I’m still pondering my previous post about truth-telling. It seems that the resulting comments were about at least two different things:
- Sometimes we tell the truth about ourselves and people reject us.
- Sometimes the truth about ourselves is uncovered by someone else and people reject us.
The truth ultimately sets us free but – depending on how it came to light – it could also make us miserable. Maybe it makes us more miserable if we weren’t the ones who revealed it.
Also, there are secrets (“I take an antidepressant every morning“) and there are secrets (“I‘m still married but sneakily enjoying benefits with someone else.”)
Healing seems to have something to do with how readily we acknowledge what impact our truth has on the other people in our lives. Sometimes our truth even impacts strangers.
We forget about The Layers of consequences.
Personal example: A pastor friend was caught in a years-long relationship with someone who was not his wife. Obviously he deeply hurt his spouse, his kids, his parents, his congregation, and his colleagues. But there were further layers he didn’t acknowledge very well: he hurt me (who officiated at his wedding) and the couples he’d guided through pre-marital counseling (whom he’d reminded firmly what Jesus said about divorce) and the lectures he gave to anyone who would listen (about the “fact” that LBGTQ relationships were unbiblical.) His extra-marital relationship might still be continuing to this day had he not been caught. And yet he wants to move on without acknowledging that the layers of hurt were deep. A conversation between the two of us about the breach in our relationship would have been appreciated but – again – he has “healed and moved on.”
Our actions – especially our not-our-best-selves actions – create many layers of hurt. Until we come to grips with this truth, wholeness is elusive.
In the same way, though, our gracious/generous/loving/hospitable actions create layers of goodness. If an insurance company gets this we can probably get it too. People are watching us.
Even in post-Christendom, people watch clergy. And they notice when we are cranky and impatient and mean, especially when we don’t think anyone is paying attention.
Yes, we are – ourselves – broken and ridiculous. But that’s my point: we need to tell the truth about ourselves, try to do better next time, and seek wholeness. Repentance creates delicious, beautiful layers of goodness.