Authors: Sadie Robertson
A GREAT EXAMPLE OF FIXING YOURSELF
When people see my mamaw Kay on
, they have no idea what a strong person she is, how hard she has worked all of her life, or how much she has been through. They do not know she has faith like a rock and that if she believes in something and starts praying about it, she will not let it go until she gets her answer. But she doesn’t just pray; she gets busy doing everything she can to fix her problem. She does not sit around and wait on God to do everything for her; she does all she can to help herself.
Mamaw Kay has always been this way, I guess. She has definitely been like this for as long as I have known her. I have heard enough to know there was a time in her life when she could not fix anything or anyone who really mattered to her. All she could do was take responsibility for herself and work hard to make her life better. Here’s the story.
For as far back as she can remember, Mamaw Kay dreamed about having a “pioneer man” for a husband, a happy marriage, and a loving family. But her life did not turn out that way, at least not at first. Early in their marriage, Papaw Phil was definitely a pioneer man, but he was also really wild and he did not treat Mamaw Kay well. I’m not talking about a little partying for a little while; I’m talking about some things that really hurt Mamaw Kay and made
hard for ten years. She could not do anything about him or his choices; she had to take responsibility and do what she could to make it through a very hard time and to grow in the middle of it.
No matter how bad things got, even when Papaw Phil was not around, Mamaw Kay kept herself and her boys (my uncles Alan and Jase, and my dad) going. She did not let her troubles steal her dream or keep her down. One time, she even worked at a chicken place just to make enough money to pay her rent and utilities. With every job she had, she was a dependable hard worker, and she kept learning new skills so she could get better jobs.
Mamaw Kay’s grandmother, who would have been my great-great-grandmother, told her one time, “You have to fight for your marriage.” Mamaw Kay never forgot that. The harder things got with Papaw Phil, the harder she fought and the more she took responsibility for herself and her boys. She could have let herself have all kinds of problems and blamed Papaw Phil for them. I think a lot of people did blame him, but she did not. I won’t go into detail about this story because Mamaw Kay does that in the book
The Women of Duck Commander
, where she writes a lot about what she had to do to survive during that time. She worked hard to keep her dream alive when everyone around her told her to give it up. She owned her decision to marry Papaw Phil and did everything she could do to help herself, while she prayed for God to help her too.
For years, Mamaw Kay kept that dream in her heart all alone, with no one to encourage her or help her very much. She had to help herself. She was the only person who believed Papaw Phil could change, and when he did, he changed
. Now Mamaw Kay does have the strong, happy, loving family she always wanted—and people all over the world tell her they wish they had a family
like hers. Her dream took years to come true, but she fought for it and prayed for it until it happened.
If I ever find myself in a problem I think is someone else’s fault and feel tempted to blame them, all I have to do is think about Mamaw Kay. I remember that she refused to blame Papaw Phil even for problems he did create; she just found ways to do what
needed to do to get through them. Getting to her dream was not easy, and it took a lot of years and a lot of effort, but she got there. She says the relationships she has now with Papaw Phil and her family have been worth everything she went through, and she has taught me through her example that I cannot control what other people do, but I can control the way I respond.
HOW TO BECOME YOUR BEST YOU
It’s one thing to tell ourselves, “I can only fix myself.” It’s another thing to know how to do that. I have a few suggestions.
Don’t be obsessed with yourself; take responsibility for yourself. I’m kind of shocked sometimes when I see how obsessed people can be with themselves—for example, that girl who was sitting next to my dad on the airplane. She’s not alone, though. Lots of people think about themselves more than they think about others. Some are so focused on how great they are or are so worried about what others are thinking of them that they forget other people are great too, and they forget to put others first. Being obsessed with ourselves is not the same as taking responsibility for ourselves.
When we decide to take responsibility for ourselves, we can definitely acknowledge our good points, but we also have to look
at areas where we need to grow and improve. Then we have to do something about those things. For example, do you have trouble being on time? That’s really disrespectful toward others, so maybe you can work on not being late anymore. Or do you sometimes tell little lies in order to keep from getting in trouble? That’s compromising your integrity, so you could decide today that you are going to tell the truth, even if you have to go through some consequences.
The whole idea of personal responsibility is not always popular, but as I said earlier, it’s one of the best ways we can grow and become mature. Think of it like a workout for what’s inside of you. Taking responsibility may feel heavy or hard—like lifting weights sometimes does—but it makes the muscles of who you are and makes your character strong.
Get great friends. If you are anything like I am, your friends are really important to you. I have a great group of close friends. Some of them are in my grade at school, others are a year or two older. So obviously, what makes us friends is not that we are the same age, but that we share the same values. All of us love God, and we want to live our lives the way He teaches us in His Word. This makes everything about being a teenager so much easier for me.
