Plank Hunting – Shoot Down Your Excuses And WW Linkup

Remove SinsWhen I was about 11 years old, my mother did not ask me to help with getting the table set or cleaning up after a meal. I remember feeling guilty whenever I saw my older sister helping my mom with those tasks. Finally, my mom woke up to the fact that I was indeed old enough—a little too old—not to be included and I found myself by her side thereafter. Much to my dismay!

Even though I originally resisted this (mostly because it was a change that involved work and discomfort), once I began to help my mom, I came to enjoy it. Not only that but I began to feel a sense of importance, inclusion and maturity that would have been lost if I’d remained a “couch potato.” Oh, and that sense of “guilt”? Well, it was kicked to the curb! Hasta la vista, baby!

In the same way, going on a “Plank Hunt” may stir all sorts of excuses in your heart and mind:

  • It will be too painful.
  • It will disrupt my already stressed marriage or life.
  • It will remind me that I’m doing all the work while my spouse “coasts.”
  • It will give my spouse more ammo to criticize or even withdraw from me.
  • It will require more time than I have to give.
  • It will be like opening Pandora’s box and I’ll become overwhelmed by it all.
  • It will yada, yada, lame excuse, yada, yada!

I’m not minimizing the pain here, friends. I’m simply saying that these excuses may have grains of truth in them, but more than not, they contain bountiful layers of lies you’ve embraced and that need to be “shot down!”

Letting the Lord examine my heart and point out the “planks” has never been easy. But …

[Tweet “Plank Hunting has been one of the most important keys to improving my life and marriage. “]

The only advantages you and I gain by hanging on to our “planks” are a temporary high, and/or a false sense of comfort or control in the moment.

“Some” of the disadvantages destructive effects are:

  • Creates an ever-increasing and insatiable longing for more.
  • Can result in my life feeling “controlled” by my character flaw.
  • Creates a greater sense of guilt and shame.
  • Limits the blessings God brings into my life.
  • Damages and/or weakens my self-control.
  • Damages and/or weakens my over-all character or integrity.
  • Damages and weakens my faith in God.
  • Creates a barrier in my relationship with God, my spouse, and everyone else!

[Tweet “You tell me which is less painful—hanging on to your “plank” or letting God remove it?”]

I have developed a Character Flaws Inventory for us to prayerfully take and use as a beginning point in this “Plank Hunt.” I have used it myself and with the help of Scripture (using Galatians 5:16-26), I’ll be guiding us through dealing with several of the character flaws mentioned on the test in the weeks to come.

BTW, one of my main character flaws is an “unforgiving/critical spirit.” Rather ironic, I’d say since that’s what I often “teach” about here. Of course, that’s probably why I teach on it so much—I’m teaching and training myself to be more forgiving and compassionate! 😉

If you are brave enough, I’d love to hear what is one character flaw you have in the comments below. That will help me in selecting which character flaws to address in this upcoming series beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 23rd—after my book review and giveaway of Sheila Gregoire’s latest book, 9 Thoughts that Can Change Your Marriage on the 16th.

FYI – I will be out of town next week at a Marriage Ministry Training Conference in Dallas, Texas, but I’m excited to have my good friend, Nannette Elkins guest posting and hosting Wedded Wednesday (the 9th) in my place. I hope you’ll come out and support her in my absence!

[Tweet “Christian bloggers, come and join us at Wedded Wednesday Linkup!”]

What is a character flaw you want to work on in your life or marriage?

 

What have you gained in your life and marriage after going on a “plank hunt”?

 


Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Wifey Wednesday, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, and Wholehearted Wednesday.

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Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to visit every blog that links up here, but I do try to visit the blogs of those who comment here. Most importantly, know that you all matter and provide great resources for this linkup!

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  • I definitely will share in this one with you 🙁 a critical and unforgiving spirit has been my unfortunate badge that I have worn for years. God help me. I am seriously joining you in this plank hunt Beth. May God show me all of the ugly and help me to repent and do a 180! ♥

    • I’m so glad I’m not the only one in that character flaw category, Nannette. It’s not something I’m surprised by in myself, but it’s also not something I want to see. But I am determined to change it. I think I’m better than I ever used to be, but I have SO FAR to go. It’s a good thing God is patient with me! Thanks so much, girlfriend, for your support and kind words. I look forward to highlighting you and your blog next week!

  • Ugh, those darn planks! How are you, my friend? I’m coming up for air after a crazy summer. Big hugs to you!

    • I don’t know if you remember or not but it was my reply to your comment way back when that spawned this darn series! ha! I am so glad to see you back around the blogosphere today, Becky. I’ve missed you but understand that “coming up for air” may not last long–especially when a book is being prepped! Congrats on all the craziness, Becky! I’m super excited for you! 🙂

  • I want to print the sheet you are sharing and think and pray about this. My brain is totally dead. I don’t have just one plank, Beth, I have a bunch! I think planks are blinding! Thanks for the linkup, my sweet friend. So nice to see my other friends in the comments too <3

    • I hope it’s helpful to you, Judith. I feel like it really makes those character flaws stand out and increases my desire to take them more seriously. And I’m with you, I certainly have more than one plank. I’ll probably be sharing which other ones I’m guilty of as I go along in the series. Thanks for coming by and encouraging me, my friend!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I don’t have any character flaws. It’s my job to accentuate them in others.

