The Joy of Being Wrong

Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Featuring: Rev. Richard Rogers
Week #2 of the 5-Week Series, "Think Again"

Click HERE to download this transcript.

Click HERE to view Rev. Rogers' guided meditation during the service.

Okay; you ready? So if you had to make a list of your biggest mistakes; if you had to come up with your top 10, your top five, your top 50, whatever it is; if you had to come up with your biggest mistakes, could you write them down? Could you look at them? Could you see them?

Because for most of us, we don't want to see our biggest mistakes. We don't wait to acknowledge them; we don't want to see them; we just want to pretend like [puts fingers in his ears] "Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah." We don't want to see it!

And what I want you to see tonight is: I think that our mistakes are absolutely necessary. I think every one of your mistakes was absolutely necessary to bring you to this moment.  But I also believe -- and my question is: Did you feel loved in the presence of your mistakes?

Because for some of us -- maybe for most of us; maybe for almost all of us -- there's this area, this space, where ... "Okay, I could make a mistake." Or intellectually we believe, "Well, I know I'm human; I'm going to make mistakes." We have this acceptance of a certain level of mistakes.

But the idea that those mistakes are the very way that we learn unconditional love is really hard for us. Because we spend so much time and energy striving to be better; striving to be perfect; striving to do better and better and better. And the idea that our mistakes really are the way that we learn unconditional love really is a game-changer for many of us. That we actually need to make mistakes to practice unconditional love.

And for many of us, we are much more generous with other people's mistakes. We can find forgiveness and compassion and love in their mistakes. But when it comes to our own mistakes, it's like, "No; I should have done better. I should have known better; shouldn't have done it." And it's like, that could all be true! And yet, what if you open your heart all the way to you, and love yourself even in spite of the fact that you've made mistakes?

Anybody feel like they've made a couple of big ones? [Congregation laughs] Like, a couple of really big mistakes, right? And when we look at our mistakes, they're so humbling. Like they just, "Oh! I just can't believe I did it! Really ... And I did it. That's mine. That's my mistake."

But I want you to see that there are two requirements for unconditional love.

The first requirement is that you not be perfect. It's a requirement! Because who couldn't love a perfect person? Is there anybody that you know that couldn't love a perfect person? Everybody could love a perfect person! A perfect person never makes mistakes; they never have shortcomings; they always the right thing. Right? It never comes out sideways or mean or cheap or little. They just ... They're perfect! But I just don't know those people! [Congregation laughs] I'm sure they're here someplace, but I don't know those people! The people I know; the people I live with; the people that are part of my family and my world [laughs] ... We make mistakes! But it's a requirement to make mistakes to know unconditional love.

And the second one is that you have to be willing to reveal your shortcomings to others. See, if you make a mistake, and you never are willing to share it with anyone, you never get to feel unconditional love, because your shame doesn't allow you to say it out loud. And the moment you can say it out loud, there's a possibility -- that unconditional love -- could actually be bigger than your mistakes!

And we need to be able ... Now, do we need to post every mistake in the newspaper for everyone to read? No! But there's people in your life that I believe could handle your mistakes. That already know you're not perfect. And no matter how much you want to be perfect, they know you're not perfect! And they're actually okay with that. They're more okay with you not being perfect than you are with it!

So I want to talk today about this book. And if you want to play along at home it's called Think Again by Adam Grant. And Adam Grant's a smart guy. He's Harvard-educated. He's a smart guy. He's well written; he's a smart guy. And he makes the case that, for the world to move forward -- especially where we are right now -- we have to be willing to think again. We have to be willing to entertain and move beyond some of our old thoughts -- some of our old beliefs -- and to move beyond. And he makes a case that, to fully move forward in your life -- and the life of our world -- we need to make peace with being wrong.

So will you say with me, "I love being wrong!"?

Together: [with congregation] "I love being wrong!"

One more time, just for grins: [with congregation] "I love being wrong!"

And feel how much resistance your ego has to that! Does anybody else's ego have resistance to saying out loud, "I love to be wrong"? I want you to see over and over again how much your ego is committed to you never making a mistake. And I want you to be able to differentiate that between your spirit. Because God in you doesn't care when you make a mistake. God in you just thinks, "Oh, that's adorable! Is that adorable? That's just adorable! Look at her; look at him! He's just making a mistake one right after another. Isn't that cute?" Like, God has so much compassion and love for you! God is not attached to your scorecard!

