I’d Really Like To….. (Excuses Part 1)

Love will find a way. Indifference will find an excuse.

“I’d really like to get together, but I’m awfully busy right now.”

I don’t doubt that my friend is really busy. But guess what—we’re ALL busy. The message I heard was, “Having lunch with you isn’t as important as the other things I’m choosing to do.”

Is that unfairly harsh? Perhaps, but it got me thinking about the difference between reasons and excuses. I’d like to do a series of three articles about this topic, pointing toward Friday’s thoughts that may ruffle a few feathers.

I got an object lesson on excuses this weekend while riding my hand cycle—that tends to be where I do a lot of random thinking.

I approached a moderate hill and found myself slowing down. I realized I was concocting a lie to tell myself.

The Excuse

“I’d really like to keep cranking up this hill, but I’m too tired. I need to rest first.”

That simply wasn’t true. It was an excuse.

I’d been riding for about thirty minutes, so I was a little tired. But too exhausted to continue cranking up the hill? No.

The excuse was a lie to avoid admitting the actual reason. I really wanted to defer the discomfort of cranking up the incline. I knew it would hurt a bit.

I was afraid, but instead of acknowledging the fear of pain I was prepared to lie to myself. This excuse-making is a nasty, self-defeating habit. So I tried altering my self-talk.

The Reason

“I’d really like to keep cranking up this hill. I’m a little tired and I’m afraid of the pain, but I can make it to the top.”

And that’s what happened. My shoulders hurt, but it wasn’t that bad. I kept moving, repeating the process each time I felt myself slowing out of habit. Soon I’d cranked ten miles, and I stopped.

But this stop was different. It’s important to stay hydrated on a long ride, and since I pedal and steer with my arms I can’t safely drink while I’m moving. Plus, it was a nice shady spot by a stream and it was time for a rest.

Reasons, not excuses. I stopped this time by choice. I wanted to rest, I needed to drink.

See the difference?

I use a wheelchair because my legs are paralyzed—that’s a reason. I can’t go into that building because it’s hard to climb the ramp—that’s an excuse.

I’m thinking about excuses I use a lot.

  • Excuse: I’d really like to study the bible more, but I don’t have time.
    Reason: I choose to watch too much television instead.
  • Excuse: I’d like to do some longer rides, but the weather’s too hot.
    Reason: I choose to leave my blog post to finish in the morning so I get a late start.
  • Excuse: I’d like to do morning devotions, but I need to get started on work.
    Reason: I choose to stay up late. It’s a higher priority than devotions.
  • Excuse: I’d like to promote Relentless Grace, but if people really like it the word will spread.
    Reason: I’m afraid of appearing to be a self-promoting spammer and I allow the fear to control my actions.

Excuses are lies designed to fool myself or someone else. Even when the real reason isn’t very positive, it feels a lot better when I’m honest about the reason rather than offering an excuse that usually fools nobody.

The only person who is really free is one who can turn down a dinner invitation without giving an excuse. Jules Renard

What’s a favorite excuse for you? What’s the true reason behind the excuse?