Wednesday, October 13, 2010


"You can't handle the truth!" Colonel Nathan Jessep proclaimed sharply in the tension-laden courtroom.  His face bright red and his brow wet with sweat, Jack Nicholson illustrated a picture easily remembered in the minds of many people. a line and a scene that forever became an iconic pop culture reference as the face and voice of Jack Nicholson shattered the thick air in the world's movie theaters and living rooms.

Jack was insistent that revealing the hard truth about a fellow solder's deadly fate would simply be too much for the outside, civilian world to understand and, therefore, the appropriate punishment (in his eyes) would not be administered and he would find himself court martial-ed.

There was a time in life that I was teetering on the brink of inevitable early death. I weighed in at 399 pounds and was gaining weight thanks to bad metabolism, poor eating habits, and a general lack of exercise. I didn't accept it, however. Sure, day-to-day there were obvious signs I was in bad shape, losing my breath just bending over to tie my shoes or not being able to fit into a movie theater chair comfortably, for instance, but I was heavily (for lack of a better term) in denial. One day I snapped and unleashed some truth about how I felt to my family and, with their help, I started a journey to better myself. College has since taken its toll and seen my gain back some of what I lost (somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 pounds), but I am back on track with losing again.

My point here, though, is that I had held the truth at bay but finally made the decision to face it head-on. To be honest, I was afraid of taking a hard and honest look at myself and seeing me for who I really was. It meant stirring up a lot of pain and having to make disciplined sacrifices and tough choices to change what was true. 

Last night I had a heart-to-heart with a friend and tried to talk my way around a situation she has found herself in. I knew what needed to be said, and I knew she needed to hear some truth, but I was afraid of hurting her feelings or being misunderstood and causing her to get defensive and offended by me. She wasn't falling for it, though, and knew I had more to say. After much pleading on her part and deliberation on mine I found a graceful way to say what was on my mind. And you know what? It made her stop and think. Today she woke up and texted me that what I said had her up all night and gave her something important to think about.

I remember my own sister being immersed in a relationship years ago that wasn't bad, but it wasn't good for her either. Two years of silence eventually gave way to me sharing some truths about the person she was with and who he would be in her life. It was a very short but profound conversation, but it stopped her in her tracks and caused her to make the right decision for her life, a decision that led her to be with the person that I and she feel is the right person for her.

In our dealings and relationships with one another we oftentimes let fear preclude us from standing in a position of honesty and truth. The fact of the matter is that being honest is sometimes really hard and is really hard to take. I know in my own life I had some social/emotional/behavioral "blind spots" that friends or acquaintances of mine were quick to point out, and sometimes there wasn't always a lot of kindness, love, or grace behind those words. But what it did for me was give me the opportunity to digest some truth about myself which led to introspective deliberation and a needed change on my own part.

Some seem to think that Jesus was always a champion of niceness, that His ultimate goal of love was to be nice and make everyone feel good all of the time. And while sometimes that love allowed for Him to be encouraging, healing, and diplomatic, but He was also quick to point out harsher truths if a person or a situation called for it. I am all for being honest with people and letting them know something positive, that's easy, but it's hard to point out something that requires improvement or attention. These days, when it comes to myself, I find it best to be someone who seeks out the truth. This isn't to say that I am completely reliant on and worried about what other people think of me, but I do my best to be as cognizant of my words and actions as possible, and I go to others for affirmation, support, guidance, and accountability when I am in it is anything but smooth sailing in my life.

John 8:32 states that we won't just be set free by the truth, but we will know it. Since the truth exists at all times and is to be known, then I think it does us all best to put on our big-boy/big-girl pants and seek it out instead of waiting for it to blindside us when we might not be prepared for it.

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