Do you know in baseball, they keep track of everything? They literally track ... They have a percentage for everything: walks; at bats. They have a percentage of home runs. They know for every player that has ever played their complete percentage for everything. Right?

I want to know tonight: What do you think your percentage of wrongness is? Do you think you're batting 25%? Do you think you're batting 75%? Do you're up at 85%? And I want you to really look at: Can you make peace with your mistakes so that you can actually learn?

This is from Adam Grant:

"In some ways, the joy of being wrong is the freedom to keep learning ... If you can embrace the joy of being wrong, then you get to anchor your identity more in being someone who's eager to discover new things, than someone who already knows everything."

See, I want you to see that your ego over and over again tells you that you should already know everything. And not only know it, but you should be able to perform everything the first time out. Like, your ego really believes that there should never be a learning curve; that there should never be growth; that there should never be any sense of evolution or transformation. Your ego tells you that you have to come in perfect; you have to be perfect; you have to know everything perfectly. And it's just not spiritual.

You know, Dr. Carol Dweck from Stanford University; she's a professor. She's written so much about the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. She said that you learn one of two mindsets from your parents, your teachers, your coaches: that either personal qualities such as intelligence and ability are innate and unchangeable, which is the fixed mindset; or you learn that you can change and grow; and that's the growth mindset.

And tonight I really want you to open your life to the possibility that you could make a mistake and be loved in the same experience. That, over and over again, you could actually make a mistake -- a big one; a big, old mistake! -- and that you could actually keep your heart open and practice unconditional love.

And for most of us, that's our spiritual step that we're in. Many of us are really learning how to keep our heart open to us in the presence of our own shortcomings. And the only way we can learn that [laughs] is to have shortcomings!

How many of you, if you could, would just wipe away all your shortcomings? [Laughs] Most of us would, right? And I want you to see how much that's driven by our ego! Our ego wants to tell us that we should never make a mistake. We should never have shortcomings. And we should never fall; we should never make a mistake. And over and over again, that's not the voice of God in you! The voice of perfection in you is not the voice of Spirit! The voice of Spirit in you is the voice of love.

And so, over and over again, we demonstrate our shortcomings to see if we can keep our heart open. And over and over again, we have this opportunity. In Unity we believe in the evolution of a soul; in the evolution of your humanity; and the evolution. That, over and over again, we get better and better and better at being ourselves. And that's the challenge.

In John Jesus said in 8:32, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Adam Grant said it this way:

"The goal is not to be wrong more often. It's to recognize that we're all wrong more often than we'd like to admit and the more we deny it, the deeper the hole we dig for ourselves."

I want you to be able to take a deep breath tonight. I do! I want you to be able to take a deep breath and make peace with every one of your shortcomings. "Well, Richard, I've got a long list! Like, you don't know some of the choices I've made! You don't know some of the hurdles I've had."

And it's like: We all have them! I mean, if we shared all of our things -- all of our struggles; all of our disappointments; all of our limitations -- we would find that most everybody's limitations and shortcomings and fears sound pretty familiar in one way or another! But when we say we do it, or we've done that, we actually then start beating ourselves up. "Well, I shouldn't have. I should have done better; I could have done better; I knew better." Okay; true! But can you keep your heart open in the presence of your choices?

One of the favorite quotes I found is from a gentleman named Criss Jami. He wrote a book called Healology. And I want you to really hear this quote. He said:

"Pride is pride not because it hates being wrong, but because it loves being wrong. To hate being wrong is to change your opinion when you are proven wrong; whereas pride, even when proven wrong, decides to go on being wrong."

I love that! Right? That [laughs] sometimes we get so committed to our position; our thoughts; our beliefs, that we actually will continue to be wrong over and over again. Because to have to admit that we're wrong is actually scarier to us than being wrong! We find it much easier to be wrong than have to admit to another child of God that we are wrong! So we would rather continue, over and over again, to be wrong, because our ego demands that we keep going in this direction!

