Whenever I hear someone start their sentence with these three words, I immediately think (sometimes sarcastically, if I must admit) “Oh this is going to be good.” I know that it is not always followed by some excuse for one’s actions but it is what I prepare myself for when I first encounter this opening line.
A few weeks ago, I hesitantly posted “How do you like your steak?”. For many reasons I was nervous about releasing it to the public and it was one of those times where I have wondered if I’ve just said too much… One of things that I was very tempted to do in that particular post was to add in comments and information that would make me look ‘not so bad’. It would have been easy to tell my story and paint a picture that excuses a bit of my behaviour or make me feel better about my actions. No one is particularly fond of portraying themselves in a bad light and we all want others to think we are great. However, we don’t really fool anyone when we try to pretend like we are perfect or our lives are perfect because we are all flawed human beings living in an unperfect world. I really want to strive for an honesty and authenticity in all areas of my life and if that includes stopping myself from excusing some of my actions then I guess I should start putting that into practice. Perhaps, that means removing these three letter from my vocabulary for a time. But in my defence, I don’t feel like I say it that often…
I think I heard a lot of this in the past year or so ( or perhaps I just became more aware of it). It began to bother me a bit more when it crept into conversations with my peers at church or within the Christian circles. “I don’t have time”. “I don’t have money.” “I’m treating them like that because I feel like this.” And it always seems to be a deflection of recognising our own circumstances or our own attitudes and pushing blame on to anyone or anything else but ourselves. Yes, work may be really tough and that person may not be so pleasant to be around but it’s no excuse for our actions at times. We are so out of control with the things that cross our paths but we still have a responsibility in our reactions to those things. What is that responsibility, even when all I feel like doing is retaliating with my tongue or behaviours? What does Christ expect from us when we act out wrongly? Does he want us to list out the reasons for why we did it, or does he simply want us to recognise that wrong and own up to it? Is it that simple?
There is a post that I want to write called Picture Perfect another time, so I won’t say too much on this subject. However, we are so encouraged by tv, magazines, social media, culture…you name it.. to present ourselves without blemish. Facebook’s newsfeed ,marjority of the time, informs us of all the wonderful things that are going on while magazines are photoshopped to remove and trim to what it thinks is presentable. No wonder when we go to respond to a flaw or wrongdoing, we immediately think of how to either cover it up or cushion it with all the reasons of why. I do believe that talking through the why’s are important, don’t get me wrong. They bring enlightment and humanise the situation which can result in sympathetic understandings. But what if we challenged ourselves to at least be honest with ourselves and take responsibility for how we react. “I said that I didn’t have the time or money but actually I just wanted to do my own thing.”. “I lost my temper with so and so and I shouldn’t have spoke to them in that way.” Sometimes, others can see through our excuses and we walk further and further away from the authentic life that I think God wants us to live.
Jesus was always one to get to the heart of the matter. There wasn’t much time for excuses. He observed the fatality of presenting ourselves without blame or blemish while on the inside we live a life of the complete opposite. Jesus caught the Pharisees out on so many occassions for living an unauthentic or hypoctitical lifestyle.
Matt 23:27-29 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
What do you think are the differences between hypocrisy and simply not being transparent with others? Ok, so we don’t need to declare our innermost thoughts from the rooftops all of the time but what do we need to do in order to share an authentic life with those around us? Is it admitting that we reacted wrongly and apologising? Is it being honest when someone asks us to do something or why you responded in the way that you did? If we strived to lead in authenticity then do you think that our relationship with God and with others would become more authentic?
I understand authenticity emcompasses more than simply being open and honest. For now, I just wanted to touch base on what it is to hold onto transparency in our lives and let go of the excuses we are quick to share first. Those were just a few thoughts I had since I shared some of my story in a previous post and how I wrestled with wanting to excuse all of my actions. Maybe, reader, you have some insight for me on this too 🙂
I want to end with seeking to replace In My Defence with running to God for protection, refuge and perhaps even defense. For the name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18.10. I might need to ask for forgiveness or seek His example before I make that rash response, but He is my strong, defending tower, who is unblemish, untarnished and without blame.
Here is an old photo of a tower at the Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare, Ireland
Also, I always feel like I’m either giving out in my posts or they are just a bunch of cheese. Anyways…no excuses…