The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.
Last summer I wrote a post regarding how our culture encourages us to “follow your heart.” I wrote about how this can often take us where we don’t want to go. Something can ‘feel’ right and be completely wrong. I wrote this post because while we know this, we don’t think about it. When you’re angry, it can feel right to hit someone, but we all know this isn’t right. So I wrote my post to encourage you to think about your feelings and to gauge if they’re wrong, even if they feel right. This isn’t too complex.
But what happens when something feels right and it actually is right, but is still somehow wrong? Let me explain. I read a quote once that really stuck with me, even after I forgot where I read it: “The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.”
This sentence doesn’t make much sense unless we put some examples to it.
Starting simple, pretend I have a good sense of humor (haha.). I’m lighthearted and enjoy taking life lightly. This is good. It’s good to be lighthearted. And it’s right to be myself. But say I have a friend going through a really hard time and I go to lunch with her as she’s really stressed. I might be light-hearted, and that might be the way God made me–it might be right, but, in this specific instance–at this time, being light-hearted is the wrong thing.
This one might make sense, but it gets harder to see as the situations become more serious. Say I committed to a summer job, then had someone approach me begging me to fill a different position somewhere else that fit who I was perfectly. This job would be right. It would use my talents to help someone. It could be glorifying God. This feels right. And isn’t it right? But, because I’d already committed somewhere else and can’t back out, this is the wrong time. So it is wrong, at this time, to take the perfect job.
Or say I am very attracted to someone and I desire strongly to support and encourage this person. This feels right. And, isn’t it right? Supporting someone, loving someone, encouraging someone…these are right. These are the right thing. But if I can’t commit to a long-term relationship with these kinds of actions, then I’m playing with someone’s heart. Then now is the wrong time to show these right actions. So it is wrong, in this case, to be loving.
Therefore there are times when doing the right thing is wrong. And this is so hard to wrap my mind around. In some instances, we get this. We get that it’s not always loving to be light-hearted and that sometimes we need to be serious. But, if you’re like me, the circumstances get harder and harder to see clearly. To say no to a perfect job? To quash my loving actions? Understanding that the right thing may be the wrong thing is so much harder than understanding that sometimes that what feels right is actually wrong.
But, as Christ-followers, we’re called to live differently. We are called to speak a different language with our actions. If you’re like me, when that perfect job arises after you’ve committed to one already, or when you have strong feelings for someone who you can’t commit to, you fight your conscience saying that “this is right. I’m doing the right thing.” because loving someone or finding a job that fits you seems so right. But consider timing.
Don’t fool yourself. The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.