The other day, I had a very revealing parenting moment: I had to teach my son to say "I don't know."
Whenever I ask him anything—anything—he has an answer. If he doesn't have an answer, he makes one up. Usually nonsensical sounds that go together to make what he thinks is a word. An answer. (He's a toddler, after all.) So I had to spell it out for him and say, "When you don't know the answer to something. It's OK to say 'I don't know.' Can you say, 'I don't know?'" It was weird, but necessary.
Hmm. From whence does he get this strange trait? Let us examine this through an anecdote:
[insert yet-to-be-written "Rachel's Anecdote" song here]
My son happens to be an Elvis fan. Yes, this is my fault. I'm not, like, hang-out-on-the-lawn-of-Graceland crazy. But that may be because I don't live in Memphis. He's got an Elvis poster in his room, we listen to Elvis at home and in the car. He's even got a little Elvis RV from the movie Cars. The kid's crazy for the King.
Anyhoo, we (my husband, my son, and I) were listening to his Elvis mix in the car, and the song "King Creole" came on in the car. My husband asked him who sang that song, and he said "King Creole sing it." No, Elvis sings it. The song is about a guy called King Creole. "No, King Creole sing it." This argument went back and forth (literally—from the back seat to the front seat) for the remainder of the song. Then "Rock-A-Hula Baby" came on. I asked him who sang that one, and his answer was "Rock-a-hoo sing that one." No, Elvis sings it. I started to argue with him, but then I gave up and started singing along.
Then the kid made a sorry mistake.
He said, "Mama, let Elvis sing it!"
After the initial sting of my kid not wanting me to sing, I realized what he'd said. "A-HA!" I exclaimed. "Elvis does sing this song!" He laughed and said, "Noooooo, Mama! Rock-a-hoo! Rock-a-hoo!" Then I razzed him (unnecessarily, since he is a toddler) about how he just admitted Elvis sang it and mama was right all along. He continued to argue with me half-heartedly—laughing harder as he did so and only further admitting his error!—until we got home.
Let's take a look at my awesome parenting skills, shall we?
Angle 1: I argued with a two-year-old over who sings the songs "King Creole" and "Rock-a-Hula Baby," not willing to give in and let him go on with wrong information. I can't send my kid out into the world misinformed, can I?
Verdict: Good mom!
Angle 2: I argued with a two-year-old over who sings the songs "King Creole" and "Rock-a-Hula Baby" because I was right and he was wrong. And he clearly needed to admit that Mama was right.
Verdict: Eh. Not-as-good mom.
Hmm. I now see where my son gets it.
I'm always right. Even when I'm wrong, I'm still right. Somehow. I'll go down fighting, regardless. I rarely say, "I don't know." I always have an answer in some form or another.
This poses a problem when it comes to admitting things to God. Now, the situation is slightly different—for the most part, I know when I've done something wrong—but I have a really hard time making the words.
Some of you may be thinking, "Well, you don't need to say the words. God knows your heart! He knows you know what you did was wrong!"
That's not how repentance works, yo. I've got to actually admit my yuck to God. Bring it before him. Lay it out. Apologize. Ask him for the strength to do better next time. He does know my heart, but that's what makes it all the more important to just go ahead and admit I was wrong. He can see my screw-up. I can see my screw-up. It's the elephant in the room.
And you know how those elephants make everyone feel. Like when you and your friend have super awkward conversations because both of you know there's something you need to talk about and neither one of you wants to bring it up first? Well, it's like that with God, too. It interferes with your relationship with him. Makes it hard to pray when that stuff is clogging up the airways. Clogging up your heart.
Get rid of the gunk. Give it all to God. He's got enough grace for whatever you did. And you know what? You'll probably do something else down the line. He'll have enough grace for that, too. He doesn't really run out of the stuff. You just have to ask for it.
Do you have a problem admitting you're wrong?
P.S. - Despite teaching my son the phrase "I don't know," he has yet to use it.