By Jill Skalicky
The phrase, “I told you so,” is not unfamiliar to the majority of adults. Indeed, it is a common statement directed at children, and so they are familiar with that phrase, as well. Usually, this comment is directed at someone after he/she realizes or admits the error of a particular decision. The one who had given the warning about a negative result then has the dubious pleasure of saying, “I told you so.” Depending on how that statement is interpreted, a positive or negative response will result. There could be anger with resulting negative behaviors, lashing out verbally or physically, for example, or there could be a humble acceptance of the warning. Still better, is to say, “What did you learn from this?”
The toddler who puts his hand on the hot stove after being told not to, soon learns that Mom knew what she was talking about when she said he would burn his hand. Sometimes, it takes more than one burn before the lesson is learned, but it will eventually and definitely happen.
What about the teen who insists she no longer needs piano lessons because she is so busy with academics and other interests that she would not have time to practice sufficiently, to really improve as a pianist? The mother finally gives in to the stubborn attitude of her daughter, and so the lessons cease, but not before the teen is told that, “You’ll be sorry.” With chagrin, I admit that I was that immature teenager. Mother was right. “Honor thy father and mother” comes to mind. Lesson learned!
Children, teenagers, and certainly adults are not immune to regrets. This may be because of missed opportunities, when someone is really not paying attention. How unfortunate, that many times, this is just plain willful! Another example is not taking time to share a gospel tract with someone, or not even remembering to take tracts along with you. This can cause many regrets, in hindsight. Another kind of regret was expressed by former Vice President Dick Cheney, when he was introducing a particular speech writer to an audience. The Vice President noted that he wished he had hired this speech writer for himself, before his political opponent had done so. Isn’t it true, that “Hindsight is 20/20?”
It is so important to be teachable at any age. Interestingly, we were created with two ears, and only one mouth. Think about this: babies are born fully capable of hearing, but speech needs to be developed. The good listeners are the ones- young or old- who develop wisdom. Listen, listen, listen, and then respond appropriately. Contrary to what we may think, none of us have “arrived.” The speaker at a recent home-school graduation made a point of telling the graduates that though they may think otherwise, they really had not “arrived.” None of us have.
Knowledge, wisdom, and understanding don’t just happen. Be actively pursuing them. Proverbs is a wonderful source for such attributes. None of us really want to hear, “I told you so.”