“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
According to some folks, I’m wrong.
That’s fine with me. I can live with that burden. It causes me a bit of embarrassment at times when I think I’m right and decide to put a voice to my thoughts. Often when I do, I’m immediately told I’m wrong. I used to be a little sensitive to this and retreat in shame for a few days . . . afraid to show my face. One time I immediately wrote an apologetic explanation for my misunderstood views in some vain attempt to justify my thinking . . . I realise I don’t need to do that any more.
What I am realising more and more, as I attempt to dialogue with those who are ‘right,’ is that my entire way of seeing things is different. No use arguing. They are simply right.
While their worldview is obviosuly the correct one (yes, Ken Silva, you have me there!), mine is full of errors. While their perspective is from such a high vista, mine is obscured by trees, buildings, and possibly a few dumpsters. While their understanding of the way things are is so clear, I evidently am walking in a fog and losing my way. It therefore is their God-given responsibility to show me where I stray (and I thank them for that because I am unable on my own to arrive at any sort of correct conclusion).
Besides, they have God on their side. That’s always a bonus, especially for those people with really bad comb-overs and 70’s-style oversized spectacles. It’s also handy when when dealing with people like me whose views are so far removed from the Divine. It’s a shame, really, because my incorrect understanding informs me that God is love and that a characteristic of those who follow God’s way is that they are loving, inclusive, peaceful and hopeful people. But then I am wrong on so many other things, I probably don’t know anything about this either.
What’s even better is that they are so well qualified to pass judgement. They know their Bibles so well and are very good at ‘chapter-and-verse’ stuff. (Not like I, who often fumble around say something stupid like, ‘I think God says somewhere that . . .” or mistakenly quote a verse from the wrong version–or worse, from The Message–and I don’t think that’ll cut it when moving in more well-versed circles.)
Personally, I kinda like being wrong. It means that I can live in a state of blissful ignorance. I can truly love someone whose is different from me because I don’t have a list of criteria he or she must meet. I know beyond any doubt that God loves everyone and has no regard for our perceptions of status: right or wrong, male or female, black or white, Baptist or Hindu, straight or gay . . . I believe I can know that all my sins are forgiven, even those ones I don’t call ‘sin’ but are so plainly and rightly pointed out to me to be such. I can be happy because I know I am not a slave to guilt; I don’t need to submit to manipulative guilt trips or holy-sounding ‘Thus saith the Lords’ because I know what God has spoken to me in my heart and through wise people I have been privileged to have encountered along the way.
What’s more, while I am already clearly wrong, I can accept others’ truth at face value. I can see spirituality in some of the words of Buddha, Mohammad, Desmond Tutu or even Jerry Falwell! While I may not agree with their truth, I can appreciate their understanding and insight on some level, even if it is acknowledgement of a universal truth that we all have in common. (As I was informed by a wise and intelligent professor in my College days, ‘All truth is God’s truth.’) And I wish their followers well because they, like me, are on a journey–it’s just they are not at the same stage or on the same path as I am.
Ah! The joy of allowing myself to be wrong. Funny how the awareness of my being wrong and having this label inflicted on me doesn’t seem so important any more. Possibly because I know that God still loves me without any conditions or reservations, and that label–like so many others–doesn’t really have any sticking power on me (Thanks, Max Lucado, for your brilliant parable You Are Special.)
So I’m wrong. No further discussion needed. I would suggest this admission would bring some folks some happiness or relief, but then I’d probably be wrong there too.
(P.S. Not everything in this post is written in sarcasm. I really do appreciate the truth so cleverly and clearly presented through Max Lucado’s beautiful storytelling, and I truly know that God’s love for me and everyone else in this world is real. Much of the rest is open for debate.)