I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I see where I am.
It’s my fault.
I get out immediately.
(Read the rest of this poem here.) For this week we begin and stop here.
You’re there again, on the same street, with the same hole, the same warning signs and the same dangers. Once again you don’t turn back even though you know exactly how this is going to end. You see the hole this time. It’s big, it’s deep and it’s scary but it’s also strangely inviting and eerily comforting. You’re conflicted and a bit embarrassed. You wonder why you’re drawn to this bad habit and these bad decisions that you seem to continually make.
You walk closer and closer to the hole. On one hand you’re kicking yourself for not stopping, turning around, and walking down a different street. But the part of you that doubts your value and your self-worth wins again. You give in to what you now realize is a bad habit and to no one’s surprise, you fall right back in again.
But the hole looks different this time. You remember that the last time you fell into the hole that it wasn’t as deep as you remembered and it was a bit easier to get out of than in the past. “Is this the same hole?” you wonder. And then it hits you…this hole is really horrible. This time your eyes are open, you see the situation for what it really is, not what you always “convince” yourself it is. You finally are seeing the truth–that falling into the hole is your fault. It’s always been your fault. The only thing drawing you to this hole is you.
As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. Proverbs 26:11. That is a graphic picture of you eating your own vomit over and over again.
Realizing the horribleness is changing you. This time you’re not engaging anything or anyone in the hole. Before the shame hits you again you’re already out of that hole. Just like that. You made a good decision before you even had time to think about making a bad one. Progress.
Progress! The hole is still there but this time you win. Progress is made by brave decision upon brave decision upon brave decision. And you’ve already made some of those brave decisions. Remember that feeling.
Isn’t it amazing how self-doubt, fear, and shame can keep you stuck in the hole? Isn’t it amazing how the hole can feel like your destiny? The hole is just a hole. There’s no magic to it. The hole has no hold over you unless you grant it power. The hole isn’t alive. It doesn’t think. It has no brain. It doesn’t even know your name or care about you. Only you can cause yourself to fall in—and fall in again and again and again. How does your vomit taste?
But progress is happening. You are taking responsibility—no matter how much hard work or how painful it is. Remember that pain is your beginning. Realizing the horribleness is changing you. You are changing. Worthiness has always been your birthright. Now you are getting a glimpse of that.
“There’s one thing that people do not realize about excuses. They are usually true. But my response to that is, So what? Yes, your excuse is real. Now, given that, what are you going to do about it?”
― Henry Cloud, It’s Not My Fault: The No-Excuse Plan for Overcoming Life’s Obstacles
You can do this. Whatever this is. You are already seeing progress. Continue on. Continue on with the hard work. Continue on with the brave decisions.
I believe this about you too. I doubt you are afraid of the effort of trying. You are honestly afraid of trying and having it not work again. I get it. This is exhausting—physically, spiritually, and especially emotionally. But what if your hope is not in any particular option? Your hope is actually in the belief that if you keep looking for options, one will work. That is Plan B. This is why hope is a function of struggle. Even if you are exhausted. Even if you find yourself in that hole again. There is still hope. There is still hope for you.
So get out of that hole! This time. Again. Progress is happening. And your loved ones are cheering you on. Be brave.
(Photo credit: https://pastorgreene.wordpress.com/2015/12/30/autobiography-in-five-short-chapters/)