Years ago in a book called Happiness is a Choice, I discovered the distinction between ‘can’ts’ and ‘won’ts’. Because I write from a Christian point of view, this brief summary of the distinction is designed to help anyone but particularly Christians, those who claim to possess the Spirit of God.
Can’t and won’t. Christians need to be very careful which one they choose. It seems that we prefer to use can’t.
“I just can’t get along with my wife.”
“My husband and I can’t communicate.”
“I can’t discipline the kids like I should.”
“I just can’t give up the affair I’m having.”
“I can’t stop overeating.”
“I can’t find the time to pray.”
“I can’t quit gossiping.”
No, any Christian who takes the Scriptures seriously will have to confess the word really should be won’t. Why? Because we have been given the power, the ability to overcome. Literally!
One of the best books you can read on overcoming depression is a splendid work by two psychiatrists, Frank Minirth and Paul Meier. The volume is appropriately entitled Happiness is a Choice, “As psychiatrists we cringe whenever [Christian] patients use the word can’t…Any good psychiatrist knows that ‘I can’t’ and ‘I’ve tried’ are merely excuses. We use language that expresses the reality of the situation. So we have our patients change their can’t words to won’ts…if an individual changes all his can’ts to won’ts, he stops avoiding the truth, quits deceiving himself, and starts living in reality.”
“I just won’t get along with my wife.”
“My husband and I won’t communicate.”
“I won’t discipline the kids like I should.”
“I just won’t give up the affair I’m having.”
“I won’t stop overeating.”
“I won’t find the time to pray.”
“I won’t quit gossiping.”
Those without Christ have every right and reason to use can’t, because they really can’t! They are victims, trapped and bound like slaves in a fierce and endless struggle. Without Christ and His power, they lack what it takes to change permanently. They don’t because they can’t! It’s a fact…a valid excuse.
But people like us? Hey, let’s face it, we don’t because we won’t…we disobey because we want to, not because we have to…because we choose to, not because we’re forced to. The sooner we are willing to own up realistically to our responsibility and stop playing the blame game at pity parities for ourselves, the more we’ll learn and change and the less we’ll burn.