Ponderings with Doug – May 13, 2016


Doug De Graffenried – First United Methodist Church, Natchitoches, Louisiana

I am reading a book that I recommend for every husband. The book is Kathryn Schultz’s, Being Wrong, Adventures in the Margin of Error. I am resonating with the book! Many in my congregation and constituents (I have both now) will celebrate that I am finally “catching on.”

As an example of what I am learning. Doesn’t it give you great satisfaction when you are right? You feel good. There is a more pleasurable feeling than being right. It is being right and being able to say, “I told you so.” That is the ultimate cognitive high. The thesis of her book is that even when we know we are right we can still be and often are, wrong.

That happens in the husband world. I’m speaking to the husbands now. When she drags you off to shop for clothes and comes out of the dressing room and asks, “Honey, do these jeans make my butt look big?” I know this is a family publication, but every husband reader has heard that question. Guys at this point, do you want to be right, or do you want to have continued marital bliss? I can tell you even if your wife is pencil thin, there is no way of answering that question without getting yourself into a bind. If you say, “Those jeans do not make your butt look big.” She will ask a follow up question about another pair of pants or what you think of that anatomical structure in general. The correct answer is, “Honey you look grand, but what do you think about those jeans?” I can’t emphasize this enough; make no reference in your answer to her derrière. Before she answers your response question completely, suddenly see something that draws you away from the dressing room area. We seasoned husbands know better than hanging around outside the dressing room in the first place.

What if you answered your wife’s question by saying, “I don’t know?” How much trouble would come into your life by admitting you didn’t know the answer to her question?

Kathryn Schultz opines, “In sum, we love to know things, but ultimately we can’t know for sure that we know them; we are bad at recognizing when we don’t know something; and we are very, very good at making stuff up.”

I am learning about many of the categories of cognitive missteps that lead me to “being wrong.” The first problem I face is that I am a male. The second challenge arising out of the first problem is that I listen with male ears. The older I grow the more my ears are losing their ability to clearly understand what is spoken in the female vocal range. My hearing is fine my attention is under paid.

The other day my bride and I were together in a waiting room. I was thinking about some of the water problems we are repairing at the church. Water got into our gym and on the wooden floor. We weren’t aware of the full scope of the problem until the floor grew a wooden mountain. The gym floor buckled in such a way that Driskill Mountain might no longer be the highest point in Louisiana. We had water from above and from below aid in the formation of the gym mountain. I was thinking about the brick wall in the back of the gym and how to fix the problem with water intrusion through the wall.

My bride was Facebook stalking as she waited for her appointment. A Facebook post read, “Pray for the repose of the soul.” She wanted to understand that phrase so she asked her seminary-trained-very-knowledgeable-highly-experienced-minister husband to explain “the repose of the soul.”

I looked at her and said, “Weep-holes of the soul?”

Weep holes are found in most brick walls. They are usually on the third or fourth course of bricks. If you notice that there is a vertical hole between bricks you have found a weep hole. Hopefully you have several of them along the brick structure. They are one method by which moisture is released from the inside of a brick wall. They allow the moisture flow out and keep condensation from building up. Construction people can explain them better; I gave you the not-a-construction-expert-preacher explanation of weep holes.

I was thinking about the weep holes in the gym wall when my wife said, “repose of the soul.”

I thought she was crazy to ask about the weep holes of the soul. Everyone knows the weep holes of the soul are the tear glands. That is how the soul expresses both joy and sadness through tears. It was a great answer! She looked at me like I had won the “Idiot of the Eon” trophy.

Not “weep holes of the soul.” I said, “Repose of the soul.”


“Well honey you are in luck, because I know the answer to that one too.” We both laughed so hard our weep holes allowed tears to leak down our cheeks.

Being a Christian is not about knowing the right answers it is about following the right Savior.

Why don’t you join the Christians on Sunday they will be celebrating God’s grace which covers us especially when we are wrong.

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