I like to be right. I don’t know if I like it more than most people do; but I really, really like it. (I try not to say ‘I told you so’ but I confess that I sometimes think it.)
This photo shows an example of me not being right. Yesterday, motivated by the allure of a closing-down sale, I went out to buy my son a school blazer for secondary school next year. I knew his current school uniform size and took an ‘educated’ guess. (Cue buzzer noise here.) Wrong. Way, way off.
We’ve had a good laugh about it, though. And it’s made me glad that he’s not quite that big yet. Sometimes it can be a gift to be wrong.
I’ve been thinking about the story that Jesus told about a father and his two sons. One son asks for his inheritance early and goes crazy with it and ends up completely destitute. The older son, the responsible one, stays at home, does his job, doesn’t cause a fuss but is eaten up inside, we sense, from judging his brother and the sense that he is right.
Where does ‘being right’ get him? Maybe he knew all along how things were going to turn out, maybe he could have predicted the hurt and potential embarrassment that were going to be caused. But did it make him any happier?
To the father in this story, being in the right or in the wrong doesn’t seem to matter. Perhaps he too had a sense all along that it wasn’t going to end well for the younger son, but giving him freedom is more important. The dad doesn’t care that he looks like a fool, when his son eventually comes back home, running to meet him, lavishly celebrating the child that has brought shame on the family; love more important than the rules.
The saving grace of the younger son is that he finally, finally was able to admit his mistakes and accept his dad’s forgiveness. If the older brother had been motivated to be a ‘good boy’ out of love instead of duty, he would have understood the overflowing, forgiving love of his father. But he doesn’t get it. He’ll cut off his nose to spite his face just so he can be right.
I like being right but maybe I need to celebrate being wrong more often, especially if it can open the door for forgiveness.
You can find the original story here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15:10-32&version=MSG