When I waa a girl, I had a difficult time with “I told you so”. I was very bright, and like any child who umderstands they are talented in some area, I liked to show off. This resulted in the phrase “I told you so” (in the obnoxious voice only a 9 year old can master) frequently crossing my lips.

My mother patiently explained a few truths to me. And I soon learned that correcting my elders did not endear me to them (the fact that I learned more by shutting up and listening helped — my curiosity was bigger than my need to show off). But the truths she shared were real. “I told you so” is the height of arrogance, self-centred and unloving, and shows no mercy or grace. It is plain rude.

As the overly intelligent 9 year old, was I conceited. I knew more and could think faster than most people — and I knew it. I delighted in proving my quickness, usually by proving another wrong. But “I told you so” doesn’t help anyone. When did pride ever help? All I did was alienate those close to me and keep them from asking me for help. Which in turn prevented me from serving others and kept me from opportunities to best use my gift. Which is what I wanted to do in the first place. My arrogance didn’t serve me or them.

“I told you so” also came from a place of hurt for me. When I didn’t feel listened to our that my input was valued, I felt validated in keeping score and reminding others of my (ignored) contribution. I was more interested in demanding my due than in genuinely serving. But love never keeps a record of wrongs or keeps score. True love prefers others’ opinion over its own and rejoices when another succeeds.

There is no mercy in “I told you so”. That phrase doesn’t allow for human mistakes or human failures. It places a burden of expectations and the disappointment in failure on the target or victim of it. Grace and mercy recognize the imperfections of our fallen natures. But “I told you so” expects perfection. I hated being let down, as a child, and my “I told you so”‘s were my childish demands of attention and my refusal to forgive human failings.

“I told you so” is the ultimate form of disrespect. It gives no honor or kindness to the other. It is selfish and rude. And it is the childish response to the hurts caused by the fact that we at all human and less than perfect. It has no place in the grown up vocabulary. My mother was right. Thank goodness she won’t tell me “I told you so.”

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