Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Speaking the truth in love

Speaking the truth in love does not mean saying something so nicely that someone will be willing to receive it well. That's not how it works. The truth hurts because all men are liars. Few of us react with measured grace when we're on the receiving end of a truth that causes us pain. Speaking the truth in love means loving someone enough to want them to know the truth, even though it means taking on the pain of the anger they will probably act out.

I've had my mind changed about two very big things in my life, and it really hurt both times.

When confronted with truths I hated, I flared up with caricatures and insults.

When I realized that caricatures and insults were all I had, I wanted to run from the truth and never hear it again. 

When the demands of life would not allow me to avoid the truth, I faked a superior detachment as if it were of too little importance to merit my attention. 

When my conscience pointed out how ashamed I was of my total inability to defend my cherished misbeliefs, I just stayed quiet. When the truth would bump into me, the pain was raw and screaming. 

When someone spoke the truth gently, I considered him a soft-minded ninny whose facile thinking was irrelevant to one so intelligent as myself. When someone spoke the truth pointedly, it was proof that everyone who thought that way was an intolerable jerk whose ideas were invalid on the basis of being held by a holistically bad person.

When I had to live the truth, I hated knowing that I would someday be glad I had. I hated that I was actively betraying myself. I hated that I was going to become what I had not only never wanted to be myself, but had wanted no one to be.

When there was no chance that I would turn back to what truth demanded that I leave, I was still contemptuous of my former enemies for being so much righter than I was, and resentful over what I was working so hard to believe was not really a loss.

Even when I became comfortable and cautiously happy, I was bewildered by the new language I had learned to speak. I understood neither its idioms nor its deep structures. I was confounded when I would discover there was something I was chronically mispronouncing, that my syntax was still garbled, that my lexicon was peppered with errors.

I remember many specific events along the way of both conversions: lightning bolts, epiphanies, puzzles, and throwdowns. There are people I wish I could thank for having helped me, even if it is because they enraged me. There are people to whom I would apologize if I ran into them again (and I do run into them sometimes, and I do apologize).

The jerks, the simple, the cerebral, the zealous, the wise, the patient, the dismissive, the gentle: they all spoke the truth in love, because He who is the Truth is the God who is Love.