“Why can’t you admit you were wrong?”
Maybe because I wasn’t.
Just because someone else thinks I was wrong doesn’t mean I was wrong. They see it one way, I saw it another. I made decisions at the time; they have the advantage of hindsight.
I may do what I believe right and yet another person believe it to be the wrong way to do things. I can be sorry they were hurt. I can wish things turned out differently. But does that mean I was wrong in the first place?
Do I have something to apologize for because someone else who has not walked in my shoes thinks I am wrong?
Am I willing to honestly and fearlessly examine my motives and actions? Do I regularly take inventory? Yes!
Anytime some criticizes me: I carefully consider my motivation and my actions. I am willing to admit error when I am wrong. I am willing to make amends and ask forgiveness.
As one friend wrote,
How many times have we said, ‘If I knew then what I know now, I’d do things differently. I would make a different choice. I did the best I could with what I had or knew.’ Maybe time shows us there was a better choice, but it doesn’t change the fact that our hearts were focused on the right things then and that we did the best we could at the time. Time often proves we are fallible (of course!), but it doesn’t prove our motives were wrong. So admitting in hindsight that a decision was wrong proves we are just human. If our motives were good, it’s growth to acknowledge a mistake, atone, forgive (ourselves and others) and move forward. Could be a healing, loving thing for all…and isn’t that a higher order than allowing others to hurt by not acknowledging we would do things differently? I mean, if we knew then our decision would have hurt someone,wouldn’t we have chosen differently? Nothing wrong with acknowledging that in the name of healing someone’s pain…Being wrong simply is a challenge to grow…not a way of defining us as bad people.
I am absolutely willing to admit wrong and apologize when appropriate. I am willing to make amends. I am willing to humble myself for the sake of relationship. It can never be simply about me being right. It can never be about my pride.
I am aware, however, that sometimes, even when I am right – had right motives, sought wise counsel, prayed, followed advise of trained professionals – things can still turn out badly. I cannot control the actions of others. I cannot control what others may say, the story they may tell, their version of events. I can do the right thing and it still not turn out well.
And sometimes it is not my actions that were wrong, but that the circumstances simply stink. And I can wish they had been different.
Perhaps, I did the best I could at the time with the knowledge and skills and advice I had available. Perhaps that is not something that requires an admission of wrong doing but does require sympathy and grace. Perhaps that does require me to say, “I am sorry you were hurt by my actions. Please forgive me.”
In a recent situation, my husband and I were in complete agreement. We had sought wise counsel, we prayed, and we did what we think best. We have discussed it in hindsight these past few days. We would do the same thing again. We still believe it was the right choice. But some peripherally involved are angry and hurting. Some directly involved are angry and hurting. I pray they will understand some day. I pray they will heal and forgive.
For now they think I am wrong.
But does it require me to say, “I was wrong?”
Maybe not. Maybe I wasn’t.