Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's the Principle

When I was in grade 5 I remember playing British Bulldogs with the whole class at school. One of the girls was clearly out, knew she was out but didn't want to be out, tears followed. I came down on the side rules are rules and we had to stick by them, my reasoning being that what point were rules if all you had to do was shed a few tears to get around them. The other girls in the class wanted to let her keep playing - I stuck to my guns and ended up sitting by myself for the rest of lunch in order to stick by my principles. My dire predictions of lunchtime anarchy never came to pass because although this girl had been "let off" it didn't set a precedent and I can't remember anyone ever trying this again.

Fast forward a couple of weeks ago "Sally" told me a story of how she went to the post office to get some paper. The paper was advertised for $5.95 but when she got to the counter the lady said it was $6.95 in the system. Sally argued (the rule is that they should sell it for the advertised price) and insisted the lady go and get the manager. The lady comes back and says no, it says $6.95 in the system and that's what she has to pay. They both dig their heels in and Sally ends up leaving without the paper but that's not where the story ends. She needs the paper but there is nowhere else in those shops to get the paper so she walks back home, puts the baby and pram in the car, drives to the next shops and pays $8.95 for paper there. Sally admits it was crazy but it was all about "the principle".

These are funny and trivial stories but this idea of I'm in the right can have disastrous effects on relationships. As I've grown I've realised that usually it's better to keep a relationship than be right or even for the other person to admit they were wrong. "Sally" has often said "How can you forgive the hurt when they don't even acknowledge they've done anything wrong?" but for me the alternative is worse. To hold that hurt close and live with a broken relationship that will not just impact me but all the people around me - it's not what God has called me to. I can't change other people but I have a choice in what I do and I choose reconciliation.

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