"Then Eli said, ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your petition which you asked of Him.'"
I Samuel 1: 17, Amplified Bible
"Big Enough to Admit You Were Wrong"
"It is the person who most knows (herself) liable to fall that will be most ready to overlook any offences from others."
How do I treat those who have made mistakes and fallen?
Do I forgive readily or do I keep a tally of another's faults?
"Mistakes are a fact of life, it is the response to error that counts."
"There is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake."
C. S. Lewis
If there was a profoundly valuable lesson my dad taught me, it is that there is nothing wrong with admitting you are wrong or that you have made a mistake.
I learned this fact from my father when I was young and in my teens and he and I were having a difficult time getting along. At times my father's determination to get things done his way bordered on arbitrary behavior and at this particular time in my life, the disagreements the two of us had escalated into such an explosion I stopped speaking to him.
Quite honestly, it was difficult living in the same house with someone you didn't want to talk to. However, one day, I heard a tap on my bedroom door.
"Can I come in for a minute," my dad inquired. And then in a sincerely kind manner he asked for my forgiveness. "I was wrong," he acknowledged.
I was shocked that my dad would admit to making a mistake. Lest you think his admission that he wasn't perfect diminished his standing in my eyes one bit, you'd be completely wrong. Instead, at that moment, my admiration for my father grew magnificently. I realized our relationship meant so much to him, he would do anything possible to heal any division which might come between the two of us.
For some strange reason, there's the mistaken notion floating around today that it is a sign of weakness to ever admit you are wrong. What a bunch of baloney! We all make mistakes and the idea that any of us are so perfect and have attained such a high plateau that we never do anything wrong is totally absurd. In fact, I agree with the words penned by Edward John Phelps, "The (woman) who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything." The fact is that some of the greatest inventions and breakthroughs in science and technology were borne out of somebody's mistakes. Not only can mistakes be the catalyst for a breakthrough, they can also be the foundation for our future successes.
To sink our feet into the mud of our own opinions and to allow ourselves to believe we know it all and that we know it all correctly, may in fact lead us down a pathway to ruin. As one noted scholar observed, "(She) that never changed any of (her) opinions, never corrected any of (her) mistakes; and (she), who was never wise enough, to find out any mistakes in (herself) will not be charitable enough, to excuse what (she) reckons mistakes in others."
And this statement is the cornerstone of our lesson regarding the interaction between Eli and Hannah. Eli sized up a situation, jumped to conclusions and then made a harsh and cruel accusation before even getting any of the facts. Hannah could have responded in kind, but instead, her patient words brought out the best in Eli who then blessed Hannah's life and promised her God's outpouring. The fact was, Eli wasn't too big to admit he was wrong and I have to tell you, I love that about Eli. He may have had problems with his own sons, however somewhere along the way, maybe even from Hannah, Eli learned that saying, "I was wrong," doesn't bring us down, it lifts us up.
Years after my father's sudden death, I happened to be serving on a committee with one of my dad's best friends. It was a strong-willed group of people who were chosen to make a personnel selection for an organization. We absolutely couldn't agree on a choice and finally the committee chair said that he would not accept anything less than a unanimous vote. Well, I did not like that tactic at all. After an hour of holding out I finally said, "Fine, you want me to vote your way, I will, but I won't support this decision once I leave this room!" With those hostile words I picked up my car keys and purse and left the meeting in a huff! Let me say this was not a decision with moral consequences. It was a decision based on personal preference. My behavior was reflective of my stubbornness, nothing more or less.
Several weeks later, I began to reflect on my actions and I called my dad's friend who was also on the committee and whose eager willingness to go along with the other committee members had really infuriated me. I asked him if I could come to his house for a visit.
"Bill," I said, "I began to think about my behavior and I made a mistake. I shouldn't have been so opinionated and head-strong." He got a smile on his face and looked at me and said, "You're just like your daddy! He was never too big to admit he had made a mistake!" At that moment, I couldn't have felt better or prouder for I had learned from the best - my dad --- that you're never too big to say, "I was wrong. Please forgive me. I'm sorry!"
"A (woman) should never be ashamed to own (she) has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that (she) is wiser today than (she) was yesterday."
"O thou gracious and gentle and condescending God, thou God of peace, Father of mercy, God of all comfort; see, I lament before thee the evil of my heart; I acknowledge that I am too much disposed to anger, jealousy, and revenge, to ambition and pride, which often give rise to discord and bitter feelings between me and others. Too often have I thus offended and grieved both thee, O long-suffering Father, and my fellow-men. Oh forgive me this sin, and suffer me to partake of the blessing which thou hast promised to the peacemakers, who shall be called the children of God."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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