    Seriously, I have a few. Worst is probably a high degree of ruthlessness – like Tacitus’ centurion, famously referenced by C.S. Lewis, “all the more relentless because he had endured it himself”.

    When I try to dial down expectations I apply to other people, I become arrogantly condescending. I wonder if this is common, that such a deep and unpleasant flaw will have more than one facet?

    I’ve always been a survivor, and now the chips are really down. Barbara complained that I spoke harshly earlier this evening, and my answer – I am NOT proud of it- was, “It’s been a harsh day.”

    This is a great post, Beth. I hope a lot of people will take up the challenge. I will try.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2015/09/peanut-blogbattle.html

    • Aren’t you funny, Andrew! I feel like that’s my job too sometimes, which makes me guilty of pride. And no, I’m not trying to be sarcastic or point my finger back at you with that comment. I truly do struggle with pride and I’ll be sharing about that at some point in the series.

      Yep, been there on that harsh tone with my mate as well, and I’ve had much less of a reason for it than you did, my friend. I’m sure she knows that the pain gets to you and comes out in the form of harshness. It never really takes the sting away, but it certainly makes it understandable. Thanks for always taking the time to encourage here, my friend!

  • Mary

    Your character flaw inventory is very thorough. As I was reading through it briefly, I was struck by several areas-one is a fear that God is not always going to protect my loved ones (not sure if that was the exact wording and I think as you get older you reflect on those things more) and comparison but for me it would be in the writing world. There is too much out there that makes it easy to feel less than when it comes to writing because of social media. There are more flaws that fit me but those were the two that really popped out. YOU have given us all a lot to think about.

    • Yes, Mary, that is one of the categories–“fear and worry.” I think as moms, we often feel like that’s a good practice or that we aren’t being caring if we don’t worry about our kids. Then one day it turns from being good-intentioned to a noose around our necks! I also struggle with the comparison one, which is “envy/discontented.” I think both of those categories reflect lack of faith in God. We question that He really loves us as much as the next person. But if we truly understood God’s character, there would be no doubt that He is able to love us all the same–no matter who we are or how dark our sins. “Amazing grace” is what that is! Thanks for your kindness to me, my friend! I hope that you and I find freedom from some of these sins that trip us up!

  • Mary Flaherty

    Oh, I have so much to share about this post! First, I laughed at how you wanted to help set the table–I was the youngest of three and when I saw my sibs cleaning up after dinner, I felt left out-so I was finally awarded the job of loading the dishwasher. I quickly realized I hated helping out! Too late.

    I was reading about removing the plank, when I thought of how I’d had something in my foot for at least a week, maybe more like two. It was in the arch, so depending on what shoes I wore, I either didn’t feel it, or I really felt it. It was so small, just a bump really, but I thought, “There must be a splinter in there.” So I picked and picked at it with tweezers, until it looked and felt red and raw. I thought, “Maybe it’s a cyst, or a pimple. I don’t know.” I tried to ignore it, thinking it would go away. But if I hit it at just the right (or wrong) spot, I felt shooting pain. Finally, a few days ago, I got the tweezers out again. There was something white sticking out-skin? I didn’t know. But I started pulling at it with the tweezers and my fingers, until it started to wear away (it was dead skin)–despite the pain. Suddenly I saw this small hole and something dark, the size of a pinhead. I kept working at it, and next thing I knew, this tiny, tiny sliver of wood came out. It was, indeed a splinter. I cleaned up the wound and rejoiced. No pain now.

    My point? Sometimes the plank looks like a sliver. It’s not always easy to remove that plank because it has become embedded into our skin. If we hit it just the right (or wrong) way, it sends a signal to our brain-PAIN! AVOID PAIN! DON’T WALK ON IT! Sometimes we need to really work at eliminating that sliver-plank DESPITE the pain. But once it’s removed, boy does it feel good and you feel such a sense of accomplishment!

    On a more practical note—my plank? My ONE character flaw? Oh, Beth, you’re too nice to limit it to one. I have so many planks, I could build a boardwalk. But if I had to choose one, my favorite? Manipulation. Let’s leave it at that.

