I can’t think of a better visual for being wrong than this photo of my feet shoved into fuzzy socks and flip flops, which is how I picked up my son from school this afternoon. I’m not really sure what happens every day between productively working and that moment when I realize I have to leave to take or pick up a kid. I black out a little and end up in the carpool line in all manner of ridiculousness. Today, my feet hit a new low, and I’m willing to mom-up and admit that I was wrong. On behalf of my feet, my fuzzy socks, and my poor, maligned Nike flops, I’m sorry.
If only being wrong was always that easy.
This is an actual conversation that actually went down in my actual house a couple of weeks ago:
Elliott: (singing enthusiastically) Satan Satan Satan OHH!
Me: Um, are you singing about Satan?
Me: As the bad guy? Cuz he’s the bad guy?
Elliott: No, sometimes I say Satan instead of Jesus. I mix those guys up.
Me: Let’s don’t mix those guys up. Satan is evil. Jesus is our Lord and Savior.
Elliott: It’s from that Bieber song. Satan Satan Satan OHH!
Me: That’s baby baby baby oh.
Elliott: (blank stare) No, it’s Satan Satan Satan oh.
So, everyone should probably pray for us. To Jesus, just in case there’s any confusion.
My son seems to love God, except when he’s led astray by Justin Bieber to worship Satan while eating his after school snack at our kitchen table. This case of misunderstood lyrics is up there with Manfred Mann’s “blinded by the light/wrapped up like a douche” (revved up like a deuce) and CCR’s “there’s a bathroom on the right” (there’s a bad moon on the rise).
Hey, we’re all wrong sometimes.
At my sister-in-law’s rehearsal dinner last week, lovely people gave incredibly insightful and touching toasts. Unlike her brother and myself, whose toast may or may not have involved a medley, props, jazz hands, and the words “take off your top.”
In lieu of my own heartfelt toast, I have permission to borrow from someone else’s, our wise, wise friend, Julie, who talked about the power of being wrong.
Learn how to be wrong. This is incredible advice for every relationship, whether it’s a marriage, a friendship, an employer, or in parenting. We’re all wrong from time to time, some of us more than others, and it’s how we handle the being wrong that matters.
First, you have to recognize when you’re wrong. For me, this usually happens halfway through the sentence that I’m belligerently spewing with every confidently locked bone in my body. Oh snap. I’m wrong. What do I do? That thing they said that I interrupted with the force of my brilliant opinion just registered in my brain and they’re right oh frick oh frick oh frick.
At that point you have some options.
Go for broke. They don’t know that you know that they’re right. Just keep digging your own grave until you burrow through the earth’s core, pop out on the other side of the world, and catch the red eye home.
Stop and get humble. Oh! Whoops, you’re right, I’m wrong, my bad, thanks for that, I needed to hear that, I didn’t know. If you’ve already started digging, take a deep breath, say you’re sorry, and ask them to forgive you. This one’s hard, but leads to deeper relationships. The more you humble yourself and admit you’re wrong, the easier it is to do it. And it keeps people from walking on eggshells around you, being afraid of you, writing you off as a moron, or getting mad.
Everyone is wrong some of the time. And humility is a little bit sexy. A lot sexy. When you’re willing to admit you don’t have a total grasp on everything there is to know in the universe, you allow space for others to come into your world and exist around you in harmony.
There’s freedom in learning to be wrong. You give the people around you permission to be right. You become approachable. If I think about the people I admire most, they’re the humble ones, the truly teachable people who are not afraid to admit when they’re wrong or don’t know something.
I’m learning to be wrong in my marriage, and that is no easy deal for me. I’m hardwired to want to tell my husband how it is. I’m also learning to be wrong in my parenting, and to humble myself before my kids. I hope they learn that if mommy can do it, so can they.
We’re all wrong sometimes. There’s power in being wrong.
But try telling that to a six-year-old Bieber fan.
What do you do when you recognize that you’re wrong?