Lately, my kids have been making me think a lot about truth. My two-year-old isn’t always very good at telling the truth. It’s always a little startling when your innocent baby figures out how to lie, but I’ve realized that it actually makes a lot of sense. She doesn’t tell the truth when she doesn’t want something to be true. For example, it’s a struggle getting her to admit to having a dirty diaper. She doesn’t want to be changed, so she pretends that her diaper is clean. Continuing to play is a far more pleasant prospect than having Mommy vigorously wipe smelly stuff off her bum. I don’t really blame her for reimagining reality in cases like this, but still, she has to learn to tell the truth, even when she doesn’t want to.
Just writing that out is a bit of an eye-opener: we have to tell the truth, even if we don’t want it to be true. It’s humbling to realize how often I have to relearn this same lesson. There are all sorts of untruths I tell myself because the reality doesn’t always seem terribly appealing. I bet you can relate to this too. Here are just a few things that come to mind for me:
I deserve a treat for all of my hard work today. “Deserve” is a pretty strong word. There is nothing wrong with rewarding oneself for a job well done, but for me at least, a “treat” usually means junk food. I might be rewarding my taste buds, but I’m punishing the rest of my body. That’s not much of a treat in the long run. On top of that, this kind of thinking typically omits honoring the Lord’s part in all of my successes. I’m not deserving. Not really. I just have the most amazing Heavenly Father helping me out. All the time. That in itself is actually a beautiful reality, but one I manage to ignore far too often.
I don’t have time to read the WORD. False. I do have time. I just choose to spend it doing other things. Things that I somehow deem more important than studying the WORD of the Lord, my God actually speaking to me. As embarrassed as I am to admit it, minister’s wife and all, this is something I really struggle with and continue to work on, and make excuses about.
Love is all we need. Something’s missing here. We absolutely need love and can never have too much, but without truth, love is empty and perverse. I love all sorts of things that I shouldn’t—take my affection for junk food for one. The truth is what guides our loves to be the best and healthiest loves that they can be. But truth can be hard to understand, so it can be awfully tempting to shove the truth in the corner and just focus on the warm and fuzzy feelings that love brings.
I need to buy this because it’s on sale. No, I don’t. I just want it and can’t stand the feeling of missing out on a bargain.
Everyone I love is going to live to a ripe old age and die peacefully in their sleep. The hard truth is that anyone can die at any time. It’s not healthy to fixate on this, we have to live in the present, but it’s also wise to not take our mortality for granted. Of course, life after death is a wonderful truth that can provide comfort in this regard, but we have to accept death and that it is beyond our control before we can accept the peace of believing that we will see our loved ones again in heaven.
If only I had X, then I would be happy. There isn’t one external thing out there that will magically make all of my problems disappear. I just wish it was that simple.
The list goes on. It’s a little shocking to admit how desperately I cling to these falsities in my daily life. It reminds me of the way my infant son clings to his favorite ball even though holding onto it makes it almost impossible for him to crawl. If he would just put the ball down, he would be free to move forward. But he doesn’t want to put it down, so he remains stuck where he is and fusses in frustration. He can’t have both.
And here we land on the truth underlying all of this. Truth and falsity don’t coexist in harmony. They create friction and dis-ease in our lives. We can’t have the lies and continue moving forward in our spiritual growth. Believing we can have both only leaves us feeling frustrated and stuck. Admitting things that aren’t pleasant is so hard, but when we do, we can move forward in our regeneration, which ultimately brings us the most joy and peace. We have to let go of the ball. We have to admit we need a change. And no matter how old we get, we have to keep learning to tell, and accept, what’s really true.