The Devil Made Me Do It

The ultimate get out of jail free card.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about temptation. I can gaze at my ever-expanding waistline and think about how miserable it makes me, and I can stare at a bag of Tim’s potato chips, feeling helpless, and I know that without a doubt, I’ll be diving head first into that bag of chips sooner or later, waistline be damned. I can resist anything but temptation.

But temptation implies that there’s some outside force acting upon me. It’s sort of a get out of jail free card. It’s not my fault. The devil made me do it. I was tempted by… fill in the blank.

This deferment of responsibility is rooted, I think, in the religious teachings that have been embedded in our culture so deeply that we barely think about them anymore. I passed a church today, and the message on their sign said, “The devil wants us to FALL.”

Many of us are taught that we are weak creatures, prone to sin, and satan is out there, hellbent on making us commit these sins. We must resist. But if we can’t, we should repent and be forgiven.

It’s really rather comforting, having a ready excuse for bad behavior. It’s wonderful to be able to blame everything on some outside source, as if we have no ability to say no. Like we’re puppets on strings. We might be doing the dance, but it’s not our choice.

I have a friend who does not like to watch true crime documentaries, because he doesn’t want those sick ideas put into his head. It’s almost as if he thinks that if he learns the motivations of a serial killer, for example, then he might just become one himself. And, mind you, this is the most decent, stand-up guy I’ve ever met in my life.

Here’s an idea. Just say, “I don’t enjoy true crime documentaries.”

Here’s another idea. Admit that every single food item that I put in my mouth is there because I am choosing to put it there. Every. Single. One.

Here’s yet another idea. Stand up and say, “I chose to start drinking/smoking/doing drugs. Yes, now I’m addicted to this substance, but the process began with a choice I made, and now I can choose to get help and/or change my behavior.”

Granted, you can be tempted by others. But even then, you are choosing to surround yourself with these people. If someone is a bad influence, maybe it’s time to cut that person out of your life, or at the very least, stop participating in his or her negative behavior.

I think it’s time that we grow up as a species, and start taking responsibility for our own actions. It may not be fun. It may not be pretty. We may have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do. But we can do this.

I admit it. I have not seen my last potato chip. But at least I’ll know that the choice is my own, and hopefully I will make a better choice next time. I’m a work in progress. But the work, and the resulting progress or lack thereof, is mine, mine, all mine.


Start a gratitude practice today. Read my book.

Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

5 thoughts on “The Devil Made Me Do It”

  1. Starting with the people who mess around with kids! They say “it happened” as though they were puppets, or video characters. Oh, please. A person who can’t keep from doing that shouldn’t be running around loose.
    But this culture’s linking food [and other legitimate pleasures] with sin needs to go. Nature, and/or industrial toxins, messed up our metabolisms. It’s not our fault, that, and short of a taste-bud-ectomy there doesn’t seem much to be done–diets don’t work, don’t stay worked unless you artificially starve yourself for the rest of your life, drugs and surgery might kill you–so quit blaming/shaming fat people, everyone, and start calling out those who do. Starting with cutting out archaic metaphors, or whatever the term is. Pick on the sex predators instead, folks.
    I like the church sign that said
    “Do you know what hell is?
    Come hear our new organist.”

    1. And I hope you don’t view this post as fat shaming. This is just how I feel about my own size, and very little of it has to do with appearance. I want to be healthier. I’m not looking to be a supermodel. I’m 54. I would just like to quit flirting on the edge of diabetes, and it would be nice not to be breathless at the top of every flight of stairs. I agree that diets do not work. I’ve blogged about that. But I can make healthier food choices. And usually, when I do, I feel better, physically. So no shame to others intended.

  2. Got it. Sorry if I misconstrued anything; when I launched into the imperative mood I mean everyone, not you. I understand about better foods.

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