Sometimes when I hear the word “truth” I am thrown back to my childhood living room, perched on the edge of an old brown chair, watching Disney’s Aladdin. I can hear Robin William’s voice (as Genie) saying to Aladdin, “Tell her the TRUTH!”
Telling the truth is such a good life practice and one that I think all people should be encouraged to become pretty accomplished in. However, the thing about truth is, it is different for everyone.
I am not really talking about the blatant, obvious truth like, “Claire, did you hit your sister a minute ago when she took your toy?” I am talking about personal truths. What is true for me is probably not true for you. Truth is a relative.
When discussing theological truths, I find myself getting into all sorts of gray areas with what is true and what isn’t. Everyone’s ideas tend to vary enough to make me doubt that anyone is actually as sane as they try to make themselves out to be.
How do you know what is truth when it comes to issues of faith?
This is a difficult question. Some people base truth on the holy writings like the Bible. If it is in scripture then it is true, simply and positively true. Some people base their truth on the experiential moments when they have shared space with the Divine. Some people base truth on their mentors opinions and values. Whatever your foundation for truth, you probably cling to it for a reason, but have you ever thought to ask yourself why?
When it comes to explaining my personal truth, I find that I lean more towards “anything is possible”. My truth is wrapped in my being comfortable with the mystery of the Divine and I am delighted that my understanding of God is so limited that I can be surprised everyday by just how vast this incredible Creator actually is. I don’t want to claim a truth that blocks out something true of God because I have limited my understanding of him too much.
My truth is founded in openness. Knowing that, I also recognize that for some people this sort of truth is ridiculous and ungrounded. There is a great quote by Rosemary Dougherty on this point, “Keep an open mind, but don’t let your brain fall out.”
I have known people to get into lots of disagreements about truth. Some folks will share their personal truth and will experience another person’s truth as threatening or even just plain wrong.
I believe that the Holy Spirit reveals something of God to everyone all the time. We “get it” at just the right time for us. We really don’t know what God is up to most of the time and this is where a little openness can go a long way.
Perhaps, what we can do is try to stop experiencing so much fear from people's truth and allow ourselves the gift of being honest. “This is where I am right now and what I believe to be true.” “Your truth makes me feel uncomfortable for some reason and I guess I need to spend some time pondering why.” This are really respectful and simple ways to handle issues of the relative truth. Honesty has an “I” voice. It isn’t scary or mean or threatening. This is what I have heard…this is what I have felt…this is what I am thinking… it keeps all the yuck off the "you" you are responding to.
What I'd like to propose is simple:
The truth is that honesty is timeless.