What is truth?
It seems easy to comprehend and complex all at once. Easy to grasp but hard to contain. Something I know deep within me, but words don’t seem to do it justice.
As a child, I was raised to tell the truth, to be honest. I was taught that lying is bad and the bonds of trust are broken when lies are brought into a relationship. Bonds that are not easily tethered back together. Lies bring betrayal, for both the person on the receiving end and the one lying.
As much as I was taught not to lie, I observed the world around me and discovered that certain lies are not only accepted but necessary.
I learned that the world can be harsh and cruel to my vulnerable and sensitive heart, my imperfect and flawed self. The world honors the strong and successful, recognizing accomplishments and praising for outer appearances.
I learned the unspoken truth that surviving in this world requires pretending, an altogether different form of lying that is deemed suitable.
The line between the truth and a lie can become convoluted and confusing.
The real me gets submerged beneath a facade, while the world keeps proclaiming that truth is of the utmost importance.
I was taught to be polite and politically correct. To care more about what others thought of me, than what God thought of me. Honestly, I thought God looked at me the same as the world — only as valuable as what I do or look like. I was not taught to be honest about what I thought, how I felt, or ways that I didn’t measure up to these invisible yet pressing standards.
I became scared that if anyone really knew what I thought or felt, or my inadequacy, I would be rejected. But I wanted to be accepted and acknowledged, so I learned to play the game. I learned how to dress the part, strive for success and recognition, and hide my flaws and struggles.
There was a longing inside of me to be known and loved just as I am, there was a desire to speak my mind and not be afraid of what others think, a yearning to be okay with failure and rejection. I lived inside this deep well of loneliness that felt as if the darkness would swallow me whole sometimes. But I kept playing the game because it was all I knew to do to survive. The worst part is that I didn’t even know I was doing all of this, I just thought this is what life is.
I thought that as long as I followed the “rules”, life would be okay. I wanted what the world told me to want.
But my world shattered and my faulty foundation crumbled when I found out my husband had been living his own lie. I found out that he had been unfaithful to me, and everything I thought I knew to be true about our lives became rubble. The man I thought I knew, who I had known for so many years, the father of our children, became a stranger to me. Life unraveled in an instant and I was overwhelmed with pain, confusion, and anger. I regretted that I ever knew him and that I ever gave my heart to him. I replayed my life over and over on those sleepless nights, wondering how I missed it, devastated that this was now my life, and confused how to move forward.
All I could think about was that I had three little girls that I needed to keep it together for, stay strong for them so that their little worlds didn’t shatter also.
I remember going to school to pick them up after I had found out and even though my body felt weary and my heart felt like a black hole, I plastered on a smile. I resumed my role as the great pretender as I watched all the other moms chatting and laughing while they waited for their kiddos. I desperately wanted to cry and crumble to the ground and let people know that I was distraught. But I didn’t. I pushed it all down and played the same game I had always played. The game where I am strong and life is fine and I have a beautiful home and three wonderful children and I don’t want or need anything — especially help.
The truth about my husband was now exposed to me, and the verse that kept playing in my mind was John 8:32,”And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I kept reminding myself that since the truth was out, this must mean freedom for me. But this didn’t feel like freedom. This felt like a crushing weight that was carrying me to the bottom of the ocean. I could see how he felt free now that his secrets were out and he could stop the game of pretending, but I didn’t feel free in the slightest. I felt burdened and shackled with his truth. I felt buried and unsure of who I was or what I wanted to do next. I felt more alone than ever. Who could I turn to and talk about this? Who would be willing to carry this pain and shame with me and not judge me or try to fix me, but climb into this mess with me and hold me? How could I be honest about this and still keep up the charade that I had life figured out? I don’t like to let people come to my house when it’s dirty, much less when the walls have crumbled and the floors are rotting.
In the ten years that have passed since the day of my unmaking, I have been trying to learn who I really am. After a lifetime of pretending, trying to be who others deem acceptable and worthy, it is hard to know who the REAL me is. I have found it difficult to let go of coping mechanisms and unsure what to do with this reservoir of pain. I have put one foot in front of the other, but sometimes I am unsure if I have really gotten anywhere. I have read a lot of books, hoping to gain clarity, but it can be more of a hindrance than a help. I have poured time and energy into reading and learning mostly because I had hoped that what I found could change me. There is still this quiet voice that whispers to me, telling me that if only I was different I would be more loveable and I would not suffer this pain any longer.
That is the heart of the matter, it’s not just the lies I perpetuate by keeping people at arm’s distance, putting on a good front, hiding my doubts and insecurities; it is really about the lies that I believe. These lies are the undercurrent for all my behaviors.
Lies that no one could ever love me, that I’m not good enough, that I have nothing to offer this world, that I am not worthy of love.
I have spent so much time trying to PROVE that I am enough, I am loved, and I have a purpose in this world, however; my belief and my actions haven’t matched up.
IF I truly believed I was worthy of love, then I wouldn’t have to try and prove it. IF I was certain that I am enough just as I am, then I wouldn’t feel the need to try and impress other people.
I have been living a lie because I have believed lies.
The TRUTH is that I am loved and loveable even when I may not feel like it, even when I am hard to love.
The TRUTH is that I am enough even if others don’t see it that way. Even if I don’t measure up the way the world wants me to.
This is the TRUTH that sets me free.
This is the TRUTH that I have to struggle to remind myself continually.
The cross is my reminder that Jesus has deemed me worthy, acceptable, and loveable. His thoughts are the ones that matter the most.
The resurrection is my reminder that my old way of thinking and believing is part of my past, those lies no longer have to define me. I have been given a new life and a new opportunity to think and believe differently. I have been set free.
What had once seemed like the end of my life, was actually the beginning of the real me. Where I once only saw rubble, God saw the material to make something beautiful. God is able to redeem and transform anything, including our shattered lives.
Through Christ I gained a new perspective, a chance to start rewriting all those erroneous scripts inside my head.
An opportunity to start being honest with myself and about myself, owning up to my flaws and letting go of the fear that others may not like me if they really knew me. I’d rather be surrounded by people that love me for who I really am than who I pretend to be.
And that is who Jesus is for me, He loves me, the me that has flaws and imperfections. The me that says and does the wrong things, that can be hurtful and selfish. But He chooses to love me anyway.
That is the truth that sets me free to be who God created me to be!