Trapped in a bad life. Separating heroes from victims.

“I just did what I had to do.”

Those were the words of a young man I met while working in a prison.

He seemed very sincere. He told a story of being arrested for stealing money to buy food for his family. I listened carefully, as he told me his story. I imagined hungry children. Shivering, in a cold, dark apartment… Desperation.

I imagined him, the reluctant hero, playing Robin Hood to rescue his own family.

Then I asked a question about why he had to steal. Didn’t he have a job? No. He didn’t want a job. He wanted to work on his music and run around with other guys doing the same thing. He found money to get high everyday, but not enough to feed his kids.

So our conversation changed.

I informed him that he didn’t have to steal, he chose to steal. He wasn’t a victim or honorable for what happened. He wasn’t a hero for ending up in prison. He wasn’t justified in stealing from someone who worked for their money. He was just a lazy, ignorant, irresponsible theif.

For some reason, he didn’t want to talk to me anymore.

He made me think about every verse in Proverbs about laziness and foolishness.

Proverbs 12:11 “Those who work their land will have plenty to eat, but those who engage in empty pursuits have no sense.” They all read like that. The difference between wisdom and foolishness generally comes down to whether or not you will accept advice and if you are going to continue doing foolish things.

Spending your life like a hampster on a wheel, running and running and never going anywhere…. That gravitates towards foolishness. Refusing to make plans, to prepare for things that are inevitable, same thing. Doing the same things everyday, even if they destroy our health or family. All foolish.

And then there’s a whole different level. Spending the rent money to get high, drinking away your grocery money, buying toys for yourself when the kids need shoes.

Being broke after those decisions does not make your victim of an oppressive society or bad economy. It makes you a fool.

I have also heard that “busyness” is the worst type of laziness.

Refusing to sort out and prioritize your life. Allowing the insignificant tasks to receive equal time and concern, as the critical tasks, is both foolish and lazy. Spending hours, days… years… on jobs or projects that don’t benefit your family is tragedy.

Do you want to do better, or are you content to make excuses?

Ben Franklin is credited with this line. “A man who is good for making excuses, is seldom good for anything else.”

I really hate that line. It confronts me throughout my day. That big guy in the mirror shows things in my life that need to change, things I make excuses for. My savings account is another one. Junk in the garage seems to mock my excuses occasionally.

We all do it. We all make excuses. Some are legitimate, most aren’t.

I still hear that dumb kid telling me that he just did what he had to do.

I still hear and see a massive part of our own country that believes and lives the same way he did. Blame everyone else, disregard your own responsibilities, make excuses.

Can you really call yourself a hero and victim at the same time?

My wife has a shirt for the gym that says “Excuses don’t burn calories.”

Excuses don’t solve anything. Own your foolishness, admit the mistakes, then make a change.

Pretty much everyone has tough seasons in their life. Almost everyone is broke for a while. Hard times are part of life. Some things can’t be controlled, but most can.

Blaming others, justifying foolish decisions and making excuses is not the way to fix your life. Own it, fix it and move on.

If you don’t know where to start, take the 21 Day Challenge to save your family.

Seriously. It’s time to stop making excuses and get your life back. Be the hero.

21 Days to Save My Family

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