Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. [Psalm 32:5 (NLT)]
Having just returned from the East Coast, I had a lengthy “to do” list and thought I could fit in a few errands before picking up my mother-in-law for her doctor’s appointment. As I pushed the cart through the store, I glanced down at my watch to check the time and gasped. To my dismay, I’d lost an hour! I should have been picking her up right then; there was no way we would make it to the doctor’s on time. Leaving the cart in the aisle, I rushed to my car. Rather than think how to save the situation, my first thought was how to spin it! Other than my own carelessness and stupidity, what valid excuse could I have for my tardiness? As I started the car, I glanced at the clock on the dash and realized that hour hadn’t disappeared; I’d left it back East. While my watch was still on EST, my car, mother-in-law, the doctor and I were in CST and there was still plenty of time.;
Rather than a complete fabrication, spinning is selectively gathering facts, omitting relevant truths, and then shaping them to support our version of the story. Spinning reshapes people and events with half-truths, diversions, exaggeration, inaccuracies, emotion-laden words, attacks and euphemisms. Spinning gives us “alternative facts.” It calls bombs “lethal defensive weapons,” cheating on emissions tests “possible non-compliance,” adultery an “inappropriate relationship,” embezzlement a “personal failing,” and information we don’t like “fake news.”
Although spinning is just a nicer way of saying deceiving, we all do it. Sometimes, we spin to save someone’s feelings but, far more often, we do it to save ourselves from a reprimand, consequences, embarrassment, or humiliation. The first spinners, of course, were Eve and Adam who spun the apple story to shift the blame. Eve said it was the serpent’s fault and Adam placed the blame on both Eve and God (for giving him the woman in the first place)! Detouring around a troublesome question, Cain spun when he answered God’s question as to the whereabouts of his brother with a question of his own. We spin so we don’t have to admit our failings. Aaron spun the golden calf incident by blaming the evil Israelites rather than his weak leadership.
When we can’t make an accusation disappear, we spin it to explain that what we did wasn’t really that wrong. Told to completely destroy everything in the Amalekite nation, Saul disobeyed by sparing the king’s life. His troops destroyed only what was worthless and took the rest for themselves. When confronted by Samuel, rather than admitting his greed and disobedience, Saul spun the story. Making no mention of the monument he’d set up for himself, he claimed the prohibited plunder was to be a sacrifice to God. Sometimes, we spin when it isn’t even necessary. When Jesus asked the crippled man at Bethesda if he wanted to get well, rather than a simple yes or no, the man blamed his disability on those who wouldn’t help him to the pool.
David had a perfect opportunity to put a spin on his adultery with Bathsheba. When confronted by Nathan, the king easily could have blamed the beauty for seducing him or Joab for misunderstanding his directions regarding Uriah’s fate. Instead, David did what all of us are expected to do: confessed and said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Although we prefer making excuses and laying the blame for our failures elsewhere, let us never forget that we, like David, must always take full responsibility for our actions.