We Can't Stand Being Wrong
And it's killing us.
We can’t stand being wrong. And it’s killing us. When did we start idolizing the idea of being right? Our ego* loves to be right. (*By ego I mean that puffed-up part in us that we construct usually as a way to protect ourselves, albeit ineffectively. Our “false self.”)
We hide our questions, fears, insecurities, controversial opinions, etc., underneath the shell of our ego, believing that people will reject or discount us for being not completely certain—a true sign of weakness or unbelief. A honest question or expression of a fear will get you put on the prayer chain faster than the donuts run out in the lobby. And you’ll probably eliminate your chances of serving in any kind of leadership position.
Where Did I Learn This?
I certainly learned this growing up, where there seemed to be no room for questions or uncertainty, whether in church or at school. Still, inside little Mark, was this voice that kept asking those unwanted questions. I’d often raise my hand and ask, “Why exactly are we doing it this way?” Or “This doesn’t seem to make much sense!” I learned quickly that these questions will make people angry and frustrated. I haven’t changed much in this regard, and I don’t intend to.
Humility is one of those rare, awesome traits that the Bible encourages us to adopt. And when you meet someone humble, you can see it right away. A humble person says, “I might be wrong about this,” or better yet, “Boy, I sure was wrong about that!” Humility makes a person beautiful, approachable, and engenders trust.
Humility Brings Us Together, Ego Separates
I see so many people who have simply become judgmental of others for not measuring up to their system of rightness. I get that, I have been that person. I have changed much in this regard, and I intend to continue. Because honestly, I still this person in a lot of ways. But I feel its ugliness, and I regret that it’s taken me so long.
I’m reading an intense book called “What Happened To You?” and it reframes the question that is common to ask when we see someone doing ugly stuff. Instead of asking “What’s wrong with you?" I’m learning to consider that we have all been influenced by the experiences we’ve had, the things that have happened to us. It could be something as consequential as abuse as a child, but can even be based on myriad struggles of simply living during these chaos-filled days.
It’s never wrong to put on the superhero cloak of compassion with other people. I need it. You need it. We all need it.
If you’re curious how your religious beliefs are affecting your compassion levels toward other people, one simple question to ask yourself is this: Do your strongly held values cause you to separate yourself from other people who think differently than you, or do they bring you closer to them?
I pray we can become more of the latter. We desperately need to increase our love and compassion for other people, especially those who think differently than us. May our values and principles be marked less by exclusion, fear, and shame, and more by inclusion, love and hope.