A few headlines lately have highlighted the power of truth-telling. This got me thinking about times in my life when I’ve had to speak up, despite the discomfort and uncertainty of where that truth might lead. Truth-telling takes various forms; the range is wide. I recall confessing simple wrongdoings to my parents when I was a child… I recall as a young adult how I had to tell my fiancé that, despite loving him, I could not marry him… I recall the time I was obligated to report the pervasive sexual harassment of an institution’s leader… and so on. In all of these examples I encountered some level of suffering before I found the courage to be a truth teller. As author Richard Rohr puts it, “Before the truth sets you free, it tends to make you miserable.”
Most recently the truth-telling I’ve been doing is of the introspective kind, wherein I’m honest with myself about particular issues that confront me. Candor with one’s self seems to be an essential first step toward transformation. By accepting the truth of a situation we can spur the slightest movement of hope toward something better, or at least relief. Once we’re on the other side of the matter, we tend to realize that it was resistance that took up most of our energy. How nice it would be to learn from that expense and skip the denial phase next time. After all, wouldn’t our energy be better used to make peace with what is, or to plan a path forward, or to discover how to integrate the named truth more fully into our lives? Yet denial is persistent in its purpose of holding the truth until we are ready to look at it, until we’ve summoned up enough certainty and bravery to express ourselves.
To be a truth teller can require a lot of us. I’ve found I get the best results when I’ve done the work of knowing who I am, where I stand, and why. This clarity helps anchor me in integrity when doubt or insecurities get stirred. It is also imperative to have the support of a few key people who will listen, who will trust your experience, who will offer you compassion, and who will remind you of the dignity you bear. Keep close those who uphold your unalterable worthiness. If you are to be a truth teller, such loving reinforcement makes all the difference.
Where in your life is there a truth longing to liberate you?
How might you move toward the entry point of inner admission?
Who are the people that stand with you when you use your voice?
May you be inspired!