Dad Was Wrong

” . . .but now I tell you . . .”


“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)


It’s strange sometimes the things we remember.  I was in fourth grade when my parents took my sister and I to visit the West Virginia state capitol building.  What an exciting day!  The capitol building is a beautiful structure that inspires awe in an eight year old ( and hopefully others).  I remember three things about the day.  First, I loved the museum in the basement (I’m a history nut).  Second, I had difficulty looking down and up from the second floor of the capitol rotunda (I have difficulty with heights).  Third, when we were standing outside looking at the structure my dad made the comment that the small columns around the very top of the rotunda were probably almost as large as the columns on the very bottom.  Dad said the upper columns on the very top looked so much smaller because of something called, perspective.  Last week I was back at the capitol to open the senate session with prayer.  On my way back to the parking lot something caught my eye.  I didn’t have my good camera with me so the pictures aren’t my best, but they at least captured the moment.  On almost the very top of the rotunda two men were walking around!



When I got home and looked at the photos something startling jumped out at me.  My dad was wrong!  With the two men standing near the upper columns it was easy to see that the upper columns were nowhere near as tall as those on the bottom.  Well, the knowledge that my dad was wrong hasn’t rocked my world.  In fact he was both wrong – and right.  There is such a thing as perspective.  Things really do look smaller than their actual size when viewed from a distance.  On that he was right and gave me a valuable tool for future use.  However, the columns he was using to make the point were actually much, much smaller than he led me to believe.  On that he was wrong.


I’m grateful for all the lessons my father and mother shared with me.  On this one dad was a little right and a little wrong, but I still learned to wonder about this thing we call perspective.  I’m a firm believer that we stand on the wisdom of our elders.  However, some of the most important wisdom our elders have imparted is the awareness that we have to take what they’ve given us and use it, test it, and if necessary modify it to use with new information we glean along our journey.  The ability to engage in this process of change is critical.  Imagine the dilemma I could have been in if I had looked at these photos and felt I had only two options: 1) Deny that the upper columns are really much smaller than the lower ones because my dad couldn’t have been wrong, or 2) Admit that my dad was wrong about that so he must have been wrong about everything.  That could lead to my world becoming very unstable because of the anxiety about trusting.  If I couldn’t trust dad, who could I trust?  If those were my only two options then I’d say there’s a good chance I’d pick the first – denial – because I don’t want that kind of anxiety!  But it’s not the only two options!  I can use the tool dad gave me concerning perspective to evaluate new situations and make decisions while still admitting that he was wrong about this particular example. 

We’ve been following Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew these last few weeks in worship.  I think this is exactly the sort of process Jesus was inviting us to take up when he used this formula, “You have heard that it was said . . . but now I tell you . . .”  Jesus was making it clear he was not throwing out the law of Moses, but rather, was reformulating the tool and its use for the coming generations living under God’s new covenant offered through his love.  I pray that God will give me the courage to avoid denial and live in the formula Jesus offers.  How about you?

Thanks Dad & Mom!

Blessings and Peace,


Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit


My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and



Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on February 26, 2014.

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