There are a lot of fun things about being a published author. For example, you are forever a published author even if you end up in a lonely bargain bin at some godforsaken outlet mall while some spiritual guru sells millions and millions of books for saying practically nothing, but I'm not bitter. Whew. Didn't see that coming.
One of the really bad things about being published is that your words are forever "out there" in your permanent record. When you write a book, your words cannot be denied. That is unless you are Charles Barkley and you claim you were misquoted in your own autobiography. But Charles . . . your autobiography is in your own words . . . sigh . . . never mind.
I will always have some words in print that I wish I had safely back in my computer. When I was a younger man I suffered from CFS: chronic Fonzie syndrome. Fans of the old Happy Days TV show will recognize the character of Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli. Fonzie was the coolest guy on the show. But he had one big problem: He could not bring himself to say he was wrong. The clips are still funny. Fonzie takes a deep breath and makes the attempt:
"I was wr . . .wro . . . wr . . ."
He would finally make a choking sound in total resignation.
I know that CFS can also stand for chronic fatigue syndrome, and I am not making light of that frustrating malady. But it can also really wear you out never to be able to be wrong. When I was wrong in the past it would cue up the old soundtracks (negative tapes are always instant cues) and I would feel stupid and less than enough. I knew they would soon discover that I was an imposter and a college dropout and that I had a Barry Manilow cassette in my car. I would get defensive and hidden.
And then I was healed. Miraculously, I no longer suffer the effects of chronic Fonzie syndrome. In fact I can say it in all caps:
I WAS WRONG!
My healing was very simple. I finally trusted that what God says about me in His Word is true. I am justified by faith. I am not condemned. I am a new creature in Christ. I have been changed already. All of the junk that makes me defensive and weird and hidden has been nailed to the cross. It does not exist anymore. I am a saint in the eyes of the Father. I have the Holy Spirit to help me understand His Word and my deepest needs. So why was I afraid to admit that I am also still human? Because I knew everything in this paragraph but I didn't yet believe and trust it. That is the difference.
So I got a chance to exercise my incredible healing when an irate email arrived in the cyber mailbox:
I'm reading through your book right now, When Bad Christians Happen to Good People. I bought it at Half Price Books for $1. I thought, 'Hey, a sweet deal and (hopefully) a sweet read.' While I can say that the first few chapters fulfilled a sense of enjoyment well worth the asking price, I soon found your political stumblings too much to chew. I'm okay with the fact that you're a Republican, and I can appreciate the fact that you're not a perfect Christian. However, I am bothered by the fact that you can use a politically charged rant as a method to reveal wisdom about evangelism.
I wish you well in the future, Dave. I contemplated whether or not I should visit your site and post a writer's criticism, because I have a feeling that you will simply write me off as one of those evil Christians your book deems as nonsense.
I had no problem admitting to Michael that I agreed with him that using politics was a really bad idea. I had no problem agreeing that I am not a perfect Christian (other references available from Joni and sons). I had no problem in posting his views on the old website. And I had no problem sending a note to him to tell him I was wrong:
You might disagree with my chapter on evangelism (by the way, so do I), but did you really think I would write you off as an evil Christian? I actually wrote a blog post expressing my dismay that I used politics to try and make a point.
It was a mistake and I am currently doing a rewrite and that chapter will be gone. I wrote a blog post expressing my regrets. The full article is at Crosswalk.com
Mainly I am wounded that you haven't gotten a dollar's worth out of the rest of the book! (Kidding.) I would encourage you to read some more of my stuff before you cast me off. I am a different person than I was eight years ago.
So . . . am I off your Christmas card list?
Blessings and grace,
Later I got a wonderful and gracious response from Michael. He appreciated the response and the honesty. He even promised to buy the second book at full retail! (Joni, we are going out for ice cream tonight!!!) And he even hinted that a Christmas card might be in the works. But the cool thing is that this Christian thing really can work when we are authentic and live in grace. We all make mistakes. You can be healed today of chronic Fonzie syndrome. Just say it. I was wrong. I am sorry. No explanatory words are needed like I was having a bad week or decade or life. Those three word phrases work just fine. There is healing power in grace and humility.