Yesterday at church, one of the things the pastor said stuck with me through the day: relationship is more important than being right. Actually, her exact words were “being right is never more important than being in relationship,” but I tend to shy away from words like always and never. Those words are relationship breakers. If your spouse says to you, “you always do . . .” or “you never . . .”, what is the first thing you think of? The ONE time out of millions that you DID do the thing they say you never do or the ONE time out of millions that you DIDN’T do the thing they say you always do.
There are times when being right is more important than a relationship. If someone wants you to do something that is absolutely wrong – it is better to break off the relationship. If your best friend tells you, “let’s beat up a homeless guy for kicks,” you need a new best friend! If someone is trying to hurt you, then it is more important for you to be right and safe than it is to be in relationship with them.
But, for the most part, relationship is more important to us than being right. Too many of us are prideful, sure of our own importance, needing to be right in order to justify our decisions. We are willing to say awful, hurtful things to others in order to defend ourselves. We are judgmental and stubborn. If someone disagrees with us or tells us we are wrong, we jump to cut them off instead of considering their point of view. Recently I’ve encountered people who think you are violating their rights if you disagree with their opinion. Yikes!
Relationships – marriage, family, friends – can be hard work. We have to keep our ears, our hearts, and our opinions open to those of others. No one is going to agree with us 100% of the time. We are not right 100% of the time, no matter how we try to excuse ourselves. Most people are doing the very best they can most of the time. Giving each other the benefit of the doubt and continuing to love each other the best we can is important. Learning to forgive when others hurt us unintentionally (and sometimes when they hurt us intentionally) is important. Letting stuff roll off our backs and developing a tough skin, but keeping a tender heart, is important. Staying in the relationship is more important than being right.
Yesterday I got to spend the day with Tom, my parents, my sister and her husband, and my son and his wife. I love each of these people dearly and I am so thankful that we love to spend time together. There have been rough places along the road with some of these people. When my sister and I were growing up we fought constantly. If I said something was red, she would say it was yellow just to disagree. And I would do the same. But we stayed in relationship, as hard as it was. Today I can appreciate my sister for the loving, creative, smart, and hard-working woman that she is. I am so blessed to have her as my sister.
As we grow up – as we mature – we learn that relationship is more important than being right. We learn to let go of some of that need to be right. We learn that unconditional love is not based on being right or wrong, but on our relationship with God. We become willing to extend that kind of love to others.