“He got one too!” was Thomas’ response when I confronted him about getting a second doughnut. He was 5 years old at the time and was only supposed to have one. Thomas’ comment was made in reference to Brewer, his brother, who is 2 1/2 years older.
Funny…both did something they weren’t supposed to do…but Thomas, at age 5, knew how to DIVERT his wrong doing by trying to turn some of the blame and attention to his older brother. A lame excuse but a true one. As I study sin and responsibility as an adult, looking deep into my own life–especially the last 7 or so years–I can truly see how from a very young age……our natural tendency is to not take responsibility for ourselves, our lives, our choices.
As in our boys’ doughnut story…just knowing what I know…I am sure there was some responsibility on Brewer’s part. As I look back, I realize Thomas was only 5 and could not have gotten to those doughnuts without Brewer’s help but nonetheless…if he was smart enough to divert…he was smart enough to say NO to the second doughnut but he chose not to!
Diversion is our “comfort food”. If we can blame or divert from ourselves, or make excuses, somehow it temporarily relieves the pain from our circumstances. Comfort is found in pointing to someone else to divert from ourselves, or in the big one our kids used, “Everyone else is doing it.” My response to that was, “If everyone else is jumping off of a cliff…does that mean you are going to do it too?” I am sorry but I think the reason, “Everyone else is doing it!” may be the lamest excuse in the universe!
If you think about it and study it, we as adults do the same thing. At times, instead of taking responsibility to change things we do not like about our lives or the situations we find ourselves in, we choose to divert, blame and make excuses. Allow me to give a few excuses I have heard recently and give you one of my own:
“My church doesn’t meet my needs.”
“My work is so demanding that I can’t find anyone to date.”
“My metabolism is so slow that I can’t lose weight.”
“My children do not help around the house. It is so frustrating.”
“I can’t pay my bills.”
“My boss is a bully.”
And here is mine, “I am so busy editing and the kids are home that I haven’t had the time to exercise.”
Excuses are usually true. But in taking control and responsibility for circumstances that aren’t desirable, the real question we should ask ourselves is, “So what?” Excuses are real but what are you going to do about the situation?
For me…yes, our kids are home for the holidays. Yes, editing the second book is time consuming but in reality, exercising could be done later in the day. If I really want to get it in, if it is important, then I should be able to find the time. I just don’t like doing it later in the day. It could mean a second shower and later in the day means maybe not as much energy for working out. But the excuse is just that, an excuse. If I am really unhappy about not exercising, I would do something about it!
What about the excuse–“church isn’t meeting my needs?” Maybe try a new church? Or decide to be the catalyst to start something in your current church that would meet your need?
OR, if your metabolism is slow, ask yourself what you are going to do about it–accept and just exist or find ways to elevate it? Decide you have to exercise more than the average person, or change your eating?
“I can’t pay my bills.” The person who made this statement has an 8 to 5 job, Monday through Friday. How about a part-time job on the weekends or at night? How about a part time business you can work from home in your spare time?
What if you have a bully for a boss? So what? Either…look for another job or go to counseling and find ways to deal with the bully.
Diversion is Satan’s tool for us to escape responsibility.
Taking responsibility and ownership for your life, especially circumstances that aren’t favorable, is a must. It may not be easy and it may require a lot of work. The good news is we don’t have to do it alone. We have God. He is the God who showed up in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He multiplied the 2 fish and 5 loaves. He parted the Red Sea; but he is also a God who asks us to own our lives and responsibilities.
Proverbs has several things to say to the sluggard. I’m not suggesting that we are all sluggards, but I do think it is worth it to look at the advice given. Proverbs 6:6, “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” Have you noticed how busy ants seem to be? They are small yet not hampered by the thought of a human who could interfere with their progress. Proverbs 13:4, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” We want change but it seems out of reach because of whatever excuse we have created. We are reminded here to be diligent.
God gave Adam all the animals in the garden but asked him to name them. He gave the one man one talent and, at the very least, expected him to invest it. He gave David the experience and victory over the lion and the bear which, in turn, equipped him with the confidence and experience to take on Goliath. God has expectations for us to meet. He has given us a mind, body and a soul with life experiences. He equips us with His Holy Spirit. He expects us to do the “people” things and He will do the “God” things.
WE live in a fallen world. Read Scripture and you get the full picture. It is as fallen today as it was 2000 years ago. The big question we need to ask ourselves is, “What excuses am I making?” What diversion or smoke screen am I hiding behind to shuck our responsibility? Proverbs 21:25, “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.” Or could we say, “Refusing to make the necessary changes?”
The responsibility step is to say, “Okay God…this is my circumstance….What can I do about it? Instead of wallowing, complaining, or being stuck…none of those are Your best for me….What pattern needs to be broken? What action can I take? What sin…do I need to repent of? Show me…no matter what it takes…then give me the strength to make a change!”
Year 2015 can look different and better for anyone……with a Holy God and a scalpel to carve out a true picture. Dissing excuses, diversions and smoke screens; seeing these patterns in your life is the first step to a different life. Life can be better, more peaceful and you can thrive, but you cannot leave God out of the equation. HE is the equipper. He is the source to help me, you or anyone…Change for the better.