“I began to notice how seldom we ‘make place for the other’ in social interaction. . . . Western society is highly opinionated.”
– Karen Armstrong
Is there a connection between knowing you’re always right and being hard-hearted?
And its converse: between understanding you could be wrong and being compassionate?
I’m trying to figure it out. To see if it’s even true.
Because sometimes, from where I sit anyway, it seems to be true: that those who are most sure of their position are often the harshest ones. And those who accept their potential to be wrong are the ones more likely to give grace to others.
But I could be wrong. . . .
Jesus was certainly all-right AND all-love.
But are we humans kinder when we acknowledge that Jesus knows it all, but we don’t?
1. Appreciate the unknowable
Armstrong suggests participating daily in an experience that touches you deeply beyond words. For me, that’s usually worship. The more I see God all around me, the more amazed I am at his greatness and my smallness. The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know. It humbles me.
2. Become sensitive to overconfidence
You probably know someone in your life who knows everything. (And if not, listen to talk radio.) Do we try too hard to win arguments? Are we too reluctant to admit, “I don’t know”? Would we be wise to occasionally play devil’s advocate against our own views to uncover blind spots?
3. Notice the mystery of each person
Be mindful of the beautiful mystery of each person in your day. Think about what you specifically love about your partner or close friend. Ask yourself what makes you different from everyone else. Notice when you’re trying to change someone else, or when someone may be trying to change you, and how that makes you feel.
As God would have it, it’s no coincidence I’m also deep this month in Kathryn Schulz’s book, Being Wrong (it’s messing with me, I tell you). Even as we seek Truth, the allure of certainty will try to pull us the opposite direction of Love.
“Just as our love of being right is best understood as a fear of being wrong, our attraction to certainty is best understood as an aversion to uncertainty.”
– Kathryn Schulz
How little we know.
May we make peace with it so God can teach us more.
And may it open up space in us for more love, more grace, and more compassion.
* * *
Has being wrong ever taught you to be more compassionate? Who in your life is a compassionate person? I want to hear.
- 12 [different] spiritual disciplines
- On the blog – June 2014