Make a U-Turn

Something Has to Change: Episode 25

Meggan Stephens

6/5/20248 min read

low light stage microphone photography
low light stage microphone photography

Maturity & Responsibility

Maturity and responsibility go hand in hand. Those lacking maturity tend to be more irresponsible for the simple fact that all of their failures and mishaps are the fault of others, rather than the fault of themselves. But what is maturity? What is responsibility for that matter? Maturity is commonly understood to be a state of mental and emotional development, that which demonstrates wisdom and self-control. On the other hand, responsibility has to do with taking accountability for one's own actions and the consequences that follow. Although some would say maturity comes with age, we know this to not always be the case. However, there is a type of maturity that comes through following the Messiah.

Yeshua displays the greatest example of maturity and responsibility. In the darkest hours of His life, as seen in Mark 14:50, all of His disciples deserted Him. Everyone who had been walking with Him scattered as he began to face His crucifixion for the numerous false testimonies of the Sanhedrin and chief priests. Despite everyone who forsook him, every betrayal and false accusation, despite every word of mockery and physical affliction, Yeshua responded with a prayer to the Father in Luke 23:34. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." In His moment of anguish upon the cross, He took responsibility for His life and His purpose without pinning blame or resentment on the ones who placed Him there. We can learn from His example in taking responsibility for our own experiences, internal struggles, and emotions.

Taking Responsibility

Taking responsibility is when you get over the expectation or the demand of “I need you to behave differently for me, for me to feel better, for me to feel comfortable, and for me to stop treating you the way I treat you.” This is especially essential in not only relationships, but in parenting, an often difficult and frustrating task. I can't even begin to count the amount of times I have lost my temper and allowed my emotions to shift because of my children's behavior. Despite teaching them things like, "People can only upset you if you allow them to," I still, at times become overly and needlessly upset because of their behaviors and the behaviors of others. This is yet another lesson that can be learned and imitated from the Messiah. Though he had countless people from every angle determined to make His life miserable, He did not allow His joy to be stolen. Taking responsibility for yourself is taking responsibility for your own emotions, despite what others may say or do.

In many instances, we can put the blame on something or someone for the way we feel in an attempt to justify our attitudes, feelings, and behaviors. Self-justification is a result of cognitive dissonance. It is a need to justify a behavior that is inconsistent with one's beliefs, and an unwillingness to receive feedback associated with that behavior. We have to stop justifying ourselves, stop trying to convince others why we are right, and redirect ourselves to follow the Word of God. In order to take responsibility for yourself, you're going to have to develop a willingness to claim responsibility for your own internal struggles, sufferings, and experiences of life. You feel the way you feel because of you, not because of someone else.

Taking responsibility for yourself requires a realization of your own personal belief system. Essentially, you feel the way you feel not because of the thoughts you think, but because of the thoughts in which you choose to put your trust and belief. The thoughts you believe control you and dictate the direction of your life. They determine the way you see the world around you and shape your personal reality of health, finances, and relationships. You create suffering within yourself in these areas because of the way you choose to look at them.

Casting Judgement

You may have heard the saying, "If you point one finger, there are three more pointing back at you." In the case of judgement and personal responsibility, I'd say there's much truth in this statement. King David becomes a great example. When the prophet Nathan approached him regarding his sins of adultery and murder, King David was quick to condemn the person of whom he thought Nathan was speaking. Had he realized Nathan was speaking of himself, he'd likely have considered a much lesser penalty. The lesson here is simple; when you cast judgement on someone else, you condemn yourself.

When making an assessment, or judgement, of someone, you form a fixated state of mind. You've decided already who that person is according to the thoughts you believe to be true in your own mind about him or her. This is dangerous in more ways than one. You're holding that person to an unrealistic standard that you have placed on them, and then faulting them for not measuring up, rather than allowing Yeshua to be the standard. Even more so, it's likely that you've not upheld this standard yourself, and have committed the very acts and behaviors that person has done, only you may be oblivious to your own faults. Rather than being excessively concerned with the issues of others, take responsibility for yourself, just as Yeshua said to Peter in John 21:21-22.

How to Turn Your Life Around

Maybe you are that person who has difficulty taking responsibility for your own actions and emotions. The good news is that the whole point of this podcast is to change. Ultimately, if you want change, you have to start with yourself. Take the time to invest in your own self-development. No one else is going to do it for you. You can begin to turn your life around by inquiring within yourself why you believe, think, speak, and act the way you do. What you consistently think about manifests itself in every area of your life, especially in your relationships.