Donald Hicks said it this way:

"To make mistake or to be wrong is human. To admit those mistakes shows that we have the ability to learn and grow wiser."

[Reading from Adam Grant’s Think Again]:

“Neuroscientists find that when your core beliefs are challenged, it can trigger your primitive "lizard brain" and breezes right past cool rationality and activates a hot “fight-or-flight” response. The anger and fear is visceral: it feels as though somebody is punching your mind. And your totalitarian ego comes in to rescue you with mental armor.

If you choose your views, you can choose to rethink them at any time. This should be a familiar task, because we have a lifetime of evidence that proves that we're wrong on a regular basis.”

I want you to turn to your neighbor and say to your neighbor, "Would you love me if you knew how often I was wrong?" Come on! You want to say it! "Would you love me if you knew how often I was wrong? Would you love me if you knew how often I was wrong?"

And I want you to feel the freedom of that! Like, how many of us are giggling? Because we've spent so much time and energy hoping that no one would see how often we're wrong! And what we would rather trade it for is love.

If you knew that, over and over again -- no matter how wrong; no matter how often you were wrong -- that you just go to be loved, it would just all set us free! It would literally just set us free!

Corinthians 13:4 we read

"Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way."

Let me read that again!

"Love does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things; endures all things. Love never ends."

So over and over again, what I want you to see is that we have a choice in front of us. We're either going to be in service to our ego … And if we're in service to our ego, we have to be right. We have to be right all the time. If we're in service to Spirit -- if we're in service to the activity of God within us -- then the question is: How much can I love myself every moment right where I am?

[Reading from Adam Grant’s Think Again]:

“When an idea or an assumption doesn't matter deeply to us ...”

This is, again, Adam Grant:

"When an idea or assumption doesn't matter deeply to us, we're often excited to question it. There's a natural sequence of emotions, and it goes from surprise -- 'Really?' -- followed by curiosity -- 'Tell me more!' -- to thrill -- 'Wow!' Great discoveries don't often begin with your 'Eureka!' They often begin with, 'That's funny!'

When a core belief is questioned, though, we tend to shut down rather than open up. It's as if the miniature dictator living inside of our head, controlling the flow of facts in our mind just like Kim Jong-un from North Korea. The technical part of our psychology controls our ego. And the job is to keep us out of threatening information.

It's easy to see how our inner dictator comes in handy when somebody attacks our character or intelligence. Those kind of personal affronts threaten to shatter aspects of our identity that are important to us and make it difficult for us to change."

So what I want you to really look at with me tonight is seeing the difference between you and what you've done and your beliefs. See, attachment is what keeps us from recognizing that our opinions are off the mark. So what do we need to detach from? Well, there's two things.

I want you to see tonight the difference between your past self and your current self. Like, for some of us, we have so much difficulty with the fact that our past self has made mistakes that have actually gotten us into our present self.

Right? Because your past self made mistakes, you are who you are today. But then we look back at our past self -- really in judging ourselves -- saying, "But I should never have done that. There should have been a way that I could be who I am today without having to make the mistakes to get there!" And it never works!

Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater, said this:

"If you can't look back at yourself and think, 'Wow! How stupid I was a year ago!' then you must not have learned much in the last year."

See, the key is: If you're really learning, then you can look back at yourself and say, "Wow! Look at all those mistakes that I made regularly that I don't make anymore!" Can everybody see a point in your life -- a year ago; five years ago; 10 years ago -- where you were regularly making choices that you don't make now? Can everybody see at least one incident where you're making choices that you're not making anymore?

Now, if those choices got you to where you are today, then those choices actually served you. They actually moved it! And it would be great if every choice we made we, in hindsight, thought that was a great choice. But we don't!

Charles Fillmore, the co-founder of Unity, said:

"I reserve the right to change my mind. I am not my past; my past got me here, but I am not that any longer."

So the first thing I want you to really detach from is separating out who you are now to who you have been. That you can really see yourself as distinct from who you have been.

And the second one is to detach from your opinions as your identity. Right? Most of us are accustomed to taking on our beliefs as who we are. And what if we didn't have to do that? What if we could actually let go of our beliefs; our ideas; our ideology and not take them on as "us."

