Why is it so hard for us to accept responsibility? To be honest about our shortcomings and failures? Why is there so much shame around not being perfect?
I kept thinking about that when the headline popped up in my Facebook news section. “Abby Wambach arrested for DUI”.
And then she releases a statement. “I take full responsibility for my actions. This is all on me. I promise that I will do whatever it takes to ensure that my horrible mistake is never repeated.” And I thought, wow, that’s actually an impressive statement.
And then the next day, I see this headline: “Former US Soccer player Abby Wambach enters not guilty plea in DUI case”. Which is actually misleading, because she didn’t even show up to court to enter her plea, her attorney did it for her. Maybe that’s typical, I don’t know. But still. Why does she feel the need to avoid saying she’s guilty?
This is just like a kid who you see has cookie crumbs on his face and yet will still tell you he didn’t eat any cookies.
What does it mean when we say we take responsibility? Are those just token slogans we throw around, when really we are trying desperately to find a way out of punishment?
I just wonder what would happen if we leaned into the pain a little more. If it was easier to acknowledge that we sometimes mess up on huge scales. I mean we all do it, and so it shouldn’t be such a shameful process.
What if we were a little more honest with each other, with ourselves, even with our judicial system, apparently.
I mean, I know it’s not fun, like at all. But maybe our personal growth is worth it. Is worth the discomfort and the vulnerability. Maybe there is freedom to be found in acknowledging the standards we heap on each other can be so crushing. Maybe we can help each other towards healing when we realize that our own expectations can lead to destructive behaviors. What if we faced the emotions we so often don’t want to think about it or feel? What if we examined why we expect perfection out of people?
What if our public statements read something more like “Yes, I drove drunk and could have killed people, and I am so guilty. But that does not mean I am a hopeless, terrible person.”
“Yes, I have unrealistic expectations for my marriage and put too much pressure on my spouse and I should stop doing that. But that does not mean I am a hopeless, terrible person.”
“Yes I completely screw up this parenting deal all the time. Yes my kids screw up their being a good child thing all the time. But it doesn’t mean we’re hopeless, terrible people.”
Being a human is hard.
What if we just gave each other and ourselves a little more grace?