Denial (truth, prt. 2)

photo by lorrainemd

In my previous post I mentioned that the mission of the church I pastor is to help people find, face, and follow truth.  Pastors and counselors are people who deal in truth.  Of course one of the main causes of so many of the problems people are dealing with is falsehood — failure to find the truth or, having found it, to face up to its reality or, having faced it squarely, failure to follow the truth wherever it might lead.  Often people come into the counseling office because they believe deeply in mythologies about themselves and/or about others.  And since what we believe affects how we feel, and how we feel usually determines how we act, we cannot consistently act in productive and healthy ways if we are acting from false beliefs.

This is why denial is such a powerful concept in psychology. Sigmund Freud called denial a “defense mechanism.”  I call it one of our default ways of coping with reality:  just pretend reality is not real.  Ironically, when we pretend reality is not real, we  then must live as if unreality is real.  (Does it surprise us that there are consequences for this?)  At this moment people you love are living in fantasy, unreality, denial (pick your word).  It may involve their drinking, or eating.  It may involve their approach to managing money.  It may involve their philosophy of life.  It may involve their closest relationships (including their relationship with you).  It may involve their ideas about themselves or God.  We can live on multiple levels of falsehood at a time, and that’s true even if we see ourselves as being dedicated to honesty and authenticity. We can also be firmly dedicated to truth in some areas of our lives, and just as firmly planted in falsehood in other areas.

It is not easy to live in truth.  At least not in the short-run.

Finding Truth (truth, prt 3)

In my last post I wrote about denial — how it seems to be one of the default ways we deal with life.  Today I want to focus on the first part of the growth journey, which is finding the truth.  We cannot move forward in any area of life where we are stuck until we find out what the truth is.  We’ll never get on a budget until we learn that we waste money.  We’ll never work on becoming a better spouse until we learn that we are lacking in some important way.  We will never get our eating under control until we first realize that it has been out of control.

Sometimes truth just dawns on us, almost inexplicably.  One day we wake up and life looks different, the way the surface of a pond looks different when the morning sun refracts off of it, causing it to appear wholly other than how we normally see it.  Other times someone “shares” the truth with us through a comment thinly disguised as a joke, and we get the hint.  Other times the truth isn’t disguised at all, but hits head-on and we feel like the object of a full-scale intervention.

Regardless of how we find truth, it often stings.  As uncomfortable as pre-truth life may have been, we had made a home there.

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Your Truth and My Truth

Look at others and their truth.  Do you like a part of their truth?  Then put it in your world and make it part of your truth.  Don’t like their truth?  Say to yourself, “It’s okay for them but I want something different.”

The point here is to live YOUR life and YOUR truth the way you want to so that you wake up excited and ready for each moment of every day.

There is no right and wrong here.  YOUR truth is just as real as someone else’s truth.  We are all unique to what we desire….

Source: Beth and Lee’s Blog

Vacuous: 1. Devoid of matter; empty. 2. a. Lacking intelligence; stupid. b. Devoid of substance or meaning; inane: a vacuous comment.

The idea above is vacuous, and my main intention here really is definition 2b, although I would say as gently as possible that it fits 1 and 2a as well.  One of the strangest, goofiest, and most backward ideas that is currently accepted in mainstream thought is the notion that you can have one truth and I can have another truth, and yet our two different truths can both be true, even if they completely contradict each other.  Of course in such a strange way of thinking, that obviously false idea can be true by the simple act of my declaring it so!  The problem is that truth itself doesn’t work that way.

“There is no right and wrong here.”

If what you are talking about is actually truth, then there most certainly is a right and wrong.  By definition, truth is about what is right and what is wrong.  If I say, “I have wings and can fly to the moon,” that statement is false because the reality is that I do not have wings and therefore cannot fly anything except maybe a kite.  If I say, “I have three daughters, age 16, 14, and 13, that statement is true because the reality is that there are three girls in this world of that age, who have my last name, and half of my chromosomes.  Falsehood is that which is wrong (does not align with reality), and truth is that which is right (aligns with reality).  If I say I have wings, that is false and I am wrong.  But I am quite right in saying I have three girls – one might even say I am being truthful in making the claim.  So if one is actually talking about truth, one is by definition talking about right and wrong.

If one is not talking about right and wrong, one is not talking about truth but something entirely different, which I suspect is what Beth and Lee are actually doing in their post.

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Regarding truth…

What I’m about to write here is for my own self-indulgent fun. I’ll enjoy parsing through it and if anybody else would find it interesting, much the better.

I was thinking about the 60’s revolution and how it was a response to the influence of Christ. It was a a movement the baby boomers originated in direct response to the conceptions of God, church, Christ, and family held by their parents.

The foundation of that movement was a questioning of propositional truth. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The hippies questioned whether truth itself could even be known and this was the basis for their rebellion against their parents and all that went with it.

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More About Truth

G.K. Chesterton, in his book “Heretics” says we are like people standing under a street lamp who begin to demand, each for his own reason, that the lamp be torn down.  A monk in the crowd suggests that before destruction commences, there should first be a discussion about the value and purpose of light.  But no discussion ensues. The people simply rip the lamp from the pavement.  Upon doing so, they congratulate themselves smugly.  Then they realize they cannot see.  They are in utter darkness.  They do not know how to get home, and cannot find those with whom they came.  They begin wildly clawing in the dark, which turns to panic, and comes to blows – people striking out in the dark, not knowing who they are striking.  Eventually everyone is tired from fighting and it dawns on them one at a time that a bit of light might be useful for various reasons (values and purposes).  Only now the lamp is torn down, and what they might have discussed before under the light, they must now discuss in the dark.

It is not just intellectuals who are interested in truth.  Normal, everyday, non-intellectual people live their lives in the pursuit of truth.  About a thousand times a year, such people come to me and ask the question, “What should I do?”  People who want to know what they should do are people who are seeking truth.  The “right” course of action is the one that aligns with the reality of the situation.  If my daughter has a horrible toothache, and I choose to take her to buy peanut brittle instead of to the dentist, I have made a wrong choice – one that contradicts the reality of the situation.  In light of my daughter’s toothache, what is the right thing to do – what is the thing that corresponds with reality as it actually IS?  Going to the dentist.  Truth is the thing that aligns with reality.

Truth matters to you in the way you live your life moment by moment.  There are realities in your marriage, realities at your job, realities in your personal and emotional life.  Those realities must be understood so that you can make accurate choices based on them.

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