The Five Hardest Words to Say

As I sit in northern Wisconsin this morning, I am bombarded with weather forecasts (we do LOVE talking about the weather in Wisconsin).  I’m looking at the road conditions deciding when will be the best time to drive.  I was hoping to go up to Bayfield today to check out the ice caves, but the forecast doesn’t look good.  In Watching the Weather, I mentioned my frustration at paying too much attention to forecasts and not getting out for a run with a friend.  Am I missing out on this opportunity to experience something beautiful because of the snow that might come?

 Maybe, but that’s the challenge of discernment.

Besides the congressman from New York who threatened a reporter for doing his job, the top news seems to be the snowpocalypse mess in Atlanta.  Us hearty northerners scoff at a measly 2-3 inches of snow, but we have the experience and equipment to know how to deal with it.  I was in Atlanta a few years ago in June and it was ridiculously HOT and HUMID.  While I was sweating bullets, the lovely ladies of Atlanta looked fresh in their dresses and cute summer outfits.  It’s all relative.  (BTW, I also spent a morning at the pool with Sting while on this trip, but that’s another story.)

In January 2011, Chicago experienced its own snowpocalypse.  My seminary was closed for three days (how awesome is it that seminary is closed for something called the snowpocalypse or snowmageddon?). Lake Shore Drive became a parking lot as people abandoned their cars to walk home or to other shelter.  Snowbirds (cars covered and plowed in by snow) sat on the streets for over a month.  I think it was too expensive for the city to unbury them in order to tow them.  Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first snowball.
Lakeshore Drive, Chicago


At least a day after the Chicago storm

I can’t imagine being stuck in my car for hours or having my children forced to sleep at school.  I am heartened by the compassion of many who didn’t close their stores to allow people shelter, invited strangers into their homes, or braved the conditions to help those were stranded.  You can check out the Facebook pages “Snowed Out Atlanta” and “The Heroes of Snowed in Atlanta 2014” to see more.  What has really grabbed me, though, is the blame game going on between city and state officials and the National Weather Service.  Out of the many words that are flying back and forth, there seem to be five that are the hardest to say.

I was wrong.  I’m sorry.

 Some say “I love you” are the hardest words to say, but I don’t think so.  We “love” pretty freely in our society.  We hate pretty easily as well.  But to say “I was wrong.  I’m sorry.” – we act like it will bring on the actual Armageddon if we utter these words. Sometimes we say them but immediately cancel them out with a “but.”  As in “I was wrong, BUT it was the National Weather Services’ fault.”  All we are actually doing is saying the other person was wrong.

I’m not sitting in judgment of the various people in charge in Georgia.  I think the situation merely represents the blame culture we live in.  Ask my husband how many times I’ve said, “I was wrong.” in the 25 years we’ve known each other.   I might get out “You were right,” but don’t actually admit my own wrong-doing.  It’s usually my pride that keeps me from saying these words.  It’s also my fear.  If I’m wrong, will you respect or love me less?

I was wrong.  I’m sorry.

We hold on to these words, unwilling to share them with others in order to protect ourselves. But what we really protect ourselves from are honest, vulnerable and accountable relationships.  We use them as them as the bricks and mortar to build walls around ourselves that keep us protected.  But they also keep us alone. 

“Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no.  Anything more than this comes from the evil one.” – Matthew 5:37 (CEB)

Jesus was talking here about oaths, but I think it applies to saying I’m sorry.  I think Jesus was saying we should be honest about ourselves and with one another.  What we say should be truth, and we shouldn’t need to qualify it with anything else.  I understand the mayor of Atlanta is afraid he will lose his job if he admits fault for what happened. It’s not his fault it snowed in Atlanta.  It’s not his fault that the city is just not equipped for this type of weather conditions.​  But it is his responsibility to make decisions – and sometimes we make the wrong ones.  And when we do, we should be able to admit it. If we don’t, I’m not sure how we learn from our mistakes.  The mayor may lose his job; I may lose your respect.  But at least the mistake isn’t waste and my integrity isn’t compromised – and neither is our relationship.

Related posts

4 Thoughts to “The Five Hardest Words to Say”

  1. […] evening, I sat both boys down and told them I was sorry.  I wasn’t just sorry: I was wrong.  As the adult, I should allow enough time for us to get ready.  As their Mom, I should know how […]

  2. […] important things well.  Like “I love you” and “I was wrong.  I’m sorry.”  Saying them well isn’t just uttering the words but meaning them.  They will require your […]

  3. Lauren McMillen

    It was very refreshing to hear the Governor of Georgia accept responsibility today. I cannot remember if he used the actual words, “I am sorry,” but he said the buck stops with him and he accepts responsibility. I respected him for those words. Now, if I could just apply that same lesson to myself more often…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.