No one can choose their family, but all of us can choose our friends. Whether you have a great family or a family you think is not so great, you can still choose awesome friends. They may not be the most popular group, but if they are people who love God, live by His Word, and have strong character, you can’t go wrong.
Smart adults will tell you that you become like the people you hang around. One of the facts of life is that the people we are
around have a major influence on us. So spend your time with great friends, and they will help you become great too.
Find a wise grown-up. I hope you have smart, wise grown-ups you can trust in your life, but I realize that not everyone does. I do have great parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, but sometimes I meet people or get messages from people who say they cannot count on the adults in their family to help them grow up strong and godly. My best advice is to find a teacher, a coach, a neighbor, or even a friend’s family member who will help you learn to take responsibility for yourself and to make good choices.
Sometimes teenagers feel that all grown-ups do is correct us or that all they want to do is keep us from having fun. That’s not usually true. Some grown-ups have already done the things we think would be “fun” and found out that those things are not fun at all. Sometimes those things got them in big trouble! Usually, when grown-ups try to correct us or tell us what to do, they are trying to keep us from making the same mistakes they made because they want us to have an easier journey through life than they did.
So if you do not have a parent or grandparent to help guide you, find someone else. Look for someone who has had a lot of experience in life, because that’s how people become wise. Look for someone who is kind and patient and someone you think can help you get where you need to go in life. I’m pretty sure, if you’ll look, you’ll be surprised at the adults who would really love to be part of your life.
Put good things into your brain. I wrote about this earlier in the book, but it’s so important that I want to mention it again. One of the best ways to take responsibility for yourself and for who you will become is to be disciplined about what goes into your mind.
One time, a friend of mine put some nasty things on Twitter and I unfollowed her immediately. She got upset about that and I told her, “If you want to change what you post, I will follow you again.” I knew that if I let myself read the words she tweeted, they would get into my head and would influence my thoughts and what came out of my mouth. In that situation, I could not change what she posted, but I could fix me.
The same thing is true about the shows we watch on TV and the music we listen to. I hear people complain a lot because they think there’s nothing good to watch on TV. When they say this, I think,
The only way you can know it’s not good is if you watch it. If it’s not good, why are you watching it?
Our family believes
has brought a positive message to television. That’s at least one good show people can watch!
My point is bigger than
, though. I’m trying to say that one way we can take responsibility for ourselves is to fix what goes into our heads. We can be disciplined about what we watch, read, and listen to and about whom we follow on social media. People say that “what’s out there” is so destructive to the world—all the sex and violence and bad language—but I say what’s destroying the world
you does not have to destroy
own world. You can be bigger than that!
Sometimes we have to make unpopular decisions like the ones I just described. Other people may not like them, but we do not make them for other people. We make them for our own good.
Live Original Challenge
Why do you think taking personal responsibility and fixing yourself is important?
What’s the biggest thing you think you need to fix about yourself right now? How can you start?
Is there someone in your life who is causing you trouble? Instead of blaming that person, how can you respond to the situation in a way that will help you grow?
Do you need to work on yourself by changing your group of friends? Who are some people who could influence you in positive ways and how can you develop relationships with them?
You can’t change anyone else.
You can only fix you!
In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Let Your Smile Change the World
ne of my favorite quotes is: “Don’t let the world change your smile, let your smile change the world.” It’s credited as “anonymous,” so I don’t know who wrote it, but I think that person was very smart. The words remind me to bring joy to the world. Even when I am not having a good day, if I will just smile, I’ll bring a little joy to myself and to the people around me. That’s a good thing to do. I can do it, and so can you.
This quote also encourages me to be genuine everywhere I go. It talks about
smile, not someone else’s smile. I don’t ever have to pretend to be someone I’m not just to impress other people or to fit in with a certain group. I only need to be myself. Some people will like who I am, some will not. So I will hang around with the ones who do. My mom says: “You can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you won’t ever please all of the people all of the time.” So don’t let that get you down. Don’t let people you can never please change your smile.
What’s true for me is true for you. You do not have to try to impress anyone either. God made you in a unique way so you would
have something great to offer the world around you. If you let the world shape you and influence you—instead of influencing it—you will miss the chance to share with others what God has given you.
Your smile represents everything about you. One reason I like the quote “Let your smile change the world” is that I think the world needs to be changed in a lot of ways. It needs to become a happier, more positive place. I know those changes can start with something as simple as a smile and then, as we begin to believe we can have an impact on the world, we will build the courage to do bigger and bigger things.
LITTLE BY LITTLE
Someone once asked me what changing the world means to me. I have always thought of it as something that happens one step at a time, by one person at a time. No one changes the world overnight or all alone. But if we all do what we can do, eventually it happens. Things become different.