The Blame Game

Growing up it always bothered me when people didn’t know the TRUTH. Like when my family went on a road trip from Vermont to Wisconsin and borrowed my Aunt’s car top carrier. For whatever reason I spent a lot of the time in car worrying that the people driving by were thinking my family owned a car top carrier when we didn’t.

Thus it was difficult for me to keep my mouth shut when it was stated publicly in ward rounds that I had failed to properly take care of one of my patients.

I also am extremely sensitive to what people think about me and extremely hard on myself. Thus my thought life started swinging between outrage of being told that I didn’t do something that I did and despair that everyone would think less of me now and it was probably warranted because I somehow should have done more. I failed again as I always do.

I really wanted to say something to counter the rumor in rounds, but I don’t like conflict and didn’t want to seem disrespectful. I really wanted to take the person aside afterward and explain what I indeed did do for my patient yesterday, but again conflict and being respectful to authority.

And what was me explaining going to help anyway? I knew people had seen me taking care of my patient. What I did was all recorded in the medical record. And the more I think about it the more I think I was blamed not because my hard work had gone unnoticed, but because somebody needed to be blamed and it was easy to land it on me.

It was a frustrating case. For no want of knowledge, experience, and trying the cause of the patient’s illness was unknown. The clients’ were very attached, which is as it should be. The patient was declining and hard choices were having to be discussed and made. So the clients’ were frustrated and emotionally torn and blamed the clinic for a number of things. Students are responsible for patient care and so the blame passed through the ranks down to me.

And what was I going to do? I couldn’t keep emotionally boomeranging all day.

The anger at being falsely accused had to be countered with if people take the time to know me they will know that I do take good care of my patients. And if no one else, God knows everything I did and His opinion is the only one that really matters.

The despair that I’m a failure had to be countered with a truth that I’ve been struggling with for a long time. I tend to define myself by my mistakes, failures, and awkwardness. And none of those things have any say in defining me at all. I’m redeemed by the Creator of the universe. He defines me. And He says I am precious, loved, and a delight.

So in the end I was able to let it all go. I was able to make excuses for those I was working with – difficult case, stress from the holidays, miscommunication from days off.

And I think in today’s society we need to work harder at this. We sling blame at each other all day long for all kinds of things.

And I think the reason the blame keeps going round and round is because on our own we are unable to bear the blame without crumbling. If we are unfairly blamed we cannot keep quiet because of our inborn sense of justice and fairness. If we do bear some blame we have to pass it on because we label ourselves failures and fall into depression and self-loathing.

To put an end to the blame game we have to remember first that God sees all that is done in secret and justice will be done if not now then in the future, so we can be strong enough to take the blame for things that are not our fault. And we have to remember secondly that He defines us, not our mistakes or what other people think of us so we can bear the blame for what is our fault without having to throw it on someone else in self preservation.