Addicted to Excuses


I suppose we can blame our parents.

I mean, our original parents, of course – Adam and Eve.

They are to blame for our love of excuses. They started it, after all.
No sooner had they eaten the forbidden fruit but they were devising excuses that blamed not only the serpent and each other but also God! First from Adam: “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” (Genesis 3:12) And then from Eve: “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” (Genesis 3:13)

And we’re still at it. This is one skill we’ve passed faithfully from generation to generation. The technology improves but our blame shifting sounds the same from “The dog ate my homework” to “My printer ran out of ink.”

I work with people who want to make changes in their lives. They come to me because they want to lose weight or exercise more or finally take their creative endeavors seriously. I tell them the first thing they have to lose is their excuses.

We’re not overweight because our moms made us clean our plates. We’re not unable to keep to an exercise schedule because we work. And it’s not our families’ faults that we don’t pursue writing, painting, music, dance, martial arts, grad school or clown college. I know this because I am the queen of these excuses – over the years, I’ve made them all. I was addicted to excuses but I am now in recovery.

What’s not to love about a good excuse? It rolls easily off the tongue and provides a dandy smokescreen that most of our friends and family wouldn’t dream of fanning away with a direct waft of truth. And if we routinely devise excuses for ourselves, our listeners are comforted to know we aren’t likely to attempt to bushwack our way through theirs.

But really, there’s no excuse for a Christian man or woman not to do what God has called him or her to do. 2 Peter 1:3 says “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Did you get that? We have everything we need for life and godliness through Christ.

For too many years, I made excuses for why my life didn’t look the way I wanted it to look. At some point, I realized those excuses were weighing me down and I tried living without them. Wow! It was like getting new glasses. Suddenly, life came into focus.

I’ve learned some things about excuses over the years. We all face challenges. We all have demands on our time and our energy. We all have weaknesses, sin natures, and limitations. We all face legitimate obstacles when we try to reach goals or make changes or just get through our days but excuses waste vital energy we could be using for a better purpose.

When I sin, rather than make excuses, it’s better to own up to it, confess, repent and bring it to God so He can forgive me and provide the power of Christ to continue to reduce the power of that sin in my life.

When faced with a challenge like losing weight, changing a habit, pursuing a creative passion or making time to achieve a life goal, it’s important to resist the temptation to make excuses. There may be real obstacles in my way but if I believe God wants me to aim for something then I believe He wants me to put in the effort to overcome whatever gets in the way.

Often, we are not lacking options but only imagination, creativity or courage. Excuses waste the energy we could be directing to the necessary prayer, brainstorming, acquisition of resources or simple hard work it can take to overcome.

I don’t advocate a drill sergeant, stiff-upper-lip, “suck it up” type of approach to life. Letting go of our excuses doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge the very real challenges in our lives. The demands of our daily lives do present challenges to our greater pursuits but it’s best to face the challenges and prayerfully determine our daily priorities not whine, complain and wallow in excuses.

Sometimes, we are pursuing goals or saying “yes” to things that are NOT God’s will for us. It’s important to prayerfully discern what work God actually wants us to be about and then STOP doing the things that aren’t important for us right now. Saying “yes” to some things means saying “no” to others without excuse.

Are you addicted to excuses? Here’s a way to find out. Determine to live for the next twenty-four hours without making any excuses (thinking them and praying them counts just as much as saying them). Can you do it? Let me know.

And next time you hear me making one – call me out! I’d prefer to use my energy for a greater purpose!


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2 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Cheri says:

    “I was addicted to excuses but I am now in recovery.” ~ Just LOVE this line!

    Lori,

    Once again, you have nailed me and shared a hard truth with love and sensitivity. We can share painful messages sensitively, and you prove that to me time and again, when I drop by.

    Thank you for being a faithful sister-in-Christ,

    Cheri

  2. Andrea says:

    I hate excuses. I often tell my husband when we are discussing one of our five kids, “it can not possibly always be someone else’s fault.” We have been calling her out. She is an adult and needless to say she does not like it. Thank you for this post.
    Blessings, andrea