“It’s Not You, It’s Me!” (Proverbs 19:3)

For two years, I had been taking Karate lessons and immensely enjoyed the experience. However, my professional workload was becoming oppressive and I could not take the time to practice my routines. In addition, my aging body was getting pummeled by the other students who were young enough to be my children. I had enough but I needed to inform the Sensei. I was not looking forward to the conversation. He and I were about the same age and we had become friends, often texting one another during our time outside of the dojo. 

“Sensei! Got a second?”

“Sure!” He was seated in his office, relaxing before our lesson. 

“Hey…” I slowly began. “Got something to share with you.” I then related the issues that were leading me to make this decision. All during this discussion, he managed a weak smile and nodded. It was obvious he was disappointed. I attempted to soften the blow. 

“It’s not you, it’s me!”

My Sensei chuckled. “Yeah right! You’re breaking up with me!”

I laughed. “Exactly!” 

I have heard both sexes state this to their partners when they are breaking up. It is an attempt to deflect the pain of the moment and place the blame on the party who is instigating the breakup. It may be the truth but it sometimes sounds disingenuous. In my case, it was the truth but in other instances, I am not so sure. 

A person’s own foolishness leads him astray, yet his heart rages against the LORD.

Proverbs 19:3 (CSB)

Whenever things go wrong, I first look to everyone else to blame, including God. I should spend more time looking in the mirror. One painful incident reminded me of my foolishness to blame others instead of taking responsibility for my own actions. In my psychiatry rotation during medical school, I was being videotaped as I interviewed a patient. It was a difficult interview and I was not making a connection with her in spite of my best efforts. After the interview, the professor reviewed the interview with me in front of my classmates. As we watched the interaction, he nodded and mumbled imperceptibly. At the end, he asked me, “Why do you think you had such difficulty making a connection with your patient?”

I shook my head. “I think it is her underlying condition. She has major depression and is also paranoid. Anything I said would trigger a bad memory.”

My professor pursed his lips. “That may be but the video reveals something else.” He proceeded to rewind the video tape and replayed a key exchange. “There, do you see it?”

I shook my head. 

“Look at your facial expression and body language. You were reacting negatively to her story. You were communicating your disapproval with your body language. This is why you didn’t make a connection.”

I was chagrined to have this fault pointed out to me. I was blaming the patient when in reality, I was to blame. It was the beginning of a radical change in the way I interacted with my patients and with others, when I realized that I needed to stop assigning the blame for my failures on others and take responsibility and ownership for my own actions.

“It’s not you, it’s me!”

Dear God, You are absolutely correct…again!

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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