Learning to Say “I Was Wrong”

How to be honest with our faults

If you are old enough to recall the sitcom Happy Days, you’ll remember “The Fonz.” Henry Winkler played the character of Arthur Fonzarelli, the coolest guy in town. The Fonz in his leather jacket and perfect hair could get all the ladies with the snap of his fingers. Despite his bad-boy persona, the Fonz was a warm-hearted guy who could surprise you with sage advice. But the Fonz had one fatal flaw: he could never admit that he was wrong. In those rare cases when he erred, Fonz would humorously try to say, “I was wwwrrrr . . . ” or “I’m sssoorr . . .” but couldn’t finish his statement.

Do you know anyone like that? At work, in marriage, and in friendship, they simply never own up to their mistakes. They may even be overly kind or generous for a period of time as an unspoken way of making up for faults, but the words, “I was wrong” will never cross their lips.

It never feels good to apologize or own up to our failings. Most of us can get the words, “I’m sorry” out of our mouths, but we quickly follow with an explanation of why we were justified in our actions. Or we follow an apology with making the case that the other person has evenmore to apologize for.

Admitting your faults isn’t the same as giving into them. We all know people who excuse their destructive behavior by saying, “That’s just the way I am. Deal with it!” This attitude actually discounts the harm their behavior causes and also neglects God’s call for us to pursue the perfection of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Instead, we are all called to embrace a humble spirit that seeks true reconciliation when we’ve done something wrong or hurtful.

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Juli Slattery

Juli Slattery is a TCW regular contributor and blogger. A widely known clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and broadcast media professional, she co-founded Authentic Intimacy and is the co-author of Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?

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