First and foremost it should be known that I am writing this particular post as an expert… an expert in striking out and making excuses. My reason for examining this topic is because lately I have been prone to make excuses almost constantly – especially when the task ahead is particularly difficult.
The following quote has long been attributed to former baseball player-turned evangelist Billy Sunday… “An excuse is a skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” I’ve been thinking about certain things I know I should be doing a better job with, but often leave them behind with a “good excuse” for why I cannot do ____________ at this time. It has been said that the first agenda item in overcoming a deficiency is to admit that you have one. Here goes… when it comes to doing things that I don’t like… I have never met an excuse I didn’t like.
To quench some of your curiosity I’ll tell you the two biggies that I’m wrestling with at present. I can joke all I want about being balanced because I have a bubble in the middle, and my actual numbers (none of your business) would probably not sound that bad to you. But I know my body and the way I feel right now and I likely should lose at least 20 lbs. How’s that for accountability?
My other stumbling block is related to the first, I suppose. It’s that nasty four-letter word… discipline! Oh, wait? That’s not a four-letter word? Well it should be. The hardest point of discipline for me is setting and sticking to a particular (and early-enough) bedtime. For years I have joked that I totally understand Peter Pan. I mean really, who wouldn’t want to be the boy who never grew up? Anyone noticing a pattern here? I (perhaps, we) tend to alleviate the painful realities in our life… often by using humor… or our futile attempts at it.
But the other way I/we tend to deal with our negative realities is to make excuses for why we can’t/won’t/shouldn’t put forth the effort required to change something we know needs to be changed. I’m too busy. I deserve such-and-such. At least I’m not as bad as someone else. And while there may be a skin of a reason attached to an excuse, I think the quote mentioned earlier stands on its own merits. More often than not, the excuse I’m giving for not doing something I know I should be doing is nothing more than a lie.
Bottom line: we all have things great and small for which we are prone to make excuses. Someone else used to say (I believe I heard my grandfather repeat it), “Don’t make excuses, make good.” In other words, the way to defeat your own excuses is simply to get started. Don’t just stand there, do something. This is not to say that every tough decision will become an easy one or that simple will power is good enough to overcome any obstacle.
Finally, I would be avoiding a huge part of my life if I didn’t explain to you how my faith fits into this discussion. Anyone who knows me well knows that God is at the center of my life. You should also know that I think it is entirely possible to over-insert God into discussions in which He has little to no interest. I would assert that many people commit the same error in reverse. For me, all decisions are spiritual. So, yes, even my decision to maintain a healthier weight and take care of myself through sleeping habits become (at some point) a reflection of the balance that accompanies a life being controlled by the Spirit of God. Does that mean I’ve got it all figured out? Not at all. These are things I’ve struggled with for years… and may still. But part of the reason I want to gain perspective on these issues is because I believe that as I do, I communicate the spirit and nature of Jesus in not making excuses for things I find unpleasant and/or difficult. Jesus, the Scripture says in the book of Hebrews, “…because of the joy awaiting him, endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” That’s no excuses living.