I am finished writing my first book, entitled Living Truthfully: Discovering the freedom that comes from finding, facing, and following the truth in every area of your life. Below are a few excerpts from the book.
Part I: Introduction
“That God is truth is a core assumption of this book. God is only worth noticing if God is truth and the source of everything that is true. Now when I say everything, I mean everything, not just what we often call ‘spiritual’ truths. In fact, the point of this book is to focus on those truths Christians have often seen as non-spiritual truths. In reality, of course, not only is there no such thing as non-spiritual truth, there is actually no such thing as non-spiritual anything. To divide the world into spiritual and unspiritual is not actually Christian at all.”
Part 2: Talking Truth
Chapter 1 — The Untruthful Life
“A lot of people live in darkness (synonymous spiritually with falsehood, lies, denial, self-deception, bondage, unreality, and untruth). In eighteen years as a pastor, fifteen years as a counselor, and five years as a college professor, I unfortunately get a front row seat to most of the ways people refuse to engage reality. Pastors, perhaps more than most, know what it feels like to have scars on our knees from hours spent praying a) for people who refuse to walk out into the light and therefore seem to actually care less about their lives than we do, and b) for people who sincerely want to live truthfully but have spent so long in darkness that even a hint of light is frankly excruciating for them. (People in both groups are suffering, but only people in the second group know it.) Either way, living untruthfully is ultimately a dead end. To live untruthfully is to constantly betray and neglect ourselves in big ways, for the sake of remaining comfortable in some smaller way.”
Chapter 2 – What Is Truth
“You have probably heard before that a pilot in an airplane will not know whether he is up or down if he is surrounded by clouds and cannot see the ground or the horizon, unless an instrument on the panel tells him which way is up. If that instrument breaks, he is in very, very big trouble. The horizon is truth. It is the harsh reality you will have to deal with if you lose your bearings. When you realize that truth is simply what is (that truth is the same as reality) you realize that there is nothing greater in life to pursue then truth. The fact is, to pursue truth is to pursue reality – a way of living in the world that is consistent with the way things actually are, not the way we dream, desire, or wish for them to be. You cannot make proper decisions if you do not know the truth about your life and your situation.
This means, then, that truth is basic and essential information. In order to make a right decision about something, you may need to possess quite a bit of knowledge, but the very least amount of knowledge you need is accurate knowledge about what is the truth of your situation. That is why our tendency to deceive ourselves, and the ease with which we do this, is a big problem. We simply cannot fly right if we don’t know the truth.”
Part 3 – In Search of Truth
Chapter 3 – Why It’s So Easy to Live Untruthfully
“Despite our basic intelligence and our ability to make wise choices, many of us don’t! In 2006 Daniel Goleman wrote a groundbreaking book called Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. The book explains why sometimes very smart people do very stupid things. I consider myself a pretty smart person and I know I have done some really stupid things. How about you? Does this sound like anyone you know? Very intelligent people, who may be excellent at knowing how to help others, can nevertheless lack the emotional intelligence to be the person they teach others to be. Why is it so hard for us to see ourselves clearly?”
Chapter 4 – The Roles of Fear and Mythology
“Fear is the number one reason why people do not live truthfully. Fear is the most destructive force on earth. Fear keeps people locked up in themselves, and isolated from one another. Fear is the soil where hatred grows, both of self and of others. If you could get 10,000 people into a stadium who are not moving towards their dreams and ask them why, the vast majority would give you an answer that would have fear at its source. Fear paralyzes us.
Another major reason people do not live truthfully is because of their personal mythologies. A personal mythology is a preferred view of yourself that you will cling to at almost any cost. You will ignore all evidence that you may not be the person you cling to in your mythology. You will probably take offense at people who present you with a perspective of yourself that does not fit into your mythology. You will avoid watching TV programs that make it hard for you to continue to believe your mythology. You will avoid people who challenge your mythology. In fact, you will almost build your entire life around the maintenance of your mythology.”
Chapter 5 – How Fear and Mythology Remain Hidden
“Freud, of course, invented the therapy called psychoanalysis, and the purpose of psychoanalysis is to make unconscious things conscious (i.e., to enhance self-awareness). Freud believed that a great deal of what human beings do is motivated by things they are not aware of. Psychoanalysis was the method Freud invented to help bring unconscious things into conscious awareness.
He also maintained that there are parts of us that we don’t want to be conscious of. There are truths about ourselves we do not want to face, or are not yet ready to face, aspects of who we are that, if we knew them, would make us uncomfortable. So our brains have ways of keeping certain things out of our awareness. The problem this presents in living truthfully is obvious: we cannot live truthfully if we do not know what the truth is. Learning that our own brains are constantly and actively attempting to keep the truth from us, and about the methods our brain uses to do this, can help us identify those things when they are going on inside of us. As we identify these things, it will greatly enhance our self-awareness. That will help us know ourselves better and identify the truth better. Once we find the truth, we are in a position to make decisions about whether to face it and follow it.”
Chapter 6 – The Door to Truth
“The electron microscope revolutionized science because it allowed us to see, for the first time, things that had always been hidden from us before. Once we could see these tiny objects, we could deal appropriately with them. Similarly, you will make great advances in your growth as you come to see yourself clearer and clearer. The only way to do this is to somehow come to see things that you currently cannot see. You do this by developing self-awareness. It is a journey that never ends, but one that each person must begin if they are ever going to reach their potential.”
