Letting Go of Being Right
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” – Matthew 5: 6
It’s embarrassing for me to admit how often I want to be “right,” and how hard it can be to get off that horse.
A raging need to be “right” is, honestly, sort of childish. And yet, it persists far beyond actual childhood. I also notice that when people feel they are “right” and their cause just, they will say and do just the worst things to those who do not agree with them. Lots of this in the church, but not only there. If you are right, it is apparently okay to do wrong.
I’ve gotten trapped in wanting to be right — to prove, show, demonstrate that I am right — far too often, most of all in closest relationships with family and friends.
What’s the alternative to being right? Maybe it is being well. Not trying to control others, but practicing self-control and self-containment.
Does this mean that moral judgment, right and wrong, good and bad, aren’t important? I don’t think so. It doesn’t mean giving up moral meaning, it means giving up my ego.
The paradox is that when you can get into right versus wrong bickering in personal relationships — even if you believe you have won — you have lost. On the other hand, surrendering your need to be right, can confer a very different kind of victory. A victory over your own screaming ego. And the survival, maybe even renewal, of a relationship.
Strangely enough, in letting go of what we think we must have, at least sometimes we get what we most need. In letting go of our need to be right, we actually become right in a new and far deeper sense.
Teach me a new righteousness, Holy One, one that includes surrendering my need to be right. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.