Last time, I talked about my introductory crash course in the art of dancing and how I might have taken any excuse I could fabricate to escape such an uncomfortable experience. Before we dive too deep into the topic, though, let’s establish definitions…
Think about the last time you went to the doctor’s office — I actually went to my orthodontist today — and they printed a work excuse for you to give to your supervisor to prove that you actually went to the doctor for your health and hadn’t simply skipped work to sleep in or some other sign of lax work ethic. What if the converse were true? What if you were the one who avoided doing what you knew you were supposed to do?
Everyone, like it or not, has a reason to do whatever it is they do be that reason within their intent or without. Maybe you didn’t show up at work because you thought sleeping in was more important. Maybe you didn’t study for your final exam because you really wanted to rank up in Halo 4 (guilty as charged.)
The odd thing about reason is simply that reasons aren’t required to hold together for them to be real. That’s how we’re going to define “excuse:” a system of reasoning that doesn’t stay in one piece when tried by fire. People get drunk, get high, commit adultery, bully, steal, brawl, among other things, and they all have some reason for doing so, even if that reason would not hold its own as a defensible excuse in court. For example, if you were a supervisor in a company and one of your subordinates came to work intoxicated, how receptive would you be to anything he had to say, especially about his continued work for your establishment? Obviously, someone who is intoxicated isn’t the best at making decisions. The odds of accidents skyrocket. Depending upon what kind of drunk he is, he might be irate, slanderous, violent, or he might just be dead weight for the other workers to carry.
Now, he could have several different reasons for being drunk. In centuries past, alcohol was used by surgeons needing to subdue their patients. Then, of course, some people simply want to drown out their thoughts because they don’t want to deal with them because it hurts, sometimes horrifically. Others just think it’s fun. One time, I unintentionally had too much to drink because I didn’t know the alcohol content. When I started to feel it, I was a little bit confused, but I couldn’t react because I was subdued by the substance. After my system purged it (thank God for my liver), I felt… um… well, frankly, a little odd. I didn’t enjoy not having full control of my body… Anyway, others, like myself, just like the taste of a good glass of wine or a mixed drink, very occasionally. (Issue with the Christian morality of alcohol consumption? Feel free to email or tweet at me, and we can talk about our different views of that.)
Regardless of why this person arrived at work plastered — also, why was he driving? — he wasn’t conditioned to work, plainly and simply. It doesn’t necessarily matter why, but for the purposed of remaining employed, his decision was, at best, not thought through. (I wonder why that might have been. Hmm.) What I’m saying is that he put in jeopardy something that by his very involvement implied that it matter to him. Something had to be more important to him than respecting his job. Of course, sometimes things come up, and you have to deal with them, at which time, hopefully your supervisor will be understanding, but by deliberately infringing upon the interests of the company, you decrease your chances of staying.
It’s just an example, but I say all that to say this: he let his professional muscles atrophy. I dare say that because as a person continues in behavior that jeopardizes his career, that behavior becomes a habit, a lifestyle. It isn’t only true for the workplace. It’s true for relationships, appointments, and every gram of reality to which we’re exposed. Intentionally or not, we give those people reason to ask questions, and if we let that go for too long, that might even prompt them to question our loyalty and maybe even let us go.
When we let our social, spiritual, mental, physical, or any other muscles atrophy, in order to stand, we start to need crutches. Did you know that sadness, grief, anger, are all crutches? These things help us to stand when we don’t understand. These things can be beneficial to ourselves and others, but it is only for a short time. We work it out. God helps us, and our friends help us. We all get through it together, but what happens when we’re not together? Getting through things becomes more difficult.
It’s okay to be sad or angry. It’s okay to not understand things. It’s okay to hurt, but is it okay to give in? And what happens when we give in? What happens when our feelings begin to surpass their statuses as adjectives and become our identity?
NEXT — PART 2: THE LOSS OF FEELING