Happy Birthday, Mom
“I would rather have you as my Mom for a short time rather than to have never had you at all - even though it means that I would be losing you too soon.”
These were some of the last words I spoke to my Mother, close to 20 years ago. Little did I know how much truth was buried in those words. At the time, I knew her value in part. Twenty years later, I am still growing through the very things she taught and modeled before me for the 21 years before her death.
Recently, my thoughts surrounding current events in my own personal life and the world at large have circled back again and again to the idea of truth. I realize, like so many times before, that my Mom had a unique way of living according to her values in such a way that it made others want to live a more full, valuable, and strong life. Like doors that balance upon several hinges, the values we cling to most fiercely are the linchpins upon which the purposes our lives move and function in the world.
One of my Mom’s linchpins was her regard for truth. Certainly God’s Truth was her pinnacle. Yet, her commitment to living a life that revolved around truth in all its forms made way for accepting the truth of reality, and living with integrity, as well as being honest with others. What my Mom believed about truth - what it sounds like and how it behaves in the world – shaped how I perceive truth in all the arenas in which it appears.
As my thoughts have repeatedly turned towards the idea of truth, I began to jot down the things that resonated within my soul. I often do this when my mind is reeling, or when I feel that the Lord is churning up the soil of my heart, so that I can pray and meditate over these specific ideas and allow God to enlighten my heart towards what He would want me to see. From this process, I realized that several definitive ideas I believe about truth are the result of watching my Mother’s life.
Her birthday would have been this Saturday, so as a tribute to who she was, I would like to share with you some of these ideas surrounding truth:
Truth requires space.
Most of what is true about life requires that we hold what looks like two opposing ideas at the same time. This is difference between “either/or” thinking and “both/and” thinking. This means that we will have to allow our limiting ideas or past thinking patterns to remain pliable in order to make room for ideas that we may not have been exposed to previously, or points of view that may seem oppositional to what we have always known. This is a process of stretching us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Curiosity, compassion, and commitment helps to offset the internal pangs of growth.
Just because truth is hard does not mean that it is wrong.
Truth is hard, especially when it requires us to grow as we grasp it. All things that are real are harder than the things that are fake. Discerning between hard and wrong can forfeit the attainment of what is true. Pushing a wheelbarrow of real bricks will always be harder than pushing a wheelbarrow full of fake bricks. But, if you think it’s hard to haul real bricks, then you should try living in a house made of fake bricks. And that’s the thing with truth – it’s hard at times, but in the long run, it is best. Some of the most dysfunctional, unhappy, dissatisfied, and unbearable people I have ever met are those who have chosen to live their lives not making room for truth in whatever form (internally, externally). Hard does not mean it has to be mean. It just means difficult. Truth is kindness, although a severe one at times. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Which leads me to my next thought:
Truth is worth it.
It’s worth it because it is real and keeps you real within it. Facing the truth about life, relationships, God’s ways, the pang of Life, our own limitations, and the limitations of others keeps us humble. It requires that once we see even a sliver of truth in something, we continue to mine out the depths of what could be there that would be worth holding onto, and discerning what we need to toss aside. Truth is worth the hard work, because we build ourselves out of what we hold onto. If what we have gained in this world is real, we become more solid, honest, trustworthy, and unshakeable. That which is worth having will be worth the effort of attaining it.
Truth does not have to be violent. Because truth is so worthy, we can errantly assume that to fight to attain it must be a violent process. Forceful, yes. Violent, not necessarily. Truth stands. If something is true, it will tell on itself. At some point, Time levels the playing field for us all. The worthless things of this life fade, becoming waste and rot – no matter how tightly we have clung to them in the past. Even Solomon lived long enough to rue the day that he had gathered all wealth and pleasure and knowledge. And those who do not live long enough to witness the frailty of their weakened beliefs run the risk of being destroyed by their own deception. It is true that the first lie we tell is to ourselves. Often, we believe our own lies because we simply want to avoid feeling the limitations of our humanity – collectively and personally. We quickly forget that truth stands because by its very nature it confirms and defends itself. If truth is truth, it will be found out. To that fact we must forcibly hold, so that our wills do not violate our own adherence to the truth. No one has believed the truth by force, which is why the Lord is longsuffering, and draws us with lovingkindness. Truth is hard and kind. Truth is proven true because it is true, not because it has been forced upon others. If truth stands, we can stand in truth, without caving to violence in word and deed.
Truth will win.
God is truth. His Word is truth. God is the truest Truth. God wins. Truth wins. If we want to win in the ways in which winning counts, we will seek truth and not let it go...even when "winning" may feel like "losing" right now. We will work towards the truth of who we are, who God is, what our purpose is, whether we are living in that purpose, while also accepting the world and others as it is, not as we would want it to be. We would encourage honesty in others, which means being witness to some things that we would rather not know, and that will require living true compassion and forgiveness. It will demand humility, and at times being misunderstood, this side of heaven. Yet, we hold on, because the truth is that we are living for another reality, God’s reality. Truth will require integrity – being who we are even when we are alone, doing what is right and for the right reasons, confronting the truth of our own vainglory or sullenness (the growing pangs of truth at work). But, we hold on to truth because truth is God’s. And those who are God’s must worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
Happy Birthday, Mom.