In my last post, I looked at two myths that prevent us from properly starting over. Today, we’ll look at the final three.
The third myth is the Experience myth
This myth says: Experience makes me wiser, therefore I’m sure I will do better the next time.
That’s a pretty big assumption. I’ve heard a lot of people brag about having attended the school of hard knocks. They act like the bumps and bruises of life have taught them all they need to know. But the school of hard knocks doesn’t guarantee an education. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll be any smarter. The only thing it guarantees is the opportunity to learn from what worked and what didn’t work in the past.
We all know people that believe the experience myth. They never seem to connect the dots between their behavior and their failure. Their experiences did nothing for them but develop a habit that they cluelessly perpetuate.
This is the person that thinks the first few times they failed was just bad luck. Isn’t that what they say? Oh, it was just bad luck, but then they add this: but the third time is the charm.
No, it wasn’t bad luck. It was more likely bad choices, and the third time won’t be the charm, it will just be a repeat of the first and second failures if they don’t learn what they did wrong and do something about it.
Now, I realize most of us are probably thinking of some friend or family member right now. You think they really need to hear this. You are going to send them this post. But can I suggest that I might be talking about you? Just sayin’.
The fourth myth is the Exception myth
It says, I’m unique. I’m the exception. I don’t have to follow the directions like other people.
This person will tell their kids or friends how to follow the rules, but interestingly enough, they don’t practice what they preach. They think they are a little bit smarter than the rest of us so the rules don’t apply to them.
You know if you believe this myth simply by listening to what you tell your friends. You’ll say something like this; “I know I shouldn’t do this but…”
I know I shouldn’t eat this brownie because I’m on a diet, but I’ll just exercise more tomorrow.
I know I shouldn’t buy this because I’m in debt already, but it’s on sale. God wants be to save money!
I know I shouldn’t date her but she makes me happy.
I know I shouldn’t do this but I’m the exception to the rules. I can do this without it affecting me.
I’m bullet proof.
No you’re not. Time will prove that.
People who believe the Exception Myth are masters at denial. They have an exceptional ability to rationalize, justify, and minimize their dysfunctional behavior. But the truth is: you can’t start your life over and have it both ways. There are no shortcuts.
The final myth is the Time Myth
The time myth says: The clock is ticking. I’m running out of time. I’ve got to get back in the game. I mean, all my friends are getting ahead of me. I’m getting older. I’ve got an opportunity sitting right here in front of me and if I’d don’t snatch it up right now I may never get another chance. In other words, the Time Myth says: You need to start over TODAY, even if you aren’t ready to start over.
People who get divorced often think this way. Rather than deal with the root causes of their divorce, they just want to start dating again.
People who have an affair often think this way. They want to quick patch things up with their spouse and get back to normal without looking at what led to the affair in the first place.
People who have some kind of an addiction often think this way. They think if they get some counseling or read a book they are good to go and no one should worry about them.
The reality is: most of us think this way because starting over too soon keeps us from taking responsibility for the past and facing the reality of our weaknesses.
The mistake we make is believing that time is our enemy. But time isn’t the enemy. Time is our friend. God wants us to take all the time we need to get to the bottom of our failure, so when we finally do start over, we succeed.
There’s an older movie called 28 Days, with Sandra Bullock. It’s about people in recovery from alcohol addiction. There was a guy in recovery who wanted to start a new relationship and his sponsor said, “In the first year, buy a plant. And the end of the first year, buy a pet. If at the end of the second year they are both still alive, that would be when I would recommend starting a relationship.”
That’s great advice and it applies in all kinds of situations. If you’ve had some kind of major setback, you aren’t in a good mental state to make big life decisions. You need to let the air clear before you start again. If you feel like you HAVE TO do something NOW, your sense of urgency will cloud and distort every decision you make.
For example: if you just HAVE to be in a relationship, there’s a good chance you will end up in a relationship with the wrong person because the right person won’t be attracted to you. The only people who will be attracted to an unhealthy person is either another unhealthy person or someone who wants to take advantage of you. So, you think you are starting over. But in reality you just set yourself back a few years.
I mentioned that the Bible is full of stories about people who failed miserably. Once example is Moses. Moses grew up in the upper class of Egypt. He was groomed for political office. But one day he saw an Egyptian abusing a Hebrew slave and he killed the Egyptian.
Moses ran into the desert to hide and when he was there, he met a woman and married her. Then he ended up tending sheep for her father, Jethro. The Bible tells us that Moses lived in the desert for 40 years.
I’m sure Moses was tempted to get back in the game. He wasn’t trained as a shepherd. He probably thought it was beneath him. But his situation forced him to wait. If he went back he’d be thrown in jail or put to death. So God had him right where he wanted him, right where he could work in his heart.
Some of us are probably in a place like that. You are all frustrated because you want to get back in the game but, have you ever thought that God might want you out of the game right now? You know, coaches pull players out of the game for a reason: to rest, to recover from an injury, or to show them what they are doing wrong. The coach isn’t as concerned about you getting playing time as much as he is concerned about making you productive when you are in the game.
God does the same thing. He doesn’t mind pulling you out of the game. He’s more concerned about you being productive when you are in the game. I’m sure Moses felt like life was passing him by, that his destiny had been thwarted by the murder. But look what happened…
During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help, because of their slavery, went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. -Exodus 2: 23-25
The phrase, “During that long period…” is key here because it’s pointing to the time element. God used Moses time in exile to prepare him for his ultimate purpose: to rescue God’s people from slavery. Who’da thought, right? God’s timing was perfect. I bet Moses told God how he needed to get back to Egypt. He probably thought God had forgotten about him. But God was waiting, waiting for the Pharoah to die and Moses to mature as a leader.
God does the same thing in your life: he waits for key factors to fall into place before he releases you to move on. God knew what he was doing. Moses didn’t have to rush to get back to Egypt. In fact, when it was time for Moses to get back in the game, God came and got him:
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire; it did not burn. -Exodus 3
And that’s when God spoke to Moses in the burning bush and called him to save his people. If Moses would have tried to fast forward the process, he would have messed everything up. He probably would have been killed or thrown in jail and God would have needed to call someone else. But what probably seemed like an eternity to Moses was God’s perfect timing.
God’s timing in your life is perfect too
You see, God uses time to shape us into the person he wants us to be BEFORE we start over. And so, if you are in a time of starting over, I want to invite you to press PAUSE on your life for the next few weeks and come back and read my blog posts. Let’s see if I can give you some helpful tips to begin starting over. Because you want to make sure that the next time is better than the last time.
This post is part of a series I did a few months back. If you would like to listen to this message in podcast form, you can listen to it here!