Friday, August 03, 2012

Confession and Mercy

I deeply respect people who can admit they were wrong.

There's a guy in Harrisburg named Rick who fixes our cars.  His business is Petra Automotive.  The longer we go there the more we appreciate him.  He does a good job, he's flexible, he's prompt, he's honest.

And today I found out he's also humble.

Amy had her Honda in to get the timing belt fixed.  And something else that I don't remember.  It was supposed to be done at three this afternoon.  Amy couldn't pick it up because she worked at Grocery Depot all day.

I told her I'd make sure it came home.

Emily was on her way to pick blueberries at 3 so I asked her to drop me off.  Rick said the car wasn't quite ready--it would take another ten minutes, so Emily dropped me off at the post office and she took off for the berry patch.

I mailed my package and walked to Rick's in the lovely sunshine.

The car wasn't done.  And Rick had a very chagrined look on his face.

He and an employee had taken it out for a final drive, he said, just to make sure it was ok.  And then there was a rattling sound and it turned out that a big crucial bolt had fallen off somewhere.  Because. . . [I could tell this was hard to say] he had forgotten to tighten it.

The younger man was out scouring the countryside for that bolt, which seemed to be a very specific and distinctive Honda bolt that you couldn't just grab off the shelf and replace.

So I hung out at the library for a while.  Then I got the call that the car was ready to go and walked back.

Rick looked chagrined and very very relieved at the same time.  The employee had found the bolt, it was in good and tight, and the car was good to go.

He felt terrible about his lapse in judgment.

I said it's ok; we all need an extra dose of grace now and then.

So I drove home and thought about that.

We have all dealt with professional people, or important people, or people in authority, who could not admit they were wrong.

I'll bet someone comes to your mind right now.  A doctor, a pastor, a construction contractor, a boss, maybe a teacher.

They made a mistake.

And they just could not find it within themselves to say, "I was wrong.  I erred.  It was my fault."

Instead they covered it up and blamed others and obfuscated and gave long confusing explanations and made excuses.  Something came up, a part has to be ordered, more tests are needed, it's an unusual situation, someone was sitting down on the job, kids these days.

To somehow protect themselves, save face, and preserve their dignity.

And how did you feel?

Frustrated, I'll bet.  Angry.  Used.  Confused.  Taken advantage of.  Defensive.  And you knew you couldn't trust them again.

And how did I feel about Rick who openly admitted his error?

Compassionate, understanding, forgiving.

And we will certainly trust him to keep fixing our cars.

Quote of the Day:
"He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy."
--Proverbs 28:13


  1. When we were kids, you used to make us tell each other "I could be wrong" when we were being particularly argumentative.

    I hated it then, but I cannot begin to describe how thankful I am now that you made me do that

  2. I just today had my oil changed again, as I have had done several times, since something sort of similar happened to me. Probably a couple years ago after I had had my oil changed at this same place (a privately owned gas station with a garage that still does things the old-fashioned way, the best I can tell--NOT an "Oil Can Henry's", in other words)I got a call on my cell phone shortly after I left the shop. Thankfully he had me in their records, including my cell number, as I am a "regular" there every 3000+/- miles. Shortly after I left, they saw a trail of fresh oil on the asphalt, and figured it must have been from my car. Good thing I had stayed in town to do some shopping afterward, because if I had gone home, it wouldn't have had such a good outcome. I would have probably run the engine dry of oil before even getting home. As it was, I had driven not too far from the shop and had parked. Got a call that he wanted me to come back to the station/shop right away, and told me why. He readily admitted that he didn't get (something--the filter?) screwed back on tight enough or straight or something. He said it IS a challenging thing to do with my particular kind of car--but I know that they make special effort to not let that happen again. And I trust him, and appreciate his honesty and the fact that he didn't try to cover up what had happened. I plan to keep going there as long as they keep their doors open and are providing that service!

  3. wise, wise post. Thank you for this story.

  4. Alvin Miller8/04/2012 12:55 PM

    Thank you for this blog. As a christian, I am well aware of the need for honesty----and confession.
    A reminder like this is so helpful. It causes me to "sit still" and reflect as it points me toward reconcilation with God and my fellowman.

  5. Wow, Matt! Dorcas, that should be your next QOTD!!! :) -PC in VA