What comes to mind when you think of responsibility? Is it all the things that need to be done? Does it carry a heaviness and maybe feel a little dis-empowering, like you have no choice in the matter? You may not have a choice about what you do, but you do get to choose how you respond.
As we mature into adulthood there are many things that become our responsibility. We become accountable or answerable for certain things. But while we look at these things as things we ‘have to’ do or as annoying things that take us away from the things we really want to be doing, we’re never going to give all that is required or live out the kind of purpose and contentment we’ve been designed for.
Rather than looking at your responsibilities as a burden, reframe the way you approach them to your RESPONSE - ABILITY or your ABILITY TO RESPOND. This puts the power back in your hands & even brings anticipation in to the mix. You have the power to choose what action or kind of attitude you respond with. You move from looking at responsibility as what you should do, to what you could do.
There is a great not for profit organization that we as Be That partner with called Be Hers. They raise funds and awareness for human trafficking. Be Hers was birthed out of a heart to want to respond to a need.
A few girlfriends were at a conference where they heard about the horrors of human trafficking for the first time. Their hearts broke at the injustice and knew that as women who were safe and well resourced, had a responsibility to respond in some way, but how? They asked.
It would have been easy for them to say “this is a global issue that a bunch of girls are never going to be able to make a difference in”. But rather than feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the need, they started with what they could manage, which was a fundraising event. That first year Be Her Freedom was run by 6 girls in Hobart Tasmania and raised $10,000
Now, 7 years later Be Her Freedom runs each year in multiple locations around Australia, last year they had 300 volunteers across 4 locations and raised $110,000
This is a beautiful example of choosing not to feel overwhelmed by responsibility but allowing yourself to be led by your heart and asking “what is my response - ability”? What have I got in my hand that would allow me to respond in some way.
What might this look like for us in the everyday?
Imagine this scenario; you have a hectic week, kids have sports finals, husband is out of town for a couple of nights and you have your normal work and community commitments. You’re already feeling overwhelmed, then you hear that one of your work colleagues just lost a family member from illness and the girls from work are brainstorming how we can contribute to show our support for our colleague. This brainstorming included putting together a hamper, going round and cleaning her house for her or cooking a few meals to stock her freezer.
It’s almost embarrassing to admit but the first thought that goes through your head is “oh my goodness, HOW can I fit that in?” This is what an attitude of responsibility looks like. Burdensome.
Whereas an attitude of RESPONSE - ABILITY looks at our ability to respond. It asks; Based on what I have or what I know or what I see, how can I respond? What will it cost me versus what might be gained? (by me or the people involved)
Our ability to respond focuses not on what can’t be done but rather on what can be achieved, this puts the power back in your hands.
In this scenario a reframed attitude of RESPONSE - ABILITY says; “I could easily do a double batch of dinner one night this week, pop it into disposable containers to give to the friend in need. I have to cook for my family anyway, doing double isn’t that much more work”.
An attitude of RESPONSE - ABILITY doesn’t focus on how inconvenient or burdensome this would be, it chooses to focus on the feelings of value and love that might be felt by the friend as she receives the meal or pulls it out of the freezer after having been with the rest of her grieving family that day. It all of a sudden becomes a pleasure to be able to respond. And it also makes me put my overwhelming week into perspective ;-)
The next time you’re faced with the weight of responsibility, try asking yourself what your ability to respond could be instead? Such freedom and gratification can come from this tweaked mindset