Owning Unintended Consequences

For a lot of us who struggle/have struggled with sexual integrity issues, there is a tension in owning our positive actions as well as those actions that bear unintended consequences.  As manipulative people, we tend to focus on one or the other depending on which one benefits us in the moment. Here’s what I mean: when we do things that contribute to our purity or to the protection of our wives hearts we want it to be acknowledged. We hope that our actions will be recognized, and that we’ll get a high-five for doing what we, in all likelihood, should have been doing in the first place. We want praise and affirmation for our positive actions.

Alternatively, when our actions have unintended consequences that cause hurt, pain or disappointment in the people around us, we want to take the spotlight off our actions. Instead, we want to highlight our intentions. It’s almost like we believe if we could convince the hurt person that we didn’t mean to do damage, that our heart was “in the right place” or that we were genuinely trying to do the right thing then we shouldn’t be culpable. We shouldn’t have to pay for something that we intended to be positive but happened to turn out negative.

Should we?

Perhaps we should. Maybe the healing thing to do is take responsibility; even for the unintended consequences of damage to those we love.  How might your life be different if you actually owned those situations that went south, even when you tried so diligently to make them go right?  Could the people in your life who’ve been hurt actually respect you more in the end?

Let’s make this tangible.  Have you ever had a restaurant mess up your order? Picture being at your local Asian food restaurant and ordering a favorite dish. Mine happens to be Kung Pao Chicken. A few minutes later the waiter drops a bowl of Pad Thai in front of you and says, “enjoy!”  Seeing your disappointment and surprise he asks what’s wrong. When you retort that you had your heart set on that delicious Kung Pao he replies, irked, with something along the lines of, “oh, sorry. I intended to put that order in but I guess it turned out wrong. Oops”. The end. Waiter walks away.

How would you feel? What would you want? Do you care who screwed up the order? Do you really want to hear whether he wrote it down wrong, or the kitchen was too busy, or the manager on duty just doesn’t run the place very well?  Chances are you just want them to own it and fix it. You might even be fine with the Pad Thai this time, but you are counting on that Kung Pao without a glitch next time.

Remember, if the person you’ve disappointed doesn’t ask for an explanation, then explanations will likely sound like excuses.