I like to be right. No, scratch that. I love to be right. I mean, I know, who really likes to ever be wrong? But I really like being right, an unusual amount. I will fight to the death when I know I am right. If I’m not 100% certain I am correct, or if I don’t care that much about what I am right about, I’ll pretend to go along with the incorrect opinion but in my heart of hearts, I never yield.
It’s not just that I like it when I am right, I just like everything to be right. I like things to look right, to taste right, to feel right. Rightness is important to me. In case you haven’t put it together yet, this manifests itself in an unhealthy commitment to perfectionism but that’s for another day.
Here’s what I’m leaning about being right, though: Being “right” doesn’t actually change reality. I have this vivid memory from when I was in the 4th grade. It was a Saturday and my class and our families had gathered at our school for a class picnic. We were playing a pick up game of kickball but the field we were playing on didn’t have bases. It was an old baseball field so it had hooks buried in the ground where you could attach real bases but it didn’t have any markings on the ground that we could designate as a base. So we spent an absurd amount of time looking for the hooks buried in the grass so that we could properly run the bases. Except here’s the thing, everyone else that was looking was looking in the wrong area for second base. For some reason they were all looking way too close to where the pitching mound was. Everyone knows that a baseball field is a diamond so it would make sense for second base to be behind the pitching mound but farther away than where first and third base were located. They searched and searched for the second base hook but could never find it and, despite me hollering loudly that they were looking in the wrong spot, they finally gave up and put second base in the “wrong” spot. This drove me bonkers! I mean, really crazy. My dad was there and he had been helping me look in the correct spot, but to no avail. When we realized that the rest of our kick ballers had given up and had randomly assigned second base, he started to walk back to where our team was. I ran behind him, trying to convince him to keep looking with me in the “right” spot but he said, “I know that we’re right, Reagan, but they just want to play now. Being right isn’t worth delaying the game for everyone else.”
To be honest, I think about this story a lot. It STILL bugs me that we never found the correct second base, especially when I know that it was out there! But my dad was right. My friends just wanted to play a game and have a good time. They didn’t need second base to be exactly right to have a fun time. And they didn’t want to waste all that potentially fun time looking for the “right” base.
There are a few situations in my life right now where I KNOW that I am right. Morality is on my side. Good sense is on my side. Practicality is on my side. There aren’t grey issues where either side could technically be right. I am just plain right. But that doesn’t change the opinion of who is on the other side. My rightness isn’t going to change their reality or their decisions. They don’t care where second base really is. They have settled on where second base can be to get the game started and they just want me to get off the field so they can play. And as much as I want to fight the good fight and go down with the ship of being right, that amount of conviction and passion that would take would destroy my relationship with them.
In church recently we heard the Parable of the Prodigal Son. And the teacher chose to spend a good deal of time talking about the indignation of the elder brother in the story. The older brother was “right”. The Prodigal was a hot mess of selfishness, laziness and self-indulgence. He deserved nothing. He certainly didn’t deserve a big party and immediate forgiveness. The older brother’s assessment of what was happening was completely correct. But his rightness didn’t change anything. It didn’t change his father’s love for his Prodigal brother. It didn’t stop the party. And it certainly didn’t help him understand the bigger picture of grace that was happening around him. All the older brother’s rightness did was make him angry. He was angry with the Prodigal. He was angry with his father. He was angry, maybe even with himself. He was just angry.
Sometimes being right is a good thing. Sometimes it’s a great thing! And I would hope that “right” wins more than wrong in life. But simply fighting for right for the sake of being right should never trump being loving. Or being graceful. Or forgiving. Fighting for rightness just because its “right” doesn’t bring us any closer to the person of Jesus we are called to be. And it certainly doesn’t lead to the fullness of Life that He desires for us. It just leads to wandering around an old empty baseball field, alone.