Several times in the past month I had dreams that seemed like they were telling me to be more responsible. What that might have meant was not at all clear, though. As far as I was aware, I hadn’t been neglecting anyone or anything recently. I had no workplace problems, my kids had gotten through college and found jobs, my husband and I were spending more time together, both of us were doing volunteer work, and the clutter in the house was reasonably well cleaned up.
Surely I didn’t need to take on more obligations right now. What I needed, if anything, was the opposite—to slow down, relax, and clear away old stress. Taking time for self-nurturing as part of a healthy life is not selfish or irresponsible. And in that regard, I didn’t feel that I had been neglecting myself recently, either. I’d been getting regular exercise, eating better food, and finding simple ways to make my everyday life more peaceful and refreshing.
With no clue as to what I might be missing, I decided to look for an answer in my dreams. Just before I went to sleep, I asked myself: How should I be more responsible?
Early in the morning, when I wasn’t quite awake, I heard a voice speaking to me. It sounded like an angel’s voice, as I imagined an angel would sound—peaceful, kind, and otherworldly, neither male nor female. The angel said, “Caring and prayer.” Then I woke up.
That was a much-needed perspective adjustment! In today’s busy task-driven society, people often think of responsibility in terms of checking items off the to-do list. If we generally do what’s expected of us, then we can pat ourselves on the back for being good responsible citizens.
But at its root, responsibility isn’t about checking off boxes—rather, it’s a compound word that puts together “response” and “ability.” It means that when a situation comes up that needs our attention, we’re able to respond appropriately. That has a lot more to do with a caring, thankful mindset than with rushing around to get the to-dos finished. It’s about appreciating the small moments of grace in our everyday lives that gently, but persistently, invite us to rise to the occasion.