Everyone Needs an Excuse

Everyone Needs an Excuse September 21, 2012

Everyone needs an excuse.

Some people need an excuse for someone else. Some people need an excuse for doing what they shouldn’t have. Some people need an excuse for being late or absent.

But everyone needs an excuse for themselves.

I have this theory that we’re wired for greatness. We hope for change, we long for heroes, we despair at our failings, and our hearts get encrusted with fear.

These are the bad excuses.

That’s where the first kind of excuse comes in…

  • “But I’m too busy.”
  • “But I have student debt.”
  • “But I don’t know how.”
  • “But I have this tumor.”
  • “But think what people would say.”

We say these and a thousand others aloud to people we know. But we’re really saying them to ourselves. We are saying why we’re not doing what we really want to be doing, what we should be doing, what would be great and heroic.

Lately I’ve been thinking that this might spring from some existential angst about our own mortality. We get scared of failure. Our ancestor hunter-gathers weren’t afraid of failure. They were afraid of starving. They understood the risks and went for it, because if that antelope or buffalo or whale got away, there was no food.

If I am making decisions because I fear failure, I am starving.

The other kind of excuse is a lot more fun. With everyone making excuses for why they’re not living amazing days—the life they really want—the norm shifts. Pretty soon it’s expected that you’re kind of stuck, not really happy, not really living. When this happens, the kind of excuse you need shifts.

These are the good excuses.

You now need an excuse to have an amazing day. You need an excuse to take risks. You need an excuse to be heroic for people in hard places.  You need an excuse to have fun.

In our years overseas, I had a built-in excuse. While abroad, I could write off almost anything as “because I am a foreigner.” People expected strange living. While in the U.S., it was the same deal, but “because I’ve been living overseas.”

We’ve also found that kids are often a great excuse for living amazing days. You can marvel at a beetle, paint a picture, talk to a person living on the street, or raise money for World Vision.

Now, in the process of continuing to blog here, write a column for Relevant, and release our new book, there have been ample excuses to justify living differently, for having amazing days.

But I wanted to give you good excuse, in case you needed one.

So today, on my birthday, I’m inviting my friends (even the ones I don’t know yet) to do something fun, weird, faith-filled, or good—something amazing. And post about it here in the comments or over on our Facebook page.

There’s your excuse. Now get after it!

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