Written by Christy Gibas
My dad tells a funny story that has always resonated with me. When he was young, he worked in a restaurant in Pittsburgh. Anytime someone broke a dish, the manager required them to write on a board what the reason was for the mishap. Most would write things like, “it slipped out of my hand,” or “the tray wobbled.” But when the manager broke a dish, he would walk over to the board and write in large letters, “GROSS NEGLIGENCE.”
We always laughed when my dad told us that story, but the meaning came through. At times over the years when I have totally screwed up I have responded, “GROSS NEGLIGENCE.” Some have laughed at my honesty while others were completely thrown off guard. We are so eager to excuse our behavior instead of admitting our failures. It’s easier to believe that failure was out of our control. We can’t stop drinking because of the stress we are under. We lose our temper because other people make us angry. We are unable to change a habit because of something that has happened to us in our childhood. These are all convenient excuses to keep us from being free. Excuses keep us stuck in the mud. Excuses keep us stagnant and tied to our behaviors and shortcomings. Excuses are the words of the powerless that say, “What happens is beyond my control.”
But there is a better way. There is great power and freedom in owning our circumstances. When we take personal responsibility for our actions healing and change can begin. God’s truth is that we never have to stay where we are. When we let go of excuses, we make room for the power of God to work in our lives and change us. Romans 12:2 (NLT) tells us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you well learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
The road to freedom is paved with responsibility. It is the custom of our world to shift blame and make excuses instead of admitting, “GROSS NEGLIGENCE.” The day we take responsibility is a glorious day where victim mentality dies and victorious living in freedom begins.