The Art of Excuses

Today’s lesson is brought to you by the art of excuses:

It has been two months, one week, and two days since I last wrote a coaching post. I realize that, whether you do or not, but because both the lack of writing and the art of excuses is like a burr under my saddle these days, I thought it best to be upfront. Tell it like it is and exaggerate what it isn’t, while I want you to still like me and give me grace because I was on vacation and did a retreat and then my dad died and I got a cold and it’s election season and I’m sick and tired of political ads and I just need some time to be alone because the life coach says some white space and boundaries is good for you, but then again it gets lonely when the phone doesn’t ring when it should and downright annoying when it shouldn’t because after all, my number is listed on the non-existent Do Not Call list, and …


Please forgive my justification of the reason I mount my defense of pretext that I owe you an explanation or apology.

That, my friends, is the art of excuses in its finest form. Using every synonym that came up in Word’s thesaurus and then expounding on it.

See? I can practice the art of excuses with the best of ’em – and spent part of my life caught in that trap. And believe me, it is a trap. Hinged both ways.

It works like this: make a commitment. make a deal. make a pinky promise. Whatever it is, tell someone you’re going to do, say, or follow-through on something. Then don’t. And hope no one brings it up.

If they do: time for art class! Perfect the art of excuses by practicing it repeatedly. The sprung trap will keep springing until the hinged both ways becomes the new reality – 1) the art of excuses is now a habitual knee-jerk reaction with pretty much the same worn-out phrasing, which 2) causes the one to whom the art of excuses is being expounded to no longer believe what is told them.

The old fable of Peter and the Wolf comes to mind. Slight different analogy, but same principle: if it’s been said or promised enough times but nothing ever comes of it, the village no longer listens. It goes in one ear and out the other. On the rare occasion it actually happens, there is a single-use joystick waved, until the next time. It takes a lot of not-so-rare and much-more-common occasions to add some score.

What makes it work differently? When you say it and do it. Simple as that, but oh so hard. Becuzzy, it’s just too easy-peasy to revert to practicing the art of excuses.

So. Why do we practice this as the art of choice? Because it’s too hard to bring ourselves to be truthful.

If we told the truth about how we really feel it would mean examining what’s going on in our emotions. Every memory has an emotion attached to it. But because we don’t wanna think about it and don’t have time because life is so busy, we know what to do! Let’s develop a coping mechanism instead and label it a bad habit because we really do know what we need to do / should do / promised to do but words are so easy to say to get you off my back / meet your expectation / fill the silent gap. This just might work!

Unfortunately, no. It might not. Largely because we don’t make excuses to a fence post. We make them to each other. And each other has feelings.

From the days of Adam and Eve, human nature’s distorted design is to practice the art of excuses. And from those same days, redemption of truthful relationship was initiated by the One to whom we learned to excuse ourselves.

God didn’t settle for it then, and He doesn’t settle for it now. He offers grace, minus the art of excuses.


If this is an area in which you struggle, know that you companion with a multitude of others. However, that knowledge does not provide license to continue practicing the art of excuses.

What it does provide is the knowledge that you and I can partner with God in redemptive opportunities to learn a new habit, that of living in congruence: if we say it, then do it.

One of the best truthful habits I learned while practicing the art of learning not to make excuses, was to say nothing, make no promise, and speak up only when I had determined I would follow through.

In short, the art of excuses can be overcome
by practicing the discipline of being a keeper of one’s word.

It’s renewing the mind instead of constantly changing one’s mind with a palette-ful of the art of excuses.

Spring the trap, my friend. Practice on not making excuses to yourself. Then take on the fence posts 🙂

~ Nancy

The Art of … word pictures of human nature

photo credit: H&T PhotoWalks Inner Court via photopin (license)

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