I was having breakfast in a diner one morning when I noticed a woman intently discussing a situation with her companion. I couldn’t hear the details, but suddenly she said, a little louder and with more emphasis, “truth be known….” Since I have a particular liking for the word "truth" and its often colorful applications and appropriations, it immediately set me to wondering what truth was being made known in that moment. I kept thinking about it after I left the diner and went walking in the woods, ruminating on those very common, even cliché, words and all the different kinds of things that happen when a truth is made known – especially if it has been long unexpressed, repressed or ignored.
Sooner or later, truth will have its way with us. Sometimes it makes itself known slowly and quietly over the course of days, weeks or years. Sometimes it bursts forth epiphanously and joyfully, or scandalously and unwelcomingly. In my own history, I've seen how untold truths in families can fester for years, causing some family members to become estranged, some to be in a perpetual state of anger or illness, and some to act out in extreme and hurtful ways toward him/herself or others. All because of a truth unspoken, a secret harbored, a lie perpetuated.
And if as individuals we are "seeds" of our collective humanity, it isn't a far reach to understand where our societal trends originate. Lots of truths have infamously emerged in the media over years of journalistic and tabloid tell-alls about sexual exploits, power-and-greed mongering, ponzi schemes and other financial frauds and more – and most of them involving elaborate cover-ups sometimes for years.
But when the truth is finally told – does it really “set us free?”
I have observed time and again the interesting dynamics of that famous Biblical phrase, “the truth shall set you free.” The rippling effect of a truth-telling can be vast, sending catalystic (if not cataclysmic) ripples out into our relationships with family, friends and community, and sometimes the world at large. So no, it is not always freedom we feel at a truth’s first revelation. A truth expressed can turn lives and organizations upside down and inside out, wreaking havoc on “life as we knew it” the moment before the truth was told. But while the effect of a truth-telling may initially be one of chaos, sooner or later the transformative gifts of truth emerge if we let them.
However long may be our stubborn or grief-stricken focus on the damage a "truth told" has seemed to create, ultimately it yields an enormous and even miraculous potential for relief, acceptance, closeness, joy and new life. Furthermore, when we let truth have its purifying way with us, it seems to beget some truth in everyone around us. When one person speaks his or her truth, there is a kind of invitation in the air for others to express theirs. And in the end, we discover that it is only the covered over truths and the untruths – the lies – that leave scabbed-over festering wounds. Truth may hurt at first, but it always heals us if we let it.
And here’s a paradoxical step further with “the truth shall set you free.” One of the miracles about truth-telling is that a truth expressed sets truth itself free. For the nature of truth is not static – but fluid. And as soon as we allow a truth to flow and do its healing work, we find that there is another truth just around the bend that has been waiting for the expression and release of that which came before it in order for this new truth to be realized and expressed.
For example, have you ever harbored a thought or feeling about someone, only to realize after you finally expressed it that you suddenly didn’t feel that way anymore? Or you’ve fought and worked for something that at one time you desperately and truly felt and wanted – only to discover when it was finally possible that you didn’t really want it anymore? Something had changed – YOU had changed – and you didn’t know it because you'd been fixated on that old unrequited truth for so long that you had actually outgrown your need or desire for it. Somehow it was only in finally expressing it that you got to see and feel that it was no longer true – and surprise! – a newer, truer truth begins to emerge.
There is much truth-telling to be told in all our lives. Telling and living our truths – and allowing those truths to change with us – is part of the daily wonder of truing up our lives at every level. For truth-telling is about coming out of the closets of our hearts and souls and daring to give wings to what lies within. To express and be more of who we are, and to invite others in our lives to do the same. For the truer we are with ourselves and each other, the truer and more whole we might all become.
So I invite you if you’re so inclined: tell me your own truth-telling story – perhaps a long-harboured truth finally expressed? Or maybe a truth you tried to tell your whole life, but you were not believed…..until finally you were? How did you feel, how did others feel? What/who changed? What ended, what new thing began?
Lover of words & music, mountains and meaning, good friends and food, co-creative timeless talk and the more than meets the eye of everything!
Words are like gates. They can open us to each other's hearts and minds and show us those sacred places we can only go without them.
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