    • I was the youngest of three sibs too, Mary. However, my siblings were much older than I was, so I think my mom forgot to train me how to be responsible like she did for them. Thankfully it dawned on her at that crucial point! 😉

      I don’t know if you remember my posts last January or so where I shared about a shard of glass that had gotten embedded in my hand after a Christmas Tree debacle or not. I thought I had pulled all of the glass out a couple of times, only to be bothered by that prickly feeling in my hand. And to top it off, the glass had gotten lodged deeply into my hand. It’s a miracle that I didn’t cut a tendon or do nerve damage. It finally took a hand plastic surgeon to fish the final shard out. Now I have scar tissue that has migrated beneath where the wound was into two big lumps in the palm of hand. I do hope they smooth out at some point. But it doesn’t hurt at all now. So I know I’m “glass-free.” It’s amazing how good that can feel, right?

      And yes, I think our sins are very much like those planks that get embedded in our skin. They impact us in all sorts of ways, so we must work on removing them before more damage is done!

      As far as your character flaw, on the inventory I’d say that would come under “entitlement/selfish.” Not that you’d really want to know that! 😉 But then, let’s get those planks out, so we can heal, girlfriend! Are you with me?! I hope so!

  • Gee, it’s hard looking in our own mirror, isn’t it. So much easier to point out everyone else’s stuff, yes?

    Oh this one hit home, baby …

    • Linda, that’s another good way to “look at it!” ha! But we truly do need to focus on our own flaws before we ever think of talking to someone about theirs! That means we will be busy for a very LONG time! Thanks for coming by, my friend!

  • I love the way you called it plank hunting. Another good thing is that plank hunting keeps us too busy to speck shame. Thanks for this great reminder!

    • Yes, that’s a good point. We have so much work to do when we go “Plank Hunting,” Deb. It should keep us quite occupied for some time to come! Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation, my friend!

  • Andrea

    Fear/Worry and Unforgiving/Critical. Those get me everytime 🙁 Thanks for helping me focus on those vs my husband’s faults.

    • You and me, both, Andrea. On the flip-side of that, I think that means we are analytical and detail oriented! Not that I’m minimizing the damage our critical spirits can cause, but I think it does start with the way we’re wired to a degree. Thanks for your positive spin on this and being brave enough to comment too, my friend!

  • Melanie Redd

    What a challenging and powerful post today! I came over on Works for Me to find your site.

    I appreciate your honesty! For my planks – I think I don’t always listen well, and I can be very impatient with my family.

    And, I’m so grateful for God’s grace, aren’t you!

    Hope you have a blessed day~
    Melanie

    • Thanks, Melanie. I appreciate your encouragement. And I can echo your problem with “patience” since I struggle with it as well. Just ask my hubby! ha! And yes, ma’am, I am! God’s grace is the only thing that can get us out of these sinful strongholds we let develop in our lives.

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  • Beth, I saved the handout and found it very convicting! Thanks.

    • I’m so glad, Debbie. I take that as high praise after visiting your site and seeing the wisdom you have in action. Glad to meet you today!

  • Erica

    Well, I am not sure what I was expecting when I took the inventory, but I was not expecting pride to be my highest scoring flaw. #24 really hit me the hardest though, I truthfully don’t know.

  • That list is GREAT! While I was going through it, there were somethings I still struggle with…BUT, there were also things that I used to struggle with that God has healed and redeemed! So, I think this list would be great to hold on to and go over once in a while – to see the areas we still need to work on as well as the areas God has healed – a great way to combat the worrier in me! So, that was one area I still struggle with – worry/fear. With some pride and envy mixed in there. Pinpointing those areas will be so helpful for us to continue praying about and looking to God in expectation.
    BTW – I sent you a couple of replies to your emails – I was without my main computer since Sunday night;)

  • Going on a plank hunt has been very beneficial to me, my relationship with God, my husband/marriage and my relationship with others.
    I used to always seek “perfection” but now I have learnt to relax and enjoy life and the people in my life whom God has blessed me with.
    Thanks for sharing this Beth, you cannot imagine what this truths you share have wrought in lives and marriages.
    Do have a super blessed week!

  • Dear Beth

    Good quiz! I like the way you’ve given two ways of looking at the inventory.

    I scored full marks for “Idolatry/Addictions” and only dropped one mark for “Lust (Sexually)”. Meanwhile I was almost unscathed under “Unforgiving” and “Envy”. That feels quite accurate.

    Two other interesting things emerged from the way you’ve set this out:

    1. I scored quite highly under “Deception” and “Selfish” and I think a lot of that is to do with “supporting” the main sin. So the Idolatry/Lust has repercussions elsewhere.

    2. Across your categories, I scored highly on quite a few “Is God really on my side?” issues (e.g., #5, #11, #26, #36, #39). That is quite accurate too. I don’t think it’s because I am especially proud or selfish, though. I don’t think of God as especially “loving”. Jesus yes; the Holy Spirit yes; the Father — not so much. I’ll certainly be working on how I conceive and relate to the different members of the Trinity.

    David

  • Deanna Burris

    Beth, I am not surprised by what the Character Flaw Inventory revealed. My highest scoring flaws are Unforgiving/Critical and Pride. Sadly, I think these two go hand in hand. I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to share about Plank Hunting. I found you through Love, Honor and Vacuum and so grateful that God led me here.

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