Just a Thought: There Is A Hole In The Sidewalk


Have you ever found yourself in a situation you don’t want to be in?  You look up and ask yourself the question, “How did I get here?” or “What am I doing here?”  You wish you could push “Stop” and then “Rewind” and then go back to an earlier time?

Do you ever pray “Lord, if you get me out of this I will never make this same mistake again?”  I am sure it has happened to all of us.  And it is probable it will happen again in the days ahead.

There is a short book that illustrates this principal.  It is only five short chapters long, but it truly illustrates how we often make poor decisions and then make the same stupid decisions again.  The book is entitled There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk! and is by Portia Nelson.  You might remember her as an actress in “The Sound of Music” or “Dr. Doolittle.”  The book is referred to as “An Autobiography in Five Short Chapters.”  Here is the book in its entirety:

Chapter One - I walk down the street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I fall in.  I am lost...I am helpless.  It isn’t my fault.  It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two - I walk down the street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I pretend I don’t see it.  I fall in again.  I can’t believe I am in the same place, but it isn’t my fault.  It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three - I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I see that it is there.  I still fall in...it’s become a habit.  My eyes are open.  I know where I am.  It is my fault.  I get out immediately.                Chapter Four - I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I walk around it.

Chapter Five - I walk down another street.

Let me break apart her chapters as we have all been there.  In the first two chapters she has ended up in the same hole each time.  She is claiming both times that it is not her fault.  In the first chapter she is surprised the first time she encounters the hole.  In the second chapter she falls in the hole because she pretends it is not there.  In both instances it takes a long time to get out.

She has made the same mistake twice!  At this point the writer is still not holding herself accountable for her actions.  Why did she not learn from her first experience?  Clearly the second falling in the hole could have been avoided had she learned from her mistake the first time.

If the book ended after the second chapter, the writer would not be holding herself accountable for her actions.  Maybe the first time she fell in it could be a complete accident, but to fall in a second time and to say it was not her fault, she was living in a world of denial.

The writer takes the first step to conquering her problem in Chapter Three by admitting that it is her fault that she is in the hole.  For the first time she acknowledges while she is in the hole that she has fallen into the hole because of her actions.  She writes that her eyes are wide open, yet it has become a habit.  Because she has moved away from denial and is admitting she has a problem, there is hope for her to correct it.

Also in Chapter Three the writer adds a new twist by getting out of the hole immediately.  She knows she doesn’t belong in the hole and she has recognized that the hole is not a place she wants to be for very long.  She understands in this middle chapter that she is both responsible for falling in the hole and that she has the power to get out of the hole immediately.  She is becoming accountable for all of her actions.

Yet in Chapter Four the author, knowing the same hole is ahead, continues to put herself in the zone of danger by walking down the same street.  She understands that she has a choice and that if she makes the right choice of walking around the hole, she can save herself the agony of having to crawl out of it. 

Finally, in Chapter Five, the shortest of all five chapters, the writer understands that she can move forward in her life without coming anywhere near the dreaded hole by simply choosing to walk down a different street.

We can ask the question, “Why did it take five chapters for the writer to learn how to keep completely away from the hole?”  Or we could praise the writer by saying she learned by the fifth chapter how to avoid her repeatedly making wrong decisions.  Many people’s books would contain a sixth, a tenth, or a twentieth chapter without ever getting the point of walking down a different street.

Some people set out to fall in the hole.  Some people don’t set out to fall in the hole, but they choose to walk to the hole and, by moving too close, they routinely fall in.  In this second instance, it is not their intent to fall in, but it occurs as a direct result of their entering the zone of danger.

What street you walk down is your choice.  Each day you have many different streets available to walk down.  Many of the streets have holes.  Many streets don’t have any holes.  Whether or not you encounter a hole is dependent upon what street you choose.

What are the deep holes of your life?  Do you repeatedly walk right into them?  Why?

My challenge to you today is identify the holes of failure in your life.  Once you identify these holes you can identify the streets that lead to them.  Choose carefully what streets you walk down.  If you keep off the streets with holes in them, you can avoid the holes all together.  There are countless streets without holes waiting to be walked.

When you find yourself looking up from within a hole, take responsibility for your actions.  Recognize that it is no one else’s fault but your own that you are having to repeatedly crawl out of a hole.  Recognizing you are in control of and accountable for your own life is the first step to conquering the holes in your life.

Just a thought...


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