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A Caring Confession

There are times when we make mistakes or choices that hurt others. Most of the time, we need to confess when we do something wrong. However, I’ve seen, discussed and experienced some examples of when we should keep things to ourselves or when I think it is ok to keep our mistakes to ourselves. I think each of these examples go back to the example of the surprise when we need to consider the good of the person in our choice.

My first example comes from reading a book by Dr. Ruth Westheimer. It was a while ago when I read it, but I believe the example comes from her book Dr. Ruth’s Guide to Good Sex. Someone asked about whether or not they should confess about sleeping with someone else’s partner. Dr. Ruth carefully assessed the situation and noted that the motive behind the person who had been the “other” might actually be to try to break up the couple to get full-time and complete access to the person. In this circumstance, the other person might not actually be confessing with the best of intentions. Therefore the confession could actually be malicious rather than in the best interest of the couple who may have needed to work out their own issues themselves.

Similarly, I’ve discussed relationships with friends where they have had some casual fun with another friend’s former sexual partner. In these cases, it seemed there was no serious prior relationship between the friend and the lover, but they still felt a need to keep the relationship a secret. It makes sense to me why this is the case. When a relationship ends, it should truly be over, but of course we still hold feelings with former partners at times. Even if we have met someone new, there could be hidden feelings for a former lover. In this case, it can be a kindness to everyone to keep such a casual relationship secret. We may still be honest if a friend suspects something, but we don’t need to shove such things in their face.

My last example has nothing to do with myself and a choice not to confess a mistake a made when making dinner for some friends. One time, when preparing a dinner, I needed to make a meal vegetarian, and for one dish, I forgot to change out a meat broth for a vegetable broth. I didn’t even think about it at the time and totally thought I had done everything correctly. After the dinner and talking with one of my friends, I realized my mistake. I decided not to say anything, since I could do nothing to correct it, and revealing the truth could do nothing for my friend. My friend had no allergy problem. It was just how they chose to eat. I also realized I needed to pay closer attention next time and learned from my mistake.

Generally speaking, when we make a mistake, we should be ready to confess and take responsibility for our actions. Even if we don’t mean harm, we should still affirm our care for the well being of other people. Certainly, there are times when we simply disagree with others about what actions are best. Also, as just discussed, there are times when confession merely brings more anguish or may not be delivered with concern for another. Each of us has to judge these things on our own. However, truth must be delivered with care or at least intention not just for the sake of speaking the truth as a blind and absolute principal.

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