Are Excuses Keeping You From Your Potential?

I-cantWe humans are creatures of comfort and ease. When given a choice, we will usually take the short cut, the easy road, the comfortable way. We tend to complain when life is difficult, things don’t turn out as we planned, or we encounter setbacks. Rather than becoming more determined to accomplish what we desire, resolving to do whatever it takes, we begin to make excuses for why we can’t do it. It has been said that if something is important to you, you will absolutely find a way. If not, you will find an excuse. This is so true. Those who are desperate are willing to do what it takes, no matter how hard it may be, how long it may take, or how much it will cost. As the old adage goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

The best illustration I can think of is someone who is physically impaired in some way, yet trains for years, taxing their strength, draining their emotions, and pushing beyond their limits to achieve what most would have deemed impossible. Yet they refused to accept that because somewhere deep inside them they believed it could be done, and that they could somehow accomplish it. Why is it that some have that kind of determination, while others seem content to just give up and accept defeat? I don’t know about you, but I have often pondered that question.

I’m sure there are many reasons, but I believe the core difference is that some people seem to have an innate sense of destiny, purpose, and greatness. Not necessarily that they will be famous one day, or publicly applauded for some great achievement, but that they are capable of so much more than they have yet to attain. Trials, difficulties, and setbacks only seem to spur them on even more. The thought of quitting or settling for less is reprehensible to them. We often call such people overachievers, driven, overcomers, as if their behavior is abnormal; they tend to overdo too much, are too extreme, or don’t know when to quit. Those kinds of people make the rest of us look bad, because if they can do it, that means it can be done. Which leaves the rest of us without a real excuse. We then have to face the truth – why am I not reaching my full potential?

The truth, I believe, is that most of us don’t see ourselves as worthy of achieving great things. After all, we’re all just ordinary, run of the mill folks just trying to get through each day and pay our bills, raise our families, do our jobs…right? We are content to live mediocre lives, believing that’s the best we can hope for, and to do that is better than most peoples’ lives. Besides, if we get our hopes up too much, we may be disappointed. Then we would know that we are nobody special. And therein lies the root of our excuses.

You were created for greatness by the all-powerful, all-loving Creator of the universe. You have been given destiny and purpose far beyond surviving each day. If you are a believer in Jesus, He lives within you, enabling you to do ALL things. He is with you, for you, and in you, therefore nothing and no one that matters can be against you. I encourage you to dare to believe Him. Dare to believe that what is impossible for you is possible for Him, working in and through you. When you live a life without excuses, you glorify the One who does all things well.

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Learning to Embrace Your Humanity

Group of smiling friends against white backgroundI saw this short quote posted on Facebook yesterday and it really spoke to me. It said, “When you’re hurting give yourself permission to hurt. You don’t have to have it all together. Give yourself the same mercy and grace you would extend to others.”  I suppose it spoke to me because I’ve been guilty of doing just the opposite. Most of us, I believe, tend to be our own worst enemy. We expect WAY more from ourselves than even God does. The devil doesn’t have to attack us because we do a great job of it most days! We not only need to learn to give ourselves permission to hurt, we need to give ourselves permission to be human.

We need to be okay with messing up, even failing sometimes. It doesn’t mean we quit trying and give up, thinking we’ll never get it right. It doesn’t mean we don’t continue to stand on God’s word when we struggle. Yes, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Yes, His power is made perfect in our weakness. Yes, we can be content in all circumstances. All of these things are true, but sometimes we just need to accept, without shame, our frailty, our struggle with our flesh, our hurts and pains and failures. None of these things make us a failure as Christians. They make us human. God knew our weaknesses and frailty – before He even made us! And still, He made us anyway. Mind blowing, for sure.

Despite what society, or the church, or our culture, or our friends and family think or say, we don’t have to have it together all the time. In fact, I would go so far as to say we can’t. We might go for years trying to keep up that appearance, but eventually something has to give. It could be our health, our relationships, our walk with God, among other things. God’s been teaching me lately it’s okay that some days I don’t feel like praying (gasp, did I just say that?), or reading my Bible, or being nice to people who are rude, or going out of my way for someone. Some days I just want to be. To not have to think, or talk to anyone, or do what I “ought” to be doing. And it’s okay, because He understands I am flesh.

Psalm 103:13-14 says, As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”  Did you catch that last phrase? He remembers that we are dust. I’ve pondered this passage a time or two. I mean, what exactly does dust do? I know the psalmist is referring to our bodies made of clay, but still. When I think about it, it really takes the pressure off. God knows that me and you are going to have days we blow it. Amazingly, He loves us just the same. His love isn’t based on our performance, our getting it right all the time. His love is based on WHO HE IS. He IS love. He is the embodiment of love. We need to learn to receive His love, for only then can we truly begin to love ourselves. When we love ourselves, we are free to embrace our humanity, our weaknesses and frailities, even our failures, without condemning ourselves. Because He does. 

At the same time, we don’t want to embrace and settle for mediocrity. We were created for great things that God prepared in advance for us. (Eph. 2:10) As His representatives on the earth, we should be excellent in all we say and do, that we may glorify Him. We have been given everything we need to live this life He has called us to. (2 Peter 1:3-4) Even so, some days we’re just going to be human, and that’s okay.

Do you struggle with giving yourself permission to hurt, to fail, to blow it? I would love to hear your stories! Please comment below.