Authenticity, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Excuse: Why We Use Excuses

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—EXCUSE. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. We write for five minutes on a given word. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out the Five Minute Friday website. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

EXCUSE

“Mom, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to get ice-cream without permission.”

“I have to do this thing in my room (translate: goof off for awhile) before I do my homework.”

“I can’t help this behavior, it’s just the way I am.”

“Sorry, I’m having an off day. Normally, I keep all my appointments, and I’m five minutes early.”

Excuses.

We’ve all used them. I find we tend to fall back on them for various reasons. They cover over an aspect or a shortcoming within us that we don’t want exposed.

We may want to avoid trouble. Or avoid doing something unpleasant.

Or perhaps we’re trying to veneer a shortcoming. Or slip on a mask that make us look better to someone else.

As I thought about excuses, I realized that most of the reasons we use them is to cover or hide something that we consider inadequate about ourselves.

We don’t always want to own our mistakes. We’d rather hide them and justify why we did (or didn’t) do something.

Using excuses often reveals our struggle with insecurity. We don’t want people to see the real us. We are afraid people will find us lacking in some way.

Or am I the only one who deals with that?

When we try to justify something we did and make it sound okay?

The “I’m sorry I’m late. I’m usually five minutes early.”

We want to make ourselves look good to someone else.

The thing is? God knows our hearts. He knows the areas in our hearts where we’re afraid we fall short in the eyes of others.

God’s not asking us to wear a facade in front of those around us. He wants us to be authentic.

When we own our mistakes to others, we open the door to vulnerability.

When we admit our desire to get out of something, our real-ness provides a safe place for others to admit when they have felt or done something similar.

And, when we own the fact that we are less than perfect? Wow. That is a powerful testimony to others. Because it’s only when we’re willing to strip away the excuses and let God shine through the cracks in our lives that we can truly reflect Him to those around us.

What about you? How do you choose authenticity over excuses? What’s the funniest excuse you’ve ever heard (or used)?

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Excuse.

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26 thoughts on “Excuse: Why We Use Excuses”

  1. I’m learning to excuse myself less. I DO suffer from fear of not measuring up. But I know God wants me to be real, so I’m learning to quit making excuses for myself. Sometimes, it’s painful and embarassing. But I think I like myself better when I don’t spread excuses for myself.

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    1. One great thing about growing older is that we learn how to see things through a more accurate lens. I’m with you. I am learning to be real. And to not make excuses when I fail, fall short, or feel uncertain. Thank goodness God helps us when we come to Him, eh?

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  2. Well said, friend! I think you’re right– excuses are used to hide an insecurity about ourselves. We don’t want to admit this or that, so we hide it. “They cover over an aspect or a shortcoming within us that we don’t want exposed.”– SO true. We’re scared to mess up for people or let them down, so we cover ourselves. Think of Adam and Eve– the first thing they did was cover themselves up when they sinned. Crazy how that works.

    Linked up right behind you, friend!

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    1. Jordan, I hadn’t thought about how early on in human history excuse-making began! Yes, Adam and Eve both made excuses, blame-shifted and covered themselves. I suspect it’s an intrinsic part of our fallen human nature. Thank goodness our God is patient as we grow into deeper authenticity! Thanks for sharing your insight!

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  3. Loved this, and the pictures are great.

    “When we own up to the fact that we are less than perfect…”…uh, WHOA, there, pardner. I’m flawless in every way, and the only mistake I ever made was thinking I might have been wrong about something (turned out I wasn’t). When God made me He did a SnOoPyDaNcE.

    Ohhh, dear. EgoMan’s gotten out again. Half a minute, whilst I return him to his box?

    There. That’s better.

    When I was young, I actually didn’t admit to many mistakes, and would not hesitate to flatten anyone who criticized me. I was pretty big by the time I was ten, and even teachers were loath to correct me, as I flung a couple through classroom windows. I also started carrying a pistol at around that age, so I was pretty well left to my own devices.

    Maturity came when I learned to fly, because aeroplanes do not recognize hubris, except to willfully prick it. That set me on a better path to become the picture of Godlike humility I am today.

    EgoMan! Get BACK in there! GRRR! Only one six-pack for YOU tonight.

    It was a long process, but I was able to at least back into a kind of humility, and took some pride in making no excuses for my failings; instead it would be something of a challenge to others…”Will YOU ‘fess up when you…uh, foul up?”

    And the funniest excuse I ever heard was a classmate who said, “The dog ate my homework project,” and he brought the dog to school. (The project was the making of a bead bracelet.)

    And tried to make the dog ‘produce’; the effort was, to the teacher’s horror, successful.

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    1. When I wasn’t guffawing through reading your post, I was nodding my head, Andrew. One of our boys will not admit to his mistakes (much less apologize). It is a pride-thing. And sometimes I think it’s a reaction to cover over an internal shame. I suspect we all have to work through pride and ask God to help us transform it to humility. Which is (at least for me) a long process.

      And your story about your classmate and the beads . . . ? I laughed out loud, and then I felt the teacher’s pain. 😉

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  4. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

    God knows our hearts and it is something I find fascinating. What would we do if regular people really knew our hearts as God does? We would be terrified, right? We offer a glimpse of our hearts when we speak: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.”

    Thanks for bringing up these thoughts for me as I read your post. I am convicted to be more concerned about what God thinks (and how He knows us) than what man thinks about me. It is a daily fight in the mind that needs God’s power.

