Ask forgiveness, not permission

January 16, 2022 // Ask forgiveness, not permission

Who was it that said, “ask forgiveness, not permission?” After a Google search the saying is actually not that old.

Grace Hopper was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming.

She also was the first to say, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than the ask for permission.” While a popular phrase, it is wildly misused. Most people think it is about getting away with something that someone would otherwise tell you no if you asked them. She meant something different. She meant do the right thing whether or not anyone ever knew it. Sounds like character right?

Well, I have something to confess. I had to ask for forgiveness instead of permission and it was not good at all. Let me explain.

This past Sunday night/Monday morning, I was laying in the chair at the hospital with Kristi sleeping next to me receiving care after a difficult weekend and probable cancer diagnosis. I was pondering about what I could do to lift her spirits and take her mind off the cancer even if only for a few minutes. That’s when it came to me – a parking lot wave from all the people that love her and are there to support her through this very difficult time. Yes! I’ll put the word out to see if people would come. “Alright,” I thought, “good plan.” Then a small voice in the back of my head said, “should you check with the hospital to make sure it’s ok?” I quickly squashed that thought and begin thinking about how I could make it as meaningful as possible. if it simply would have people waving, this post would have been different. So, people, lights, hmmm, what would Kristi like? FIREWORKS!! Yes! This was so loud in my head that I never even heard that small voice again!

I put out the word out on a post and even said, “I’ll probably get in trouble, but I’m a rebel.” As if that makes anything justifiable. Anyway, the Wednesday event grew and grew and was awesome!

A backstory – you may not care, but… back in the ‘90s there was this commercial that showed a coupe waking around a picturesque town in Italy. Somewhere romantic. This couple was walking around hand in hand until they came to this little plaza with a church, old buildings, brick street, pigeons everywhere, and people. The guy walks the girl to the middle of the courtyard, backs up and yells, “I LOVE THIS WOMAN!” The pigeons fly as a group, the people look around, silence settles on the couple and he pulls out a ring.

“I LOVE THIS WOMAN!” Commercial

Ah yeah, I’ve always loved that commercial. I’ve loved it so much that I have told Kristi that I WILL do the same thing some day, pigeons and all. She has always threatened me, “I will leave you if you ever do that!” Haha! I have come close several times, I have whispered it in her ears, I have gotten on one knee and she has slowly over time gotten used to my stupidity.

Well, this past week, when we were seeing death in the face, I thought to myself, I’m not going to be able do what I knew someday I would do. Crap! So Wednesday night, the 12th of January, 2022 at 6pm was my “I LOVE THIS WOMAN!” Moment.

She was so surprised and felt so much love by you all, that she didn’t leave me 😎. But I did get in trouble. Sort of. Well, yes. I found myself saying I’m sorry and also asking for leniency on all those who participated. Now, not anyone that came to wave, but the ones who set off fireworks, my friends at the PD and friends at the Fire Department.

I received a call from an important person (name isn’t important, but someone with authority to fine me, have me arrested, etc…) saying that fireworks were illegal in OKC without a permit. The reporting, fire, and safety needed to be coordinated with the City and a permit needed to be acquired. There were multiple infractions that were trampled. Not only did my character fail, but I drug a bunch of community servants along with me. For this I am truly regretful and sorry.

I learned that asking for forgiveness instead of permission is the wrong way to go about it. It hurts our name. It hurts our credibility. It hurts our relationships. And it could have caused serious problems. I am grateful for the grace of the City. I am grateful for forgiveness. I am grateful for second chances.

Jesus said, “He who has never sinned, pick up the first stone.” Well, we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standards. We all fall short. We all make mistakes. We all need forgiveness.

Here’s the part I really appreciate. I was called out. I was corrected. I was educated. I was given a chance to do it again correctly. I was given grace.

So “Ask forgiveness, not permission” meant:

Do the right thing, whether or not anyone knows it. That way you can help the people that are around you and waking with you.

It did NOT mean:

Do what you want and ignore the law. Do what you want and it will all be ok. Do what you want. That is not the same thing at all!

Next time that little voice pops in your head. Stop and listen. It might just keep you from getting called out!

Bottom line, I did what I did with no regard for correctness. I am sorry. I am very sorry that I asked my friends at the PD to do something that will get them in trouble 😢. I am very sorry that asked someone to break the law.

When I do this again – yes, I plan on having fireworks, groups of people, PD and Fire to celebrate the hospital workers and patients – I will go through the proper paperwork, get the proper permit, and not involve anyone without permission to do so.

“Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”

James 4:17

I wonder what kind of permit I’ll need in an Italian piazza to yell, “I LOVE THIS WOMAN!” ?

Ray Rhoton



7 thoughts on “Ask forgiveness, not permission

  1. Probably take after your mother! 🤣 It was an awesome moment and a show of incredible love for Kristi! It’s refreshing to see even with city officials that there exists grace and compassion. Praying for you both as the journey continues.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad you didn’t get into much trouble! Rob and I are praying for Kristy continually and for all of your family there. She is one of my special ministry girls and I love her so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yikes! I was wondering how you had pulled so many strings so quickly. So happy the powers that be showed you Grace. I was worried in this day and time someone not knowing about the fireworks would think someone was shooting😳 just know I would have bailed you out! If Gordon is ever in the hospital and they tell me I can’t see him. I WILL need bail money. Love you and how MUCH you love Kristi❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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