No man is an island. And this means we can never completely divorce ourselves from the countless influences all around us. In a myriad of ways, external factors contribute to the choices we make and how we show up in life. All the same, a level of freedom remains, as does our responsibility for the life we live.
Of course, the blame game has been around since the beginning, and it’s easy to still blame others for the decisions we make. And often this is simply an effort to hide, justify, and not be held accountable for our choices. We get to play the victim and place the burden of fault with anyone or anything else beside ourselves.
What’s often difficult to tease out is that there are elements of truth here. But perhaps it’s more accurate to understand them as external factors of influence rather than the decisive cause.
For instance, it’s true that our parents, wife, friends, church, government, media, and the like all have profound influence on us for better or worse. But it’s a mistake to assume that these external factors are the reason we cannot faithfully live the life God has called us to. Their influence doesn’t rob us of our freedom to still live a life pleasing to God.
Like the Apostle Paul still worshiping God even in prison, external circumstances don’t rob us of our freedom to remain faithful either. And with our freedom intact, so is our responsibility.
To be fair, it’s often very helpful to understand the many factors influencing how we show up in life. This allows us to be kind to ourselves and wise as we seek to find our way forward. We don’t have to beat ourselves up when we feel the weight of such factors. And being aware of them keeps us from merely caving in as well.
In the end, remember your life is not lived in a vacuum and you’re influenced by many external factors. But none of these rob you of the freedom and responsibility you have to remain faithful to who God has called you to be.