Monday, August 8, 2011

Excuses and Explanations

I was facing my attorney through the glass window; he asked "Were you on drugs? alcohol? something I can use a defense?"

"No," I replied, head down, hands folded in front of me.

"They have you on camera, there really isn't any way out of this. But if you can give me your reasoning, what you were thinking."

A few weeks later, standing in the court room, the prosecutor asked "Do you have a drug or alcohol problem?"

Then the Court Clerk, conducting the pre-probation interview asked the same thing. "What were you thinking? Do you have a drug addiction or problem with alcohol?" She was angry and barely kept her voice from echoing through the room. She kept at me, "What were you thinking, give me an excuse for this kind of behavior!"

Everyone wanted a reason, an excuse really, that would allow them to be okay with my crimes. Heck, didn't they know I wanted the same thing? I wanted a really good excuse that would allow me to just walk away from this and get the pity and leniency that others were being shown.

I told my attorney about my childhood sexual abuse, about how lonely and scared and tired I was. I told him about working long hours for the Department of Family and Protective Services and how I was owed over $1200 in travel expenses and money was non-existent for me. I told him lots of things; excuses but not explanations.

I didn't want to sound like I was making excuses, in my heart I really wanted to take full responsibility and I wanted people to see that in my eyes and hear it in my voice and realize that I felt true repentance and shame and guilt; not at getting caught but at what I had done. I wanted them to know I wasn't just some "habitual criminal" that thought I deserved whatever I could get and yet........

There are no excuses or explanations or any words that make bad judgment, bad decisions, bad behavior okay. It is what it is. It's a mistake, some worse than others but all just big ole mistakes. But it's really more than that; it's sin. It's a break from God's moral law and His best idea of who we are. And it is only Him that can make us clean and pure in His eyes again.

But praise Him for so long ago, thousands of years before I would make my "mistakes", He would make a way to preserve, redeem and reconcile He and I. Praise Him for knowing and for creating my salvation long before anyone would know I would need it and praise Him for allowing me the opportunity to need Him so much that I would break down every objection to Him I ever had so that I could accept His free gift of forgiveness, mercy, grace and love.

I've often heard the women I work with say "I'm not trying to make excuses, I'm just trying to explain what happened." The crazy truth is there is little difference between an excuse and an explanation. The truth is I have suffered some of the same tragic experiences that they have; some more, some less. But our past is not an excuse or explanation of our choice of sin. The bible tells us that our sin nature is part of our flesh; and we can either walk in the flesh and go about sinning or we can call upon the power of the Holy Spirit to help us walk with Him and follow only His will for our life.

Today I hope I walk more in the Spirit than in the flesh; I hope as I walk along people see the glow of Him in my life and they don't have to ask "Give me a reason why you did that?" but instead ask "How is it you can do that, I want to live like that!" And I can say, "There's only one explanation and His name is Jesus Christ!"

I hope someday someone will say that to me.....that someday they will want what I have in my heart and they will want it because the way I walk through life shows something that they don't often see. But mostly I want to live a life free of excuses and explanations; living more for Him and less for me.  Everyday, I want to live more in a way that doesn't have a need of excuses and explanations.  Every day I want a chance to say "I do what I do because I have Jesus." and know that is the only explanation that is valid.  Anything less is an excuse for poor living and poor living is sin.  Rich in the Lord; poor in sin.  Explain away that, if you can.  .

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