How many of you have heard the idea of being a Liberal or a Conservative? Right? Have you all heard that? Now tell me what that is. Is that a label? It can be, but it's not really. A Liberal or a Conservative is a belief in the way government should function. But we wear that ideology; we wear that belief. And we throw those labels around at each other as if it defines who people are. That when we actually put on a belief and we wear it as an "I AM," it actually diminishes our "I AM."

You know, when Moses was speaking to God in the Old Testament, Moses asked God, "Who should I tell them sent me?" And God is recorded as saying, "I AM that I AM.”

And so anytime we are using the "I AM," it really is a spiritual process. So when we say things like, "I am a Liberal" or, "I am a Conservative," we actually are putting on a political belief system, and we're wearing it as an identity to who we are. And what I'd like to suggest today is: You are so much more than that! And the more that we throw around labels; and we wear them; and we try them on; and we throw them on others ... The more that we throw around these labels, the more it actually kind of confuses our real nature, our real essence.

Because you may believe one thing about government, and somebody else may believe something else about government. But that's not who you are! Your identity is separate and greater than that! You're created in the image and likeness of God! And when we throw around identity things, and we label people, the difficulty is that we actually believe that stuff.

Now, from time to time, people grow up thinking that they're ugly. Now, the difficulty with that is that you were created in the image and likeness of God. You literally cannot be ugly if you're created in the image and likeness of God! You can't be ugly! Right? But because somebody told you that -- they labeled you that and attached your "I AM" to that -- then you began to own that label, and you actually began to believe that about yourself. And it's literally not true!

What's true about you is that you were created in the image and likeness of God. That's the only "I AM" that is absolutely 100% completely true about you.

Now, you can put on whatever "I AM" you want. You can run around saying, "I'm a cowboy" or "I'm a whatever" ... you know, "I'm a this or I'm a that"; "I’m a minister.” Whatever. And you could put on those "I AMs." But the real "I AM" of who you are is an expression of God. That's who you really are! Everything else is just playing.

Like, when a little kid is playing doctor or cowboys and Indians -- or whatever they're playing -- do you really believe that they're that? Do you believe that they're that? No! But as we get to be an adult, we forget that we're playing! We forget that it's all a game; that we're just learning.

So you ready for your homework this week? I want you to make a list [laughs] ... [Congregation laughs] I want you to make a list of five of the mistakes that you're still having a hard time with. Five of the mistakes maybe you've made a hundred years ago, or maybe last week. I want you to make a list of five of the mistakes that you're still having a hard time with. And I want you to see if, in those five mistakes, if you can love yourself anyway. So that you can actually move your identity off of those mistakes and put them back to the fact that you were created in the image and likeness of God.

Because I don't want your past mistakes to minimize you anymore. I don't want you to identify with those past mistakes. I want you to learn from them, but I no longer want them to be how you see yourself. That it's time for us to rethink how we see ourselves. That if you see yourself from your most broken point of view, it's not spiritual. It's just egotistical. Your ego is beating you up and you're believing it.

So what are the big two, three, four, five mistakes? And would you be willing to love yourself right there so that you can let them go?

Will you pray with me?

I want you to open your mind, your heart, your soul to the activity of God. And today's a tough one. If you've been spending awhile beating yourself up for something, it's a tough one to get over that one. Because it feels normal. It feels like, "Well, I should beat myself up; I made a mistake. And if I beat myself up enough, maybe others won't beat me up." But it keeps us down; it keeps us small. It keeps us "less than." It doesn't honor God or serve God for you to be small. For you to be wounded; for you to be less than. It doesn't help anyone; it doesn't bring honor or beauty or love into the world.

Tonight, whatever mistakes you've made, replace it with love. Let love be the most important thing. Lift yourself up. Let go of the drama; let go of the stories. Let go of the upset; let go of the shame. And let love be the most important thing. Yes, you get to make a mistake! Yes, you get to learn from it. Yes, you get to grow from it, and know you are not the person you were then. You have more tools; you have more understanding; you have more maturity. And you wouldn't make that choice again. So in all things we look to God, and in all things we give thanks. And so it is. Amen.

Copyright 2022 Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center/Rev. Richard Rogers

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