Maureen Pratt

Maureen Pratt

Recently, I tried to interview two people and they declined because, each one told me (separately, on different days), “I’m too old.”

Oh, dear.

In an era when time seems like a rare and precious commodity, I can understand that there are occasions when we don’t have a minute in which to add an unexpected item to our to-do list. But it seems as if I’m hearing more excuses that people use to refuse to do, or say, something, or even to contemplate a new activity or relationship.

“I’m too tired to go to Mass this weekend.”

“I don’t want to meet more people; I have too many personal commitments as it is.”

“I’m too busy to eat right and exercise; I’ll do better when I’m not so pressed for time.”

“I don’t want people to get mad at me if I say (fill in the blank).”

Yes, there seem to be a lot more excuses floating around, and it makes me wonder if, by immediately saying no, we might deny ourselves and others an opportunity to enhance our lives and contribute to our world in a meaningful way.

Take the “I’m too tired” excuse, for example. A hectic week at work can indeed sap our energy and make staying in sound like the perfect antidote. But filling our spirit with God’s word, praising him in song and prayer, and being with our church community can rejuvenate us in a way that a weekend with the television remote cannot.

Sometimes we are overwhelmed with personal commitments, especially during the holidays or when we’re in periods of time when our friends and family are celebrating milestones — marriages, childbirth, graduations or retirement. But if we look upon the people in our lives as the gems that they are, meeting new jewels seems like more of a blessing than a burden.

We’ve all used one excuse or another to avoid eating healthfully or exercising. But we also know that the more we put off doing what’s good for us, the less benefit we’ll get from the healthful things we manage to fit in our lives.

Sometimes entering a contentious fray is not appropriate. Also, there are probably many issues about which we do not feel equipped to argue (but we could certainly acquire the knowledge we need to do so). More than once, I’ve learned that how we express our beliefs can make all the difference.

Before we turn to excuses to avoid saying what we think, we can pause, pray and try to discern a persuasive, positive manner in which to share our perspective. You can ask God to be there and invite the Holy Spirit to take over.

And using “too old” as an excuse?

I know men and women who are still dynamic, joy-filled and loving in their 70s, 80s and 90s. I hope to be half as vibrant as they are! What could stop me? Excuses.