60-Days-of-Second: Follow along as 15 bloggers journey through 4 readings each from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Together they will blog through 60-Days-of-Second. Register to follow at www.iamsecond.com/blog. Get the “Live Second” book in stores December 9.
Day 16 by Matt Sanner
“We cannot erase our wrongs or wipe out their effects on others. We must simply trust and hope in God for forgiveness.” Live Second, 19.
I don’t remember what the argument was about. All I know is that the debate came to a complete stop when my wife said those three little words I love to hear: “You are right.”
I love being right.
I have a PhD in Self-Righteousness. I’m very, very good at justifying my own behavior, my own decisions, and my own priorities. That’s because I’m pretty much always right…at least that’s what I tell myself in the deepest part of my mind. After all, why would I ever knowingly make a decision that was wrong?
You know what I hate? I hate being wrong.
But occasionally it happens. In fact it happened once as recently as a few months ago.
Alright, alright. It happens daily. Actually I’m lucky to take a few consecutive breaths without having an improper thought or reaction: a quick glance (“hello Lady in Red”), a snarky reaction to someone (“it’s the thin pedal on the right, idiot!”), a condemnation of someone (“I’m so glad I make better choices than that person”), or saying something stupid (“it’s not the jeans, it’s your…”).
“Wrong” is pretty much my state of being.
So how can it be that, when confronted with my wrongness, I try so hard to excuse my behavior?
King David wasn’t confronted with some harmless little mishap. He had committed adultery, then had the woman’s husband killed in battle. When the prophet Nathan called him out, David could have had him executed on the spot. How dare you tell your king that he is wrong?!
But David simply said, “You are right. I am wrong. I have sinned.”
He broke. He repented. He ran back to God, throwing himself on His mercy.
He gave up his right to be right.
Choosing to surrender ourselves to God is tough. I heard an analogy about surrendering our wills, comparing it to floating on your back in the water. In one sense you have to relax and let the water hold you up. In another sense, you have to actively throw your body back into that floating position and resist the urge to kick and squirm. It’s a bizarre kind of active-passivity.
We have to actively choose to yield. As for me, I have to do that many times per day, all day long. I have to give up my right to be right, forget protecting my reputation, and my record of right-ness, and admit how flawed and broken I am.
When my wife tells me I’m being too hard on my son, or my brother tells me that my sarcasm is making it difficult to be honest with me, or my daughter tells me to put down my smartphone and pay attention to her, I’m at a crossroads. I can go on red alert and put the shields up, carefully explaining all the “reasons” for my actions, or I can simply bow my head and tell them those three words: “You are right.”
On the up-side, when I do this there is a huge sense of relief. I don’t have to pretend any more. Maintaining my image of perfection is exhausting, and nobody but me was buying it anyway!
I can be accused of many things…and my accusers are probably right. I can spend energy trying to prove them wrong. Or I can relax, because God already knows the truth about me. And He loves me anyway.
Lord, help me to be slow to defend, and quick to acknowledge when I am wrong. Help me to shrug off my sense of my own goodness, to readily and humbly admit my sin, and to turn to You for forgiveness. And help me later this morning, when I need to do it again. And again, and again.
Check out Matt Sanner’s regular blog at www.MattSalad.com. Head and heart, tossed together and served up fresh. @themattsanner
Next for the 60-Days-of-Second: Day 17- “Saved Failure” by Zach Emerson