She continued to say “I can’t.”
I continued to encourage her, “Yes, you can!”
She gave one excuse after another why, in her mind, she would not (and could not) be successful. I countered every one of her excuses with evidence of her successes. I reinforced her abilities. I reminded her of the Bible study lesson on faith we’d had the previous day. I rerouted her path of pessimism toward a more positive perspective. Finally…she turned a tiny, yet much corrected corner.
Why do we sometimes get stuck on the negative? Why do we sometimes camp out in an “I can’t” state of mind? Why do we occasionally insist to ourselves and others around us that we simply cannot accomplish the task set before us?
I know people whose immediate response every time there’s a suggestion made on how to improve something is “Well that won’t work because…” It’s like this is an auto-response. Like their default is “I can’t.” This drives me crazy. I wonder…are they really listening to my input? And if they are, then I wonder…do they really want to improve? It’s a weird question, I realize. But sometimes I question whether or not people truly want to get better, want to succeed, want to improve, etc.
I believe there are two things happening here. I think people want to succeed, but they want to do it on their terms, with their thoughts, and their ideas. There’s a weird narcissistic thing going on I think. They want to be able to take the credit for their own success story, yet reserve the right to blame other people if they end up failing. But I think the other thing happening here is this: some people don’t really want to improve, succeed, or get better because the sub-par state they’re in gets attention or at least it gets a little mileage. I know it’s strange, but I think it’s true.
At some point, however, we must let go of the “I can’t.” We’ve got to get over ourselves, move past our weaknesses, get our focus off of the obstacle of self, and onto something (or more specifically someONE) greater.
Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus are so right on. “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Ephesians 3:20, MSG).
We might be stuck in the “I can’t” camp, but we mustn’t get stuck in the “God can’t” camp either. According to the Bible, God can do anything. And not only that, but God can accomplish far more than we can ever ask or even think. That’s huge.
Maybe we should stop getting mileage out of our “I can’t” and start tracking the mileage of “God can!”