Think back to the last time you messed up. Perhaps you did something that really ticked someone off or you made a decision that turned your life over on its side for a while. Either way, you probably sat there wondering how you could be so stupid; or you at least sat in a sea of regret. Hey, we have all been there! As you pondered your actions, if you are like most, you then began explaining why you made the decision you did. Maybe your excuses often sound like one of the following statements.
- “Well, I only said what I did because she did that.”
- “I didn’t get the laundry done because I had a lot to do today.”
- “I yelled at my kids because I have been stressed out at work.” “
- “I was late because my hair wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do.”
Alright, perhaps they are reasons…in your mind. To the person whom they affect they are probably not good enough reasons, and instead, excuses. Truth-be-told, you didn’t have to respond negatively to someone else’s bad behavior, you could have gotten the laundry done if you made it a priority, your kids are not to blame for you being stressed out at work, and your hair is not more important than being on time. My point is this, you can agree that we make excuses for ourselves and mask them with reason. However, when someone else messes up and their mess affects our life, are we as quick to make excuses for them?
The other day my fifteen-year-old and I were in the SUV driving to McDonalds. While we were heading down 5th Street, there was an older gentleman riding his bicycle on the side of the road, instead of the side walk. Needless-to-say, this slowed down the flow of traffic. My daughter, with her young reasoning, said, “Why doesn’t he just use the sidewalk?” Me, the master of excuses, responded with, “Well, honey, he is older, and those sidewalks are bumpy. Maybe it hurts his body too much to ride over that many bumps.”
When I picked her up at McDonalds after eating breakfast with her soccer team, she got into the SUV and said, “I just now got my drink. Everyone else had their drink and we already ate, and I, literally, just got my drink.” My response to her was, “Honey, look around at how busy they are. It was just as busy when I dropped you off. The employees have been running ragged all morning, and they still must get through the lunch rush. Can you imagine having to keep everyone’s order strait, while keeping your head on strait through that madness? It is not as easy as it looks!”
Between the bicyclist and the McDonalds’ employees, I am grateful for the gift of being able to teach my daughter how to keep her peace through making excuses for other people. It is easy to make excuses for ourselves, but it is often difficult to give others the same curtesy excuses allow. So, this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to see how many excuses you can make for other people. If you are truly brave, you might just find yourself continuing this practice throughout the rest of the year; and perhaps, your lifetime.