Sometimes it’s wrong to be right

In my opinion you can absolutely be right and yet completely in the wrong. Being right is not all it’s cracked up to be and is not the most important thing in many situations. In fact, I’d suggest that often times when we’re in pursuit of being right we often end up on the wrong side of that to which we originally were in search of. In other words I think that often times it’s wrong to be right.

There are moments when our compulsion to be right leads us down a dirty path. A path where we can be









If I am right and you are wrong then what is most important is that I help you find the path to rightness.

If I am right and you are wrong then what is most important is that you understand why you’re wrong so that you can be rescued from your wrongness.

If I am right and you are wrong then me helping you understand the error of your ways is the right thing to do.

If I am right and you are wrong then the most loving thing I can do is fight for what is right.

If I am right and you are wrong then I have the freedom, nay, the responsibility to speak into your life even if that word is unsolicited.

If I am right and you are wrong then my job is to speak not to listen.

If I am right and you are wrong then…

Oh, there are so many “if’s” that we could list! When we believe that we are right we so often believe that this gives us additional freedoms. But it does not. Being right (which is quite subjective in the first place) does not in any way give us a platform to speak into another’s life. It just doesn’t. We think that it does, we feel like it should, we genuinely (with good intentions I think) want to help. But being right does not equal doing right.

You can be right and still be a jerk.

You can be right and still be unkind.

You can be right and still be undignified.

You can be right and still be completely lacking in grace.

You can be right and still be completely miserable.

You can be right…

I don’t believe it’s wrong to be in pursuit of being right. But I do think that sometimes (honestly…often times) I could care less if you’re right. For one, you’re never right as often as you think (you do know that right?). Secondly, I personally value people more than I value being right and I often find that those two values clash. Thirdly…I didn’t actually have a third point here…but if I were to have a third point I think I might say that when our goal is the pursuit of rightness (a goal that I do not think is inherently wrong) I think we run the risk of missing out living rightly along the way. We work so hard to BE right that we forget to do right by others. The worst part is that, speaking personally here, many of the things that I knew were absolutely right ten years ago I find to be absolutely laughable today! What I used to bank on as right I now understand completely differently!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that we never suffer from doing good and we can never over-love. So…what if we spent our energies

Listening to people instead of telling them how we’re right

Extending dignity to people rather than telling them how their wrong

Being humble in our understanding of ourselves rather than taking an arrogant approach of assuming our own rightness

Being compassionate in our interaction with others instead of fighting for our own ends

Pursuing understanding over and above proving how our own ideas are correct

One might argue that being right and being kind are not in opposition to each other–which is absolutely true…sometimes…oftentimes…occasionally…in theory…In my experience, however, what  I often observe and am tempted to live into is that when faced with the opportunity to prove myself right over and above another person (or their opinion) I will sacrifice kindness or generosity to prove myself the winner. I’ll prioritize truthiness over and above grace or gentleness. Being right usually wins out and it often costs something–and that cost? More and more I’m discovering that it’s people’s feelings, it’s potential relationships, it’s the dignity of others. Beating you down with knowledge–even good knowledge–is still a beat down. And that’s not right.



Listening to Mo

Mo and I have been friends for quite a while now (going on four years). We originally met in the now-burnt-down-then rebuilt-then reopened under a new name-and now closed again Marcell’s Cafe. She ‘baptized’ me into coffee shop life. Until I met her I was a coffee shop recluse, sitting in the back corner minding my own business and leaving everyone alone. Because of her influence I now annoy everyone in sight, make friends, and bug the heck out of store owners who want me to get my coffee and leave. (thank you Mo)

Over the past four years the two of us have awkwardly cried together in both coffee shops and living rooms. She’s been a great support for my wife and I all throughout the last eight months and continues to dream for how she can care for our family in the future. We’re as different as can be…and it hasn’t mattered a bit.

Early on in our friendship I asked Mo if she would tell some of her story for one of my Downtown Dispatches and lately it just keeps coming up in my mind. I think her voice is important and it’s worth reposting even three years later. I’m certain, as is true with much of anything I’ve said that’s dated three years, that there are tweaks and changes to how she perceives and understands her story today–but with that caveat please read her story, in her own words. I think it’ll be worth your time.

I was raised in a household where religion and faith were not emphasized. Whenever my grandfather came to visit around the holidays I would be dressed up and expected to accompany him to Catholic Mass. Sometimes my parents would come too. Usually not. My father was 3 months away from ordination as a priest when he stepped away from the church and it seems like that was a pivotal moment in his early adulthood. He won’t talk much about it though. My mother was raised Buddhist, but never spoke of it. While in high school, I fell in with a “bad element” and began attending church and youth group functions. My parents were dismayed. We settled on a compromise. I could be a “user” but not a “pusher”. Eventually I went on to attend seminary. One of the things that drew me to church was the fellowship of Christians and finding a social “home”. The idea of a church family was incredibly alluring to me.

After quite a lot of time and introspection, I have come to realize that the idea of family, community and love were what I was “in it” for. I never experienced a personal relationship with God, Jesus or Buddha. So it comes as no surprise that I am no longer practicing at faith. Unfortunately, within many families love, support and community come with the price that you observe the social contracts established. When I came to accept that I was gay, my church family reacted by casting me out.

I felt like the carrier of plague. I was treated as though contact with me might contaminate otherwise happily heterosexual church members. I was also constantly aware of how much I had disappointed everyone. I think that humans are by nature likely to revert to cliquish behavior and that within the microcosm of a Christian community you can often see the power that this instinct can have. Sometimes for good. In my case. Not so much.

Love tolerance and acceptance of people where they are in their particular walk is rarely extended to my gay brothers and sisters who are still struggling to maintain their connection to faith and a church body. I was subjected to a surprise “intervention” by my pastor and church body and when I responded honestly that I was not prepared to repress and repent for my sin of homosexuality, I was cast out from my church. With a series of benchmarks and “proofs” I had to provide if I wanted to repent at a later time and rejoin the family.

I absolutely love that Mo’s essay is short and doesn’t end with some kind of tidy and pretty conclusion. It almost needs an ellipsis to capture the hanging nature of it…and I like that…bu then again if you read my blogs you’ll know that I love ellipsises…is that how you pluralize ‘ellipses’?

I hope you find time in your life to listen to people’s stories. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with how they define themselves, it doesn’t matter if you have made similar or opposite choices…it doens’t matter. What matters is that each and every person is created by and indelibly stamped with the image of God and is deserving of dignity, of being listened to, and of being loved. Mo has definitely showed this to me as she’s listened to my ramblings for four years, I hope that in some way I’ve also listened her into free speech.