There’s a little girl I know who likes to make up stories. Her nose gets a little scrunched up and her eyes twinkle and the pitch of her voices raises several notches and I know what she’s telling me isn’t grounded in reality. My question for her continues to be “are you speaking truth?” She squirms under my inquiry, and gets out from under my gaze. Truth speaking is hard to do.
I get it, little one. Speaking truth is hard. It is uncomfortable and squirm worthy.
The bush. That is a code a friend and I resort to when we’re struggling with truth speaking. Because beating around the bush is much easier. In fact we’d rather throw some blankets on the bush than make eye contact with it and move in towards each of its prickly branches.
They always say you’ll feel better once you get things out in the open. Once you air your thoughts and opinions that have been stored for far too long everything will be better. I don’t know who ‘they’ are. But I think they might be wrong. Because I suffer from vulnerability hangovers. (And I didn’t even come up with the term.) The sick feeling that comes from revealing too much truth from your inner world. The regret that comes in the middle of a conversation that turned out way messier than you intended. The wishing you hadn’t said anything.
I’d rather not rock the boat, you know? I’d like to stay sailing on glassy seas, steering away from storm clouds and rolling waves – no matter how far off course it takes me. It is comfortable here. Things are going well, snug and safe in my little corner of the boat.
The problem is that the God I follow doesn’t just rock the boat. He asks us to step out of it completely.
I hate that the hardest part of speaking truth is not just getting up the nerve to say it but having to then live with consequences of what’s been spoken.
Because God never promised Peter that when he stepped out of the boat he wouldn’t sink. He never said he would remain unshaken, unmoved. He never said it was just as comfortable as the boat. “Come ahead,” was all He said. And Peter went. He didn’t go perfectly, of course. He flailed and panicked and began sinking. But He was closer to Jesus, and the closer you are to Jesus the closer you are to reality.
I’d rather spend my days with water lapping at my knees and my heart pounding a little and know reality than to sit comfortably in the corner of the boat in my own little world – removed from truth.
(And at the same time I’d also rather be sitting in the corner of this coffee shop writing vaguely about being honest than having a genuine conversation that may result in discomfort.) (We are people of paradoxes.)
Being an INFJ is hard when it comes to speaking the truth. Sure, I can say the easy truths (“You look great today!” “This food was delicious,” “What a beautiful home!”). But anything that is remotely close to criticism (“you might maybe, kind of, a little bit, possibly be doing this wrong,”) I avoid. I stumble, I blunder, I worry about offending. I have to instruct myself as I do the little girl. Speak the truth, Greer. Speak the truth.
I squirm even more than the little one caught fibbing.
You can’t build Christ’s kingdom on lies and pretense. Only the truth will do. -Peter Scazzero Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
It is a choice between living in bondage and living in freedom. Because anytime we choose to gloss over hard truth or skirt around uncomfortable conversations we are choosing to ignore reality. And when reality is absent so also is freedom. We will be most free, most whole, most truly ourselves when we are most truthful.
As it turns out, God has been known to dwell in bushes before. Even if the flames make your cheeks flush and your brow sweat.
No amount of self-preservation, conflict avoidance, or comfort seeking will set us free like speaking the truth will.