“Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made” (Psalm 7:15). Stubbornness is one of our failings. We dress it up and call it stick-to-itiveness. We dig in as individuals and groups and rely on fallacies to explain why we don’t stop self-defeating behavior. That’s the stink smoldering out of the ashes of history. It is difficult to let go of story lines that put us deep in holes. The nagging voices in our heads and the chorus of those in the hole with us reinforce the narrative we have been operating with. We might even decorate our hole with artifacts commemorating the time-honored way we “dig.” Our creed is, “This is who we are. This is how we do it. This hole is our brand.” Endeavors fail because operators at the helm just can’t see their way clear to reverse course. But eventually it becomes self-evident. “Hey, we are in a hole here. We need to stop digging.”
The first rule of holes is stop digging. That takes an unfamiliar kind of determination. But it initiates renewal, including the one we need way down deep in our souls. When we recognize we’re in over our heads, we’re ready to drop the shovel and wash our hands of it. It’s very straightforward. We don’t need to redesign the shovel. We don’t need to develop better digging techniques. We need God’s power and grace to stop doing things that are not working.