When Being Right Isn't Right Enough

I like to be right about things. 

In fact, I take no small amount of pleasure in moments where I have been debating something with one of my family members (especially one of my kids) when they have to finally admit that I was right about what I was saying.  

While I am typically magnanimous in my victory, I may have also been known to perform a celebratory dance, or punctuate the moment with words like, "Boom! Roasted!" or "That's right, I'm right!"  

Being right is so very, very satisfying.  

Until it isn't.  

Because sometimes our desire to be right feels incredibly wrong for others.  Sometimes our desire to be right causes us to wound the ones we love, to do harm to our relationships, and even to blind us to the fact that what we perceive as right is actually... not right. 

And there are times when the choices we have before us don't feel right at all.  In fact, we might even know in our heart of hearts that no matter what we choose, we might actually be wrong.  

Madeline L'Engle wrote about this in a way that makes so such sense to me:  

Far too often in this confused world we are faced with choices, all of which are wrong, and the only thing we can do, in fear and trembling, is to choose the least wrong, without pretending to ourselves that it is right. 

The struggle that we have as frail human beings is to make hard choices that we know are probably wrong in so many ways but the alternatives are even more wrong, and so are beyond our consideration.  

In those moments we need to hold on to that last bit of wisdom in humility: "...without pretending to ourselves that it is right."  

Where so many of us get into trouble is when we secretly know that our choices, beliefs, ideology, theological leanings, politics, and social worldview are not 100% right, but we pretend that they are because we don't want to be wrong about them. 

I get this.  Like I said, I love being right... or at least feeling as though I am right. 

But I think if we all could hold on to our beliefs a bit more loosely, realizing that we can't possibly know everything about everything, it would give us room for growth, reconciliation, and... dare I say it... unity.  

When we stop pretending that we are completely right about our complicated  choices over our beliefs, we are able to state all of the reasons why we made them to the best of our ability, and then add this wonderful phrase to our apologetics:  

But I could be wrong. 

I should say this, though.  There are some choices that are more clearly right than others, and to which there would be a wide affirmation for making them even from people with whom you disagree.  

Still, when it comes to the "non-essential" tenets of our common life---there is a lot of grey, and not at all that much black and white.  This makes that one sentence such a powerful tool.  

We can defend our choices, to be sure, and there are times when we should.  

However, when we have the humility to say,  "But I could be wrong." we open up the possibility for dialogue and create the space for common ground.   And who knows?  Our willingness to show humility may bring those with whom we disagree to the same place. 

May you find moments today when you want to feel right, but you aren't sure enough to endanger your relationships over it.  May you have the courage to show humility in those moments and admit you don't have all the answers.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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