by Annette Bridges. © 2008. All rights reserved.

Some might say the search for someone or something to blame is a popular pastime in America. When our heralded football team loses, we spend hours assigning blame and pointing fingers at who was at fault and how and why they were wrong. When anything is awry in our country, the usual fall guy is the president. And when our own life goes haywire, we look for relief in our anguish by either trying to find a scapegoat for our misfortunes or by indulging in self-blame. Regardless, looking for blame is generally a way to distract attention from the real cause to a problem, and it prevents us from searching for and finding solutions.In my own life, I’ve slowly but surely learned that successful answers are not found in blaming ourselves — or anyone or anything else — but in bettering ourselves. And while the objective to achieve this will certainly include fixing a problem, this is not the same as fixating on a problem.

To better ourselves begins by looking in the mirror for self-reflection. But in which mirror does one look? In the mirror that focuses on human error, mistakes, opinion, faults and bad judgment? Or in the mirror that shows us our spiritual selfhood — the divine image and likeness of our Creator, reflecting innocence, honesty, strength, wisdom and all the qualities derived from our Father?

Yes, it turns out all we need to better ourselves is readily at hand. Our spiritual birthright is God-given dominion to overcome any hurdle, along with a vast resource of qualities that enhance our abilities and capabilities — with infinite potential and promise, I might add. If we’re not utilizing our innate spiritual resources, it could be that we haven’t discovered them yet or we’ve forgotten we have them. This happened to me.

For the past 10 years, I’ve been steadily putting on body weight. After changing to larger pant sizes four times, I was feeling pretty miserable. How did this happen to me, I bemoaned? I blamed my job for making me sit too much. I blamed my husband’s sweet tooth. I blamed Blue Bell for selling 3 gallons of ice cream for $10. There was no end to the list of who or what was at fault for my fatness — or so I thought.

Years of blame didn’t lower the scales!

Finally, four months ago, I reached a pinnacle moment in my dismay. It was a fresh read of Daniel in the lion’s den that helped me tip the scales in the other direction. (Daniel, Chapter 6)

King Darius had 120 princes governing his kingdom with three presidents presiding. Darius appointed Daniel as one of these presidents. The more Darius recognized and appreciated Daniel’s exemplary talents and trustworthy character, the more jealous the other presidents and princes became. They conspired to find a way to get rid of Daniel and in so doing, persuaded King Darius to make a decree that would restrict prayers to God for 30 days. Although Daniel knew of the decree, he remained faithful and steadfast in his daily prayers. Darius didn’t seem to realize that his new law would put his favored president in peril. The penalty for disobedience was to be thrown into a den of lions. As soon as the other presidents caught Daniel in prayer, they pushed Darius into reluctantly enforcing the penalty. The morning after Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den, however, he was found alive and safe.

Daniel proclaimed that his innocence had kept him safe. It occurred to me that he could have spent his hours in the lions’ den blaming others for his plight — his jealous peers, an unfair law, a mistake made by his king. But, instead, he remained focused on his spiritual innocence and was protected and blessed accordingly.

Suddenly I realized that I needed to shift my view from weight-gain blame to my own spiritual innocence, along with the many other qualities that God gives each of his children. This radical turn took me in a direction that caused radical changes in my perception, attitude and behavior — and consequently led me to radical results.

These results have included not only losing over 30 pounds — so far — but also the emergence of a happier, more confident, energized, revitalized, active “me.” Daniel’s prayers affirming his innocence freed him from paying an unfair penalty. So too, an understanding of our own spiritual innocence and selfhood brings freedom to each of us — freedom from self-condemnation, self-will, self-righteousness, self-justification and self-ignorance. These are some of the many self-isms that trap us into the blame game.

Before I ever lost a pound, I felt lighter and happier. I discovered that I had the ability to practice commitment, balance, discipline, restraint and reason with my eating habits, as well as an openness and freshness to try new and healthier foods. And I found the more I learned about my God-given qualities, the more joy and fun I had in putting these qualities into life practice in every aspect of my daily life — including walking and exercise, house-cleaning, my spiritual studies and more.

You too, my friend, have the God-given power to change your behavior, modify your attitude and shift your perception from looking to blame to finding the better “you” that God knows, loves and blesses.