To Tell the Truth
The last time I said to Dan, “I am just telling you the truth,” I was fed up with what he was doing. There is, of course, a place for anger, but in this case, I was not concerned about him. I wanted him to stop his annoying remarks. The problem with “telling the truth” is the presumption that we know the truth and are prepared to offer it. The truth is a sticky wicket and telling it is complicated.
The word, truth, comes from the Old English word “troth.” Truth is relational and a gift to our beloved. We speak truth so that we can be faithful, “troth” full, to the one we love.
There is always some degree of fear when I ask someone to join me in the truth.
I hate conflict, and usually when the truth comes, at least at first, there is disruption. Seldom does anyone say, “Oh thanks, I needed that.” On one hand, I feel self-righteous, and on the other, fearful. No wonder the phrase is triggering.
I find the only way I can tell the truth is if I am faithful to let what truth I tell form me first. At this stage of life, the truth does not always set me free. How I long to return to the joy and wonder I felt at age 21 when the truth did set me free as a new believer in Jesus Christ.
I returned to my parents’ home “a dead girl walking” after a six-week archaeological summer school in the Rocky Mountains where I was raped by a professor. I would have appeared to be fine. I would have never allowed a countenance of discomfort to appear on my face. Nor would any of the sentences I spoke to others have indicated that something was wrong. I was a Houdini at masking sorrow and devastation. (I had lost my ability to ask for help in my early toddler years.)
A week later I was dropped off by a friend after a gathering of high school friends in a nearby neighborhood. My parents met me at the door, and I immediately knew that they had read my diary. The glue of my façade cracked open instantaneously. I was catapulted back into the truth of the night my university advisor entered my tent and raped me. The truth shattered me to the core, but my exterior “self” needed to remain intact to speak to my interrogators.
The process of exposure was brutal. My father pushed me against a wall and called me a slut. My mother, who had never touched me in any moment of suffering, ushered me to my room and shared the gospel with me as if I had never heard it. Indeed, I heard it as if it were brand new.
To this moment I am staggered at what occurred. Now I ponder, “What would have happened if my parents had not found my diary?” I could have spent the rest of my life burying that secret to the point that I would have been suffocated by all the dirt used to cover my ambulatory corpse.
My father didn’t tell the truth, but in calling me a ‘slut,’ he was exposing exactly how I felt. In my mother telling me the truth about Jesus, I began living a whole new reality. How is it I had never heard the truth about the saving grace of Jesus’s death, resurrection, and ascension?
Truth, lies, half-truths, tainted truths, denied, ignored, hidden truths pervade my mind and body. What business do I have telling anyone the truth? My best answer is that I am less apt and able to tell the truth unless the truth has pursued and, in its utterly surprising troth, won me. I am not a truth teller. I am not often fond of the truth. But I do know the truth is wildly, kindly, persistently pursuing me; otherwise, I would be fully comfortable living a conventional lie.
Dan still occasionally annoys me. Sometimes he enjoys provoking me. Other times he is in his odd trance state as he writes, and he forgets to close the front door or leaves the gas burner on. Telling him the truth is less about informing him of his mistakes; instead, it is to be the presence of troth that pursues him with wild, kind, persistent love. I am to be the kind face of truth for him.
Originally published in Red Tent Living on January 2, 2024.