February 21, 2011
I’m sorry I was wrong. These five simple words are so difficult to say. To most people, they don’t feel the need to say it. To many it is admitting defeat, and they refuse to lose. For others, their pride gets in the way and they won’t admit it. There are a few who can say I am sorry, but not confess that they were wrong. Or like me, don’t think you are wrong all that much, so there is no need to say it that much!
Simply, I acknowledge what an arrogant statement I just made. Yes, I own up to my own conceit and am ashamed. You see, I have been humbled recently over preconceived ideas. Preconceived is defined as: to form an opinion before possessing full or adequate knowledge or experience; to form a conception or opinion beforehand, as before seeing evidence or as a result of a previously held prejudice. Ouch! I took this a step further and looked up the meaning of the word prejudice. A word I have heard all of my life and always attached to a “race” issue. Prejudice is defined as; a prejudgment, an assumption made about someone or something before having adequate knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy. Also, an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought or reason. It continues with, injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights.
Guilty on all counts! Just yesterday I found myself on a freeway off-ramp watching a homeless guy with a sign asking for money. Instantly the thought went through my head, why doesn’t he just get a job? Or seeing a rather young child riding his bike all alone on a busy street and thinking where is his mother? Looking at a neighbor’s dead lawn and wondering why they would let their yard look so trashy. All of my thoughts were preconceived ideas. They guy is lazy, the mother is clueless, and the neighbor is blind, I am shameful to admit were my thoughts.
On Facebook a friend posted a small video on her wall that literally dropped me to my knees. The video is called Get Service on YouTube. It was about a man who was grumbling about many inconveniences in his day, such as the kid riding his skateboard behind his car as he pulled out of driveway, the traffic on the way to work, someone taking his parking spot, the line at Starbucks, and most people who crossed his path that morning. He was complaining in his head how rude everyone was to him, and how selfish they were. As he mulled around the “preconceived ideas” in his head, someone walks up to him and hands him a glass case that has “Get Service” written on it. He takes out the glasses and when he puts them on, it gives him a one line statement for the people around him. One man was discontented with life. A woman was struggling with a sense of purpose. Another man had never known a true friendship. He was disturbed by all of this and quickly proceeded to leave. As he walked out the door a woman with two small children was coming in. Her one liner said, works two jobs to feed her children. Another woman in the parking lot stated, grieving loss of husband. As he drove down the road, a young man with car trouble had could use a ride. A young teenager standing on a corner had, ran away from home two days ago. As he pulled back in his driveway and the kid on the skateboard rode by, he put the glasses on to see just needs someone to care.
I want a pair of those glasses! I wish it was that easy to get rid of pre-conceived ideas by just putting on a pair of glasses. I would love to eliminate that middle man (pre-conceived ideas) and go directly to the source of the situation. EVERYONE is dealing with something. EVERYONE is hurt is some way. EVERYONE is in process. But most either will not or cannot admit it. So they hide behind a cloak of superiority for fear of letting the truth be known or seen. But all of us will deal with failure, hurt, pride, selfishness, and just plain being wrong.
I am sorry I was wrong seems so inadequate now, yet I will always recall what a pastor told me once. I had been in a situation with a parent whom I had done something she disagreed with. I was playing kickball with a class and I had asked the kids to put their shoes on the wrong feet, just to mix it up and make the game more challenging. I thought I was being creative, yet she thought I was wrong because I could have damaged their feet. That thought had never entered my mind or I would not have done it. I said to this parent that I was sorry. She kept coming after me, and I said I was sorry again. She continued to follow me as I continued to apologize.
I talked the situation over with a pastor, and he said, “Anyone can say I am sorry, and in essence just making a statement. You are not asking for forgiveness, you are just saying you are sorry to get it over with and move on. But in seeking forgiveness, state it as, “I am sorry, will you forgive me?” That is putting the ball in the other person’s court and asking to make amends.” I was saying I was sorry to that parent yet was not asking for her forgiveness.
In conclusion, I have been wrong about many things. As I look at others actions, I draw incorrect assumptions, and act according to my own feelings before having adequate knowledge. Yes, I also am in process, but I pray that this question will roll freely off my tongue from this day forward. I am sorry, I was wrong, will you forgive me?
Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor. Proverbs 21:21