Lately, I’ve been trying to explain to my 3 year old what it means to tell the truth. Some days it seems like lies are running rampant in this house. And I don’t even know why I bother asking her questions because about half the time, I’m pretty sure she’s lying. We have talked this thing to death, friends. We’ve talked about who our King is, and who it is who tells us lies. We’ve talked about whether Mom & Dad speak truth or lies to her, and it’s like she still doesn’t get that thinking something up in her head or feeling a certain way does not equal truth.
So, for example, David will ask Ellie to stop doing something, say, carrying a large glass object around, and her response will be “BUT MY MOM WANTS ME TO DO THIS! I HAVE TO. I HAVE TO BECAUSE I AM CARRYING IT OVER THERE FOR MY CHILDREN AND MOM LETS ME DO THIS!!!”
No, no I do not let her do this, but she knows a few things about me. 1. I love her. 2. I do let her do a lot of things for herself now that she’s 3. 3. I do encourage her to pretend and to play and to solve problems for herself. SO, I mean, I can see why she thinks that she’s speaking truth, but the truth is, she’s just not.
Ok, so can I be honest? It seems like my 3 year old isn’t alone on this one. I keep hearing people talking about telling the truth, claiming authenticity, or calling themselves “truth tellers,” but all I hear is lies. They are beautiful lies, don’t get me wrong, but they are lies.
If I have to read one more article about how, actually, I am a good enough mom, just the way I am, I am going to throw something at someone. That’s not true. I’m not present to my kids the way I should be, I don’t cook or buy the healthiest food available, I loose my temper a lot. But, guess what? That’s not really the whole truth either, is it? The truth is that the gospel frees me from having to be the best mom/wife/sister/daughter/friend/employee. Because of Jesus, my worth is not in what I own.
This is something we have to get right, brothers and sisters because we sell ourselves short so often, as though God’s greatest hope was that we would feel “okay” about ourselves. It’s not. We sell ourselves short when we settle for these beautiful lies that tell us that really, the best thing we can do for ourselves and for those around us is listen closely to ourselves and then “tell the truth” about who we are and what we want.
My sick and broken heart speaks lies, friends. And so does yours. The further we look into our hearts for answers, the more distorted our idea of what “telling the truth” means will become. I am not first and foremost a mom with a messy house with toddlers who scream at each other who can’t get my shit together to get things done. I’m not primarily someone who has struggled with depression and is dealing with anger and fails a lot of the time. These are things about me. They are real circumstances, but let’s not confuse them with truth.
There’s kind of an awkward trend of a badge of honor for the mom who has it the least together but somehow scrapes together enough time to write about how messed up she is. And, friends, her words might be beautiful and so might her pictures be, but come on, my biggest problem isn’t my messy house or losing my temper sometimes, or even my struggles with depression. And that isn’t your biggest problem either. And it’s not the mommy blogger’s either.
My biggest problem in the world is that I’ve sinned. I’ve offended a holy God. That’s your biggest problem. That’s the world’s biggest problem. When we refuse to acknowledge that, we deprive ourselves of the full and beautiful truth of the gospel.
When we don’t first tell the truth about who we are– not pretty awesome, transcendent beings with hearts full of goodness and truth– how can we ever hope to tell the truth about anything else? If we think that, really, God has given us all the wisdom we need and all we really have to do is some serious heart gazing, then the gospel becomes something extremely self-centered, pithy phrases that just help us to get through our lives. It doesn’t really mean anything to anyone other than us and the only help we have to offer anyone else is “Well, I stared long and hard at my heart and figured that this would make me happy. I hope you will be happy someday, too.”
This isn’t the truth, friends. And we do a disservice to people when we peddle it as such. One of the things I love about the Anglican church is how much actual truth speaking goes on each Sunday. There’s truth in song, there’s truth in the word of God read aloud, there’s truth in the creed and in the prayers and in the litany that we say corporately. Truth all over the place; truth everywhere.
I went into church recently not really wanting to be there. If I were being “true to myself,” I would have just gone straight home after teaching Sunday School. I was sad, friends. Really sad. And I wanted nothing more than to go home and be alone. But I heard the Holy Spirit whisper and I stayed. Do you know why? Because my sick heart didn’t have anything to offer me but lies, and I knew that staying at that service, even if I just sat in my seat the whole time, would be like drinking in the medicine of truth.
Some people ask what drew us to Anglicanism, and I can’t answer for David (but it was possibly me + some of his favorite authors) but for my part? My heart is so full of lies. I lie to myself every day, and I just really need to hear truth. Over and over again. Anglicans seem to be good at telling the truth. The whole truth. About sin and brokenness and fallenness and about redemption and hope and love and the Gospel.
I still left almost right after church was over. I’m not suggesting that we ignore our circumstances or don’t take care of ourselves when we need to. I’m just suggesting that we stop saying we’re telling the truth when we’re not really. I’m suggesting that we quit using our circumstances and our hearts as a compass. I’m asking that you would believe about yourself that the most authentic person you can be is a person who looks like Jesus. I’m not asking you to always feel like looking like Jesus. I’m not even asking you to always look like Jesus. I’m just asking you to believe what you say you believe.
If you believe that God created a good world and that sin broke it and that people, though made in the image of God, are not all that God meant them to be because of it, and that Jesus’ death and resurrection offers you redemption and that you’re being renewed in his image and his likeness and that the same Holy Spirit that raised him from the dead lives in you, and if you really truly believe that God is making all things new, then please, please stop saying that telling the truth means that you look inside your heart for wisdom. Please stop saying that telling the truth is only telling half the story.
Please don’t see my sin and say, “Wow, Linds, you’re being so authentic.” Please challenge me to actually be authentic, to be true to the new person I am being made in Christ. It’s not that we ignore our brokenness or the sin-sickness of our hearts or try to pretend that they are not there. But we hope. We hope in the God who is redeeming all things and making all things new. Rejoicing that even our pride, our anger, our grief, and brokenness are not outside of the realm of his great mercy and grace.