Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
– Psalm 51:6
This conversation takes place a few years ago. The setting? The briefing room.
Sitting in this quiet side room after a 2 hour prayer set, my friend and I began to discuss an issue that had been plaguing my thought life. Leaning back, my face slowly began to contort in frustrated thought as my friend creatively doodled on the dry-erase board.
“Sarah… what’s wrong with him liking you?”
“Nothing’s wrong with him liking me.”
“So why don’t you give him a chance?”
“He’s younger than me by a year. He’s still in school. He doesn’t have a car...
He’s just… not right for me.”
“But you said it yourself. He’s saying all the right things. He’s doing all the right things. He’s the kind of guy you’ve been hoping for.”
“Yeah. But he’s younger than me. I’m more mature than him.”
“Wooow. You’re being pretty critical right now… and those aren’t necessarily good reasons. All that stuff is something he can grow in.”
“I just… don’t LIKE HIM LIKE THAT, OKAY?”
“Aaaaahhh!!! NOW we’re getting somewhere!”
It was pretty heated conversation between my guy friend and I… well, it was actually only heated on my side, that is. He was making a point; it was a point that needed to be made so that I could begin to mature as a woman of God. Whether he knew it or not, it would launch me into the beginnings of a shift that would take place in my heart and thought life… and it would trickle into the other areas of my life as well – starting with my dating life.
What was the shift towards, you ask?
Truth [noun]: 1. the true or actual state of a matter – dictionary.com
But first, let’s talk about…
Excuses! Excuses, excuses - we all have them!
Maybe they’re legit. Maybe they’re not. Regardless, I believe they should be used sparingly.
Before we go any further, let’s look up the word.
We’ll be looking at the first definition of “Excuse” as a noun firstly, as written by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Excuse – [noun]: The act of excusing.Excusing: Excuse-[verb]: (first definition, point b) to try to remove the blame from
Growing up, I made a lot of excuses.
Half the times they were indeed legitimate. Most of the time they had to do with why a chore wasn’t done or why my school work wasn’t completed.
When you’re the eldest of a large homeschooling family, there are infinite excuses to be made!
I was also a procrastinator and a poor manager of my time. This was the truth.
Alas, as one who was unpolished in her tactics, excuses became a way to shift the blame when the responsibility rightfully fell on my shoulders.
My parents caught on quickly of course and soon after, all of my excuses, whether warranted or not, became useless.
There’s a lesson to be learned in this. Fairytales and old folklore usually have a lesson or a moral at the end of their stories.
My moral of the story isn’t as simple as, “Use excuses sparingly!”
My moral of the story is, “Take responsibility, face your heart and delight in truth in the inward parts”.
I spent all my teen years verbally running circles around the truth but never arriving at it, when it came to my feelings.
I know people who do that today as adults. It’s the art of self deception.
Excuses play a big role in self-deception as they 'excuse' or release the person from facing the reality of what’s true.
In the conversation with my friend, I was verbally forced to face the truth which was – the guy was great but, I just wasn’t attracted to him.
I know now why I didn’t want to face that truth. I didn’t want to face it because it felt too shallow - too simple of a reason -- even for the likes of me.
Taking the truth on the jaw isn’t an easy thing.
Squaring our shoulders to look at our hearts forces us to acknowledge that we’re not as great as we think we are.
Or maybe, we find out we’re not as bad as we think we are after all.
But until that happens, excuses are nothing short of a passive alternative to reality…because everyone knows better… but the person making them tends to get off the hook.
Here’s a story for what I mean.
I once had a guy break up with me by starting off saying he wasn’t going to pull “God card” on me.
Okay, maybe a good start, I thought.
But after what was said, I was left wishing he had just used it instead.
He listed reason upon reason for why he didn’t think I was right for him.
Now mind you, these reasons were not necessarily negative, and they were things that could easily be fixed or talked through.
So of course I countered those reasons, feeling we could work them out, no problem.
I guess you could say that my desiring to work things out was a good thing, and even countering those reasons was a good thing in retrospect, because it verbally forced him to say the truth.
But at the time it felt humiliating, as all break ups seem to leave one feeling.
The truth finally came out – He didn’t want to work it out. Period. He wanted out.
So there it was.
All those reasons up until that point however, were straight up excuses… how?
Were they part of what helped him make his decision? Yes. Were they the true reasons? No.
The “reasons” for the breakup sound nicer, at least on his end. These reasons aren’t even bad reasons! What is one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But the problem was that stating all the ways I was wrong for him though not necessarily negative, shifted the responsibility of the failed relationship to me even though I wasn’t the one ending it. The reasons became excuses the moment the blame was shifted. I wasn’t ending the relationship however, so I wouldn’t have it. And that’s when the truth came out.
See, in order for a person to say the truth about what they’re feeling, they must face their heart and that means actually KNOWING the good, the bad, and the ugly of what’s truly there.
Now lets come back to my conversation in the beginning with my friend. In order for me to finally state the truth to him in the beginning dialogue, I had to be made aware of myself and how I actually felt – by my friend NOT allowing me to make excuses.
In his own search for truth, he told me to snap out of it and face mine.
As an honest friend and brother in Christ, he verbally pushed me into a corner and out of the self-deceptive cycle I had been caught in. It was in THIS moment that the Holy Spirit used a person to help set me free.
So now do I still use excuses when guys ask me out and I know I’m not into them?
“I have to wash my hair…”
“I need God time…”
“I’m taking time off from dating right now…”
“I’m actually in the process of becoming a nun…”
Haha…sometimes… for fun.
No. If I’m not interested, I just tell them.
If we’ve been dating and I’m not seeing it happen long term – I’m honest.
It’s as simple as that.
I’m not making excuses for my feelings anymore.
I’m not shifting the blame for my decisions anymore.
The truth might hurt, but the wounds of a friend are more faithful than the kisses from an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)
We invite each other into freedom when we delight in searching out and knowing the truth of our hearts. We can invite others because we’ve first been invited by the One who loves the truth and gives the wisdom to understand it, when we meet Him in the secret place.
He is the Lord… and the Lord is the Spirit. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.*
If we hold to what Jesus teaches (in the scriptures and in our quiet time) we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free*.
And hey, who the Son sets free? Yeah…he is free indeed.
*(2 Corinthians 3:17) (John 8:31-32) (John 8:36)