Excuse making is one connection to stress and anxiety. Excuses keep us from trusting God, erode human relationships, and weaken character. The default mode for the excuse maker is to shift blame. This means the ability to trust God by exercising repentance is significantly reduced. Living a life of faith characterized by repentance brings hope and peace. Excuses result in frustration and blame-shifting. This is how the Holy Spirit describes the difference:
“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
Concealing sins—that is, making excuses—destroys trust in God. But repentance yields mercy and the blessing of God. Listen to yourself. Listen to your children. If you hear responses like these, look for patterns of excuse-making:
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be angry.”
“I guess I’m just tired.”
“He was mean to me.”
“If you were just a little nicer, it would be a lot easier.”
“Being inside because of the weather makes me cranky.”
“It wasn’t my fault, I’m just not feeling well.”
These responses are examples of excuses. There is no repentance here, only regret and frustration. However, if repentance is the first response, you can be confident of God’s mercy. You don’t have to look for an excuse. You can avoid the stress of shifting blame and experience the freedom of repentance. You know that you are forgiven and can trust God for help to change. Repentance is the path of freedom.
One definition of repentance that you can give to your children is: “changing my mind and turning around to do the right thing.” This is a profound and beautiful truth. When sin occurs, excuses only deepen the damage. Quickly deciding to repent and do what is right is the path of faith and freedom.
Here is a prayer for repentance:
“God, thank you for making repentance possible by sending Jesus to live and die in my place. Thank you that my sin doesn’t separate me from your love. But still, sometimes it is hard to repent, especially when I am stubborn and angry and I just want my own way. Please give me a repentant heart and help me to love you more. In Jesus name, Amen.” (from Get Wisdom! by Ruth Younts).
Teach this prayer to your children. Learn to pray it for yourself. Lead your children away from the tyranny and stress of excuse-making. Show them the joy and freedom of repentance.