sometimes our actions are intentional, other times they are not. But, we still pay the price. I hope in four years, we will see this young lady again, but this time with a gold medal around her neck.

I was listening recently to “talk radio.” This particular commentator is constantly ribbed for always being late for everything. She proceeded to give reasons that I found to be quite comical as well as typical for us as human beings. It is always easier to give an excuse rather than face up to the responsibility of giving an account for our actions.

Throughout Scripture there are many accounts of individuals who failed to take responsibility for their actions. In 1 Samuel, chapter 15, when Samuel confronted Saul, Saul denied doing any wrong and put up his defenses. The price was his kingdom. The twelve spies who scouted the Promised Land came back with two positive reports and ten negative reports. The people rebelled and sided with the ten. In doing so, they ran from the responsibility of turning their lives over to God. He had already promised them the land. The result was tragic. A whole generation died in the desert except for Joshua and Caleb.

What we think about God has a powerful effect on what we do—any time we shun accepting the responsibility of our actions because of the pain it may cause. But what we fail to realize is that in running away from responsibility, we often experience a much deeper pain than if we had accepted it in the first place. I have to stop and ask myself the question, “What would my life be like if I always had to take full responsibility?”

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.


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