I’m guessing by now that you’ve heard about the catastrophic gaffe of Steve Harvey [actor, host of Family Feud and of his own talk show] at the Miss Universe Pageant on December 20, 2015. Though I didn’t see it when it aired (and I bet you missed it too!), I have watched the replay as it captures an event that is being described as “the biggest tv fail of the year.”
By mistake, Steve Harvey announced that Miss Columbia had won the crown. She basked in the glory for about two minutes while waving at the audience as flowers, a sash, and a super-sized crown were awarded to her. Then all of a sudden Steve re-entered the stage while somberly saying the words, “I have to apologize.” He told the audience that he had misread the card and in actuality it was Miss Philippines that had won. His words rung out like a church bell tolling in the middle of a quiet night as he added, “I will take responsibility for this…it was my mistake.”
I sat down this week and watched some of the interviews that have aired since all of this happened. I have listened to Steve on his talk show addressing his epic failure. He stood there, alone on his own stage, facing worldwide criticism and attack for his blunder (one that has even led to death threats against him and his family) while courageously addressing the crowd. He didn’t hide or deny. He didn’t deflect or minimize. He didn’t blame or excuse.
If that isn’t a template for heroic fathering, I don’t know what is.
This man owned up.
This man faced his accusers (the world) and the women he hurt.
This man revealed his heart.
This man dropped all defensiveness.
This man asked for forgiveness.
Two weeks ago, almost a month after the incident, Steve dedicated an entire show to this whole fiasco. When asked by a female audience member how he was handling things, he responded:
“I could tell you some hard parts for me, but my deeper concern was for the two women. Because as bad as I felt, my heart bled for Miss Columbia. How could she possibly have felt?
I was stuck on those two women because I have daughters. My wife Marjorie said,
‘You did what your father raised you to be--you went out there and took the hit.’ ”
It touched my heart to hear him express compassion from the vantage point of a father of daughters. He was deeply moved while owning the fact that he had caused harm to two women who were daughters of another dad. He connected to his father heart as he voiced his concern for the potential damage done to these two world-changers.
Just last week on Good Morning America they played clips from the interviews between Mr. Harvey and these two. I was intrigued by how host T.J. Holmes introduced the piece:
“As any man who’s wronged a woman knows, at some point you’re going to have to face the music, sit her down and say, ‘I’m sorry.’ Steve is about to make that happen.”
Wow. That’s some good truth, T.J.
Make a decision.
Face the music.
Sit her down.
Say, “I’m sorry.”
I’m inspired by the way these two men, T.J. and Steve, demonstrate that real relationships involve times where a man must look into the face of the one he’s hurt and initiate the conversation with an apology.
Dad, have you done that with your daughter for hurt you’ve caused to her heart?
As one who has spent the past 18 years as a mental health therapist, I can assure you that I don’t hear stories like this enough. I wish I did. Instead, I have heard both women and many men tell me that the default of men tends towards ignoring, defending, blaming, and sometimes even denying that the event played out the way she says it did. Not always, but often. [I realize that I’ve most likely offended some of you right here. Yet please know that my heart is for men, not against them and my desire is to share things that could lead you to explore the deeper layers of yourself should you resonate with what I’m sharing].
I implore you as men, as fathers, as grandfathers, as leaders and influencers, to realize that you aren’t diminished in our eyes when you tell us that you have messed up and hurt us. It allows our hearts to heal when you ask our forgiveness. We women---your daughters, granddaughters, friends, employees, and co-workers really do respect you more when you own up, admit fault, and ask our forgiveness.
This is what I witnessed in the interviews between Steve and each of these women individually. It began with Steve holding back tears as he told Miss Columbia how truly sorry he was. He then boldly asked her, “How do you genuinely feel about how I handled the situation?” Oh my. Such a courageous question. He had no idea what she would say but opened himself up to hear her honest truth. He had to have known that neither of them would be able to move past this incident if they didn’t have this conversation.
She hesitated for a moment, followed with an awkward laugh and said, “You have to learn how to read the cards.” Then she had a phenomenal follow up while heralding, “You wanted me to win!”
That was all it took for Steve to lean back in his seat, throw his hands in the air, then reach over to give her a “high five” and exclaim, “Yes! I wanted you to win!”
It was then that I watched something miraculous and powerful take place.
Miss Columbia softened her stance as she looked up at the larger-than-life photo that hung above them on his talk show stage while noting, “Look at your face.” She lifted her head to observe what HE had experienced on that fateful December day when admitting to a worldwide audience that he had announced the wrong winner.
Do you see what happens when someone owns up to the hurt they’ve caused another? Instead of blame and defensiveness, anger and perhaps even rage, there is an ability to look at what the other person is experiencing. There is power in admitting the harm you’ve caused and doing whatever it takes to make things right.
I believe that had Steve Harvey not faced this woman, let her see his sorrow for the pain he caused her, heard her out, and then asked her forgiveness, she may have never fully healed. Neither would he. Both could have been stuck on that day for the rest of their lives. Instead, Miss Columbia graciously said that she has moved on and believes this was her destiny.
Dad, I trust that you will join me in renewing our commitment today to step up to the plate and admit our part when we’ve harmed someone.
Let’s listen to the story that needs to be told by the one we’ve hurt while deciding to drop the defensiveness and really listen.
Let’s allow ourselves to be vulnerable and ask for forgiveness. I believe there’s a sizable number of daughters in this country who are still waiting to hear from their dads these two life-changing words: “I’m sorry.”
Today you can be a hero by choosing to have the difficult yet honest conversation with your daughter that can allow for her heart to heal. If there’s anything to be learned from Steve Harvey, it’s that healing takes place when a father (or father figure) looks into the eyes of the woman he has hurt and asks her to forgive him.
We’re all human and make mistakes. Yet two words healed two women because one man chose to admit his fault and make it right.
TO RECEIVE MY WEEKLY DAD-DAUGHTER FRIDAY POSTS VIA EMAIL, PLEASE SIGN UP HERE!