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    1. Erendira, there have been many times I’ve thanked God for being the only One who really knows my heart (outside my limited knowledge). I’m thankful God is gracious enough to do that continuing work of transforming us into His image. When we make the effort to emulate Him in our words and actions, even when our hearts don’t align with our words and actions. God works on aligning all as we spend time with Him, doesn’t He?

      If it makes you feel better, God convicted my heart too. I hadn’t thought much about what is behind our excuses until yesterday. I’m looking at them differently now. 😉

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  5. Jeanne,
    You’ve got me pondering…I think I make excuses for a lot of reasons. Yes, one is to mask insecurities. I want to come across as seeming better or more together than I am. Maybe that’s pride tied in there too? Other times I make excuses because I am afraid to give the real reason. Like I’ll make excuses for why I don’t do something and instead of being authentic and saying nicely that I really don’t care to….I’ll make an excuse. I also have some social anxiety and sometimes I’ll make excuses because I just don’t want to deal with the discomfort of it all….I suppose that’s fear?? Hmmmm…. now you’ve got me thinking. But that’s okay I guess?!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. “Me too,” Bev. I use excuses for the same reasons. I have a couple of friends who have a way of keeping me honest about those uncomfortable places in my life. Conflict, not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, not wanting to take the time to explain why I don’t want to do something . . . yeah, an excuse seems easier, but it’s not really honest, is it? Thank you for sharing your thoughts here, friend. I’m seeing more areas in my life where I need to choose authenticity. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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  6. Best/worst excuse I have ever used: I worked a retail job for two weeks. I hated it. I told my boss that I had a “family emergency” and I wouldn’t be back. The “emergency” was that I wanted to go to meet my then-boyfriend’s family. (Okay, this may have crossed the line into a outright lie).

    I want to be authentic. I really do. At the same time, I am naturally quite pessimistic. So, when I am authentic, and then find something/someone I was pessimistic about confirms the pessimism, I feel justified in retreating further. It’s a bad cycle that I’m working hard to get out of.

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    1. Awwww, Marie. Retail is hard, even for ambiverts like me, and extroverts. I cracked up when I read your excuse for not showing up. “Family emergency” covers a lot of things, doesn’t it?

      I agree with you. Authenticity is HARD. I believe it is perfectly fine not to share the deepest levels of who we are with everyone. I only have a few very close friends who know my story, my wounds, those things that trigger wounds. But, I can be different levels of authentic with other people, depending on how much I do/don’t trust them. Sometimes, authenticity is just being honest about something we’d rather make an excuse about. 🙂 I’m glad you’re working to get out of that cycle. It’s a little scary, but it’s good in the long run.

      My two cents. 😉

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  7. I will authenticity is one of the biggest “challenges” for me – even as a blogger (behind a screen)….authenticity brings vulnerability. But challenges are good and I am learning as I go:)

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    1. Authenticity is hard, Jennifer! I am still working up the “brave” to be authentic in different situations. I’ve been hurt, and it’s not something I willingly walk into. But, I’m learning there are times when I need to choose to be vulnerable, or else I live life in observer-mode, which is pretty isolating. I’m glad I’m not the only one learning. 🙂 Have a great Thanksgiving!

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  8. Jeanne, I think getting older helps! Though I don’t seem to be able to let go of the habit of apologising for everything/breathing, I am less likely to try to hide or excuse my flaws. Blogging has opened up a public platform to share my imperfections on. And though being vulnerable has its risks, it certainly helps to pave the way for those treasured “me too” moments! I love your words and images here. All provide sweet food for thought. Bless you, friend! xo 😊 💜

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    1. Joy, I smiled when I read your comment. I am an apologizer (apologiser) too. Blogging has helped me to open up about some of my “stuff” too, and to learn to share more openly. And yes to those “me too” moments. There’s something beautiful about connecting with someone on a topic or life experience, isn’t there?

      I am blessed by your words and your encouragement. Have a great week, friend!

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  9. Jeanne, I’ve certainly been guilty of that. I think my excuses are usually because I don’t want anyone mad at me or disappointed in me. But yeah, here lately, I’ve been taking off that “people pleaser” and taking the heat … Because like you said, God knows our hearts, regardless of what others think of us. And I don’t want to tell a half truth, etc … this is it, and please Lord, take care of me. 🙂 ❤

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    1. Shelli, for too long I’ve lived in the “keep people happy” mode. It’s hard to be in that place all the time. It does seem that, as I age, it’s becoming easier to set boundaries and be okay if someone’s not pleased with my choices. Thank goodness God knows our hearts, and He loves us! Thanks for sharing a piece of your heart here, friend!

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  10. You hit it right on for me when you mention our excuses can be a way to hide from our own short-comings, fearful others may see our flawed selves. I can be very hard on myself and this is reflected too in my excuses, I believe. I was taught once that a true apology is never followed by an excuse. It’s sure not easy to not defend my actions when giving an apology for being late or forgetting something especially!

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    1. Lynn, wow. “Me too.” It’s difficult to face our shortcomings, to own them, even. I’ve had friends tell me I was/am too hard on myself, but I don’t know how to be anything else. I guess it’s only as I ask God to help me see myself through His eyes that I am learning to give myself grace when I mess up. And I learned that same lesson about apologies. I’m trying to instill that truth in our sons as well. Thanks for sharing openly here, friend!

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