Part 4 – Finding Truth
Chapter 7 – Owning Your Own Crap
“We all have nasty stuff inside, stuff that we don’t want other people to see or know about. Though babies may take pride in their nasty stuff, sometimes flinging it around for the world to see, rational adults try to hide it. However, there are adults who seem to love flinging it around. Some try to pretend that the stuff that comes out of them isn’t theirs. Some people are so covered in their nasty stuff that you can’t find any way of getting close to them without getting it all over you.
All that can come out of us is what is in us to begin with. Understanding this is a prerequisite to finding the truth. Jesus himself addressed this unpleasant stuff, but we haven’t come close to grasping how meaningful it is, perhaps precisely because of its unpleasantness.
Matthew 12:35 (NIV)
35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”
Chapter 8 – What Science Says
“Because we understand truth only in the cerebral cortex, and truth always makes us aware of something a bit unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar always brings at least some fear, you have a very interesting thing that is taking place when you are dealing with truth. Let’s say you have some new aspect of truth revealed to you. It will likely scare you, upset you, or make you angry, and all of this happens before you have been able to process it and think about it. (Remember, the cerebral cortex is both the most powerful and the slowest part of your brain.) So you get that flash of anger, or that wave of fear comes over you, and this happens before you have been able to work your thought through. This is where the danger comes in. If you allow the initial emotion to determine what your action will be, chances are very good that you will take action almost without thinking at all. All that has happened is that your limbic brain felt what it felt and your reptilian brain acted to get you to a place of safety, which involves a quick move back into your old way of thinking. This is what most people do more often than they would care to admit. The problem with doing this habitually, of course, is that to do so is to live most of our lives without using those capacities that make us human!”
Part 5 – Facing Truth
Chapter 9 – Emotions Get Involved
“A huge amount of time can pass between when you find the truth and when you are able to face it. That time is often filled with denial, minimizing, ignoring, and even working like crazy to fix it in a way that is comfortable and does not threaten your mythologies. Giving them up really is that hard. People will often cling to them until they simply cannot take the pain of their lives anymore.
This is one of the reasons why, when the truth hits you in the face, you need to hang in there. You need to take your lumps. The pain that comes with the truth is always born of a realization that you are living falsely, that you are on the wrong path. When you find the truth, you see in that moment who you should be. As you face the truth, you discover who you have been and who, at this moment, you are. The greater the gap between those two things, the more pain there will be.”
Chapter 10 – You May Not Be Facing the Truth If…
What are some signs that perhaps there is truth in your life you have not faced yet? One big sign is anger. If you find anger blazing up in your life, something is going on.
Another way to know if you are not facing truth is if there are things in your life that you simply refuse to talk about or think about.
Another sign that you may not be facing truth somewhere in your life is that people who know and love you keep bringing up something and you refuse to take their counsel seriously.
[Also covers other signs like chronic relationship problems, refusal to accept counsel, overconfidence, and externalizing]
Part 6 – Following Truth
Chapter 11 – Changing Your Life
“Do you have a problem in your life? Look at it carefully. Figure out what’s really going on. Get super honest with yourself. Ask the opinion of someone else who can help you see things you can’t see. Spend whatever time is necessary doing your finding and facing work. After you have done that, you’ll be in a position to fix your problem, and you fix your problem by following the truth.
You don’t fix your problem by running away. You don’t fix your problem by slipping back into your mythologies. You don’t fix your problem by blaming it on somebody else. You don’t fix your problem by wallowing endlessly in the emotion that comes in the facing stage. You don’t fix your problem by pretending it was never really a problem to begin with. You fix it by following truth into a new and better way of living. Usually the truth itself will point the way, if you have done your finding and facing work properly. That is another beautiful thing about the Find, Face, and Follow process. It relies on Truth, which is simply reality. I have devoted a great deal of time to pointing out the reasons why reality is often harder to find than it ought to be, but once you have discovered reality, and faced reality, you should be ready to live according to reality. To live according to reality is to live truthfully, and that, of course, is ultimately what we are concerned about in this book.”
Chapter 12 – Things That Derail Us As We’re Following
One of the main reasons we don’t follow the truth is because we haven’t done our facing work yet. We cannot effectively follow truth until we have faced it, and we cannot face what we have not found.
Another reason people often fail to keep following is because they cannot deal with the consequences of change.
Codependency is a big reason people sometimes stop following, or refuse to follow, truth.
[Also covers discouragement, problems in delaying gratification, failing to change other important areas, and fear of the consequences of change.]
Part 7 – Conclusion
Chapter 13 – The Truthful Life
The Apostle John gives us what I believe is the perfect “means test” for knowing if we are in God. If we are in God, there will be evidence. We will see the mature love of God growing up in us. This comes only from finding, facing, and following truth. It does not come from a creed, from any religious formula, from a mantra or chant, or from any spiritual discipline or technique, other than the discipline to live open to truth – to accept it when it presents itself to us, to identify it as an opportunity to respond to God in that moment, to deal with it emotionally and face up to it, and then to follow what we learn into a new way of living.
Finding Truth. Facing Truth. Following Truth. This is what spiritual/emotional/personal growth always looks like and there is no shortcut.