“Real intimacy always comes in the company of truth.”
I read this in a book the other day. But I knew it to be true even before the author penned it so eloquently. That wasn’t always the case.
If you’d asked me a year or so ago what I thought of truth, I would tell you I was afraid. At the time, I was dating someone who quoted P.C. Hodgell’s “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.” Maybe he meant it in reference to our relationship, or maybe it was just barely breaking through his consciousness. I don’t know, I didn’t especially care to ask. Partly because I was afraid of his answer, but more so because I was afraid of my own. And while it wasn’t meant to be a competition, I was convinced that mine was heavier. Things weren’t going well between us, within us, around us, and I knew somewhere in the recesses of my mind that this illusive “truth” everyone spoke of had consequences.
The truth of the matter (smirk-face) was that things were falling apart, in the unraveling way which you can never quite undo. The helplessness of an inevitable goodbye was our impending reality, and I was willing to avoid anything, everything—even truth—if it meant skipping that kind of ending. Even so, we parted ways, each on our own pursuit of the same thing, except now with routes set to different trajectories. Anyway, that’s not necessary to the story, it’s simply the precursor — my first experience with truth.
You see, the moment you decide you want truth, you realize how very little you know of it. I was peeling my eyes open for something that I wasn’t quite sure even looked or sounded like. In a world where lying is a language of native tongue, it can be difficult to discern the difference. Even so, I was undeterred. Somewhere along the way I met vulnerability.
You can never be fully known unless you are willing to risk. When you’re lost in isolation for a while — whether it’s completely within yourself or while you’re wrapped up in another—it has a way of shaking your identity, the very core of who you are. But sooner than later, you’re stripped of that comfortable shell of solitude and you’re forced into the world again. My mom sent me to a ballet class when I was 3. While all the other pink tutu-clad girls lined up at the barre, I sat in the corner crying and terrified—begging to be brought home. I’m convinced that little almost-ballerina never quite grew up because that was exactly how learning to exist outside of my then (broken) identity was, except when you’re older you have to learn to lace up your own pointe shoes and the dance floor is a hell of a lot bigger.
Reentering life meant meeting new people—remembering what it’s like to be uncomfortable. And that’s where I met bravery. Maybe he came hand in hand with vulnerability, or at least right on her heels. But however they went, they both became my language. Crying is always okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. I’ve learned to not allow hot tears be synonymous with shame. When did we ever learn that lesson, anyway? I’m calling bull. There is nothing more freeing than expressing pain bravely — with a chin held high, because pain is honest and tears can be respected for the same reason.
Vulnerability and Bravery were well acquainted with Truth. But Truth lives in Light, and you can’t get to Light unless you’re willing to catch a train out of Darkness. At this point, you’ll be glad you met Vulnerability and Bravery — they’re the best kind of traveling companions for these sorts of journeys.
And so, I departed. And so must you. You will never know truth if you’re hiding in the dark. Darkness is comfortable — but that’s the danger: it is never meant to be permanent. Darnkess has a way of making things look much better than they are, but it’s blinding, too. Light illuminates, and truth is in the light. Sometimes they’re one in the same, but you have to choose them both, for they are a package deal. You’ll like light better than darkness, I promise you—and I’ll whisper it to you even as you continue to hide there.
Truth brings you into the company of others. Sometimes, people will be afraid of her, just like you were. Be patient with them, it’s never easy to face down your dark parts and not simultaneously want to retreat. Be gracious enough to respect that not everyone is there yet, just like you’re still not all the way there yet. It might hurt, that comes with the territory of Truthtellers. Because the truth of the matter (see what I did there ;) is that he might run. He might run from your honesty, and he might run faster from his own. Vulnerability is dangerous, it hands the keys of who you are to the hands of another — they’re an x variable — unpredictable and an independent entity. But that’s the glory of it. Someday he’ll thank you for being brave enough to do what he couldn’t. Learning a person, whether they are a friend or foe or lover, takes truth. You will never know someone unless you are willing to be your truest self.
Tell the truth. The truth of your favorite band, your favorite item on the menu at that one restaurant downtown, your best joke—even if you’re the one laughing the hardest of all. Tell them the hard things, too. The truth about the meanest thing that boy in middle school said about you, and how you went home and cried in your mom’s arms about it. The truth about your past, the truth about how your parents fight and your brother smokes too much weed and how you can both love and hate them for it. The truth about who you are and the places you’ve come from and the ones you’re afraid you’ll never end up. It doesn’t have to be embellished; it doesn’t have to be edited to sound lofty and admirable. People will see your freedom and they’ll be drawn to you — the way you come out of hiding and are somehow safer for it. The best truth is built upon honesty, shed in tears, rounded out by laughter, exchanged in glances. Truth starts in your bravest heart and then leaps with decisive abandon from your lips.
I can’t say that I’ve found truth in her entire form. I’m flawed, and still learning to live in the tension of honoring both honesty and sensibility. But I do know that truth is something to be embodied, and the best way I’ve found truth is by living it.
My dear, tell the truth. Bring vulnerability and intimacy with you, and be brave the whole entire way.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all (every) sin. | 1 John 1:7