“Don’t be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that holds us together.” – Brian G. Dyson
A Hot, Humid Argument
It had been a long hot day in the beginning of June. One of those days where the humidity was so high, you could seemingly cut if with a knife. Regardless of the weather conditions, it was a planned family work day around the house. Before we got started with our work, a list of chores was divided among the family members.
I can remember vividly my daughter Grace’s reaction to being the responsibility of cleaning the chicken coop. She was not happy. There was a moan of disgust accompanied by the frustrated gestures of a tween. Immediately I reminded her that we all had jobs, some of which we like doing and others we did not. After an hour had passed, I noticed Grace in the back corner of the property doing nothing. After prompting her in getting back to work, Grace made another attempt in showing her disgust.
Needless to say, I had it! Without hesitation, I found myself yelling at my daughter. You know the type of yelling which involves all the emotion of the moment and all that has been going wrong all day. I blew it! With tears in her eyes, she simply ran away.
Over the past few months I’ve been reading Adele Calhoun’s Invitations from God: Accepting God’s Offer to Rest, Weep, Forgive, Wait, Remember and More. Recently I’ve been struck by a particular chapter focused on the idea admitting when we are wrong with others. Calhoun encourages us to see these moments as an invitation from God. More specifically, God uses these moments of confession as a way to shape our interior development and our external relationships.
In that hazy, hot afternoon of house chores, I was wrong to blow up at my daughter. Admitting that I was wrong and making things right would be an opportunity to grow as a father and follow of Jesus. It could ultimately strengthen my relationship with Grace.
How to Admit that You’re Wrong
The following are three insights which emerged during my reading:
1. Accept the moment as an invitation.
No one likes to admit when they’re wrong, because admitting you’re wrong requires an individual to accept that their knowing is incomplete, that they’re weaker and more fragile than they’d like to think of themselves. It’s only when we accept our incompleteness that we can become more open to hearing from God and others. Without this acceptance, we resist, posture, and grow stubborn. But this invitation often comes from those you least expect.
2. Take the first step.
When a disagreement takes place, there are always two sides to the issue. More than likely, all of us can remember a time where we made a bad decision, said something hurtful, spoke about another in negative or self-serving way, or simply just plain blew it. In that moment, we have the potential to go in two directions. In one direction, we stand our ground, isolate ourselves, and not admit fault. More often than not we end up building a wall between you and the others around you. The disagreement lingers and festers as we grow increasingly entrenched in our position as the “right one”, “victim”, etc.
The other direction, however, simply takes the first step by admitting you’re wrong, maybe even saying, “I was an idiot, please forgive me!” In this moment you take ownership of your part. Your part might have been smaller, your part might have been a reaction to theirs, it doesn’t matter. When you take the first step, you create space for healing – both your own and the one wronged.
3. Open yourself to restoration.
Opening yourself to restoration can often be stunted by key mistruths. These falsehoods skew our perspective on the situation, validate our wrong positions, and encourage us to stay entrenched. Here are a few key mistruths sometimes we fall into:
- Tying of our identity to being right.
- The need to be the expert in every conversation.
- The assumption that your training or studies have placed you above critique.
It is in each of these cases that we place more value on our own false identity than on the value of the one in our midst. Opening ourselves up, by admitting we’re wrong, allows restoration to happen in our ourselves, as well as, in the relationship which has been mended.
After I took a few minutes to process what had just happened, I dropped my tools and began to hunt for Grace. After a few minutes I found her sitting in her room quietly. As I entered, I didn’t make excuses, I simply said, “I was wrong, will you forgive?”
This key moment created space for grace and I to have a deeper relationship.
About the writer: Rick Rhoads
Rick is the Director of the Student Ministry Majors at Lancaster Bible College. He has served as an Assistant Professor in Student Ministry at LBC for the past 7 years. Over the past 18 years, he has served in various Student Ministry roles at Lebanon Valley YFC, LCBC, Calvary Bible Church, and Riverbend Community Church. Rick, his wife Naomi, and their two children Grace and Eli live East Petersburg, PA.