Learn to let go of the responsibility you take on for other peoples lives, for their marriages, their parenting, and ultimately their walk. What you think about these things will show in the way in which you speak about them. You may ask yourself, "What am I missing? What is it about this person or situation that I can't seem to understand?" What's missing is that person's perspective or experiences, which you can't see because you have not walked in their shoes. Allow people to live their own lives and make their own mistakes, just as you have. Let people be people and don't lose sleep over it.

Turn your life around by changing your routine. Change the way you habitually speak about people, particularly those whom you've fixed judgement on, and those you deem to be toxic or negative. Be intentional to rise above emotions that come along with thinking a certain way about someone or something. As said in previous episodes, think about what you're thinking about.

Proverbs 19:8 says, "The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper." Acquiring wisdom not only develops maturity, but allows you to shift your paradigm. When wisdom is revealed, things can be seen in a new light, through a different lens. You can form an opposite perspective. The question is, will you choose to?

Pleasure vs. Happiness

The World's Health Organization has reported more than 5% of the world's population to be clinically depressed. That is an astounding 380 million people. Out of the roughly 333 million people in America, 20% of them are clinically depressed. That number is approximately 66,600,000 people. Do you know what over 45 million people are searching for on Google each month? The answer is happiness; more specifically, "how to be happy." It would seem as though we as a people are all on a pursuit of happiness, yet we don't know exactly how to obtain it. There's another problem as well. We don't seem to know the difference between pleasure and happiness.

Pleasure & Dopamine

Pleasure releases a neurotransmitter chemical in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine plays a role in various things such as sleep, memory, mood, concentration, and movement. However, the average person is releasing more dopamine than normal. Examples of activities that release dopamine include sex, eating junk food, shopping, scrolling social media, video games, earning money, or drinking alcohol. Though these activities in themselves are not necessarily sin, becoming addicted to the dopamine released during them can be. After all, sin is pleasurable, and doing too much of anything has its consequences. This is why dopamine, also known as the 'reward chemical' is linked to addiction, being that it releases in the brain after you do something enjoyable, leaving you wanting to do it again and again.

Those who are pleasure-chasers are often left depressed following their pleasurable acts. This is due to the fact that pleasure is related solely to self. Though an activity may bring you a sense of satisfaction and joy in the moment, it's often fleeting and replaced with a feeling of depression and emptiness. Proverbs 21:17 says, "Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich." Those who chase pleasure will squander their finances to get it. Not only will they spend money they don't have, but they will also risk poverty in their relationships as they constantly seek to please themselves without regard for others. This is seen often in those with drug addictions who lose everything they have while living solely for the next high.

Happiness & Serotonin

Happiness differs from pleasure in the sense that it releases a different chemical called serotonin. Like dopamine, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that acts as a hormone, and also plays a role in mood, learning, sleep, and memory. While dopamine is produced in the brain, serotonin is produced in the intestine. Serotonin is released more when doing community based acts such as helping others. When serotonin levels are normal, you feel calmer, happier, more focused, and emotionally stable. Lower levels of serotonin can cause depression, anxiety, mental disorders, and suicidal behavior.

Purpose produces serotonin. Yet, most people will throw out their purpose because of burn-out and no desire to work. When people lack purpose, they're more likely to commit suicide. Along with discovering and operating in your purpose, you can increase your serotonin levels by eating nutrient-dense foods, exercising, and getting natural sunlight.

Something Has to Change

The "something" that has to change is our perspective, the way in which we see ourselves, other people, and the purpose of our lives. We must first stop and think, inquire within ourselves as we take responsibility for own emotions, experiences, and choices. Let us begin to intentionally make consistent decisions that compounded over time, will better our emotional and physical health, as well as our relationships, and ultimately lead us to true happiness. Regardless of the direction you've been walking in, it's not too late to make a U-turn, and turn your life around.

2 Takeaways:
  1. Find your purpose and you will find true happiness.

  2. Explore a different perspective in a toxic relationship.

If you were to take an assessment of yourself right now, how mature would you say that you are? Do you make sensible decisions in your relationships, health, and finances? Are you someone who practices taking full responsibility for your own struggles, experiences, actions, and emotions? Or do you tend to blame all of your problems on other people? Are you genuinely happy? Or have you found that happiness, for you, is fleeting?

In the twenty-fifth episode of Something Has to Change, these questions are met with answers. The host of Contemporary Speaks, Stephen, helps us to identify new areas within ourselves that are in need of growth and development. He explains how change involves turning some things in your life around, and how turning your life around begins with taking responsibility for yourself. He then speaks on how to obtain true happiness in life.

Want to dive deeper?

Watch the full episode