“If you will not reveal yourself to others, you cannot reveal yourself to yourself. That does not only mean that you suppress who you are, although it also means that. It means that so much of what you could be will never come forward. …Truth is the light in the darkness.” –Jordan Peterson
“I can’t tell him that!”
“Why not, if it’s the truth?”
I stared at my friend. He had just advised me to be honest about something I knew would hurt my husband and potentially change the nature of our relationship forever. I considered his words carefully and later that night, I told Jon the painful truth.
I’ve talked a lot recently about listening to the still, small voice inside, the one I (perhaps presumptuously) call God, and how God never seems to reveal the five year plan. Instead, He tells us the next right thing, and then the next, and then the next. As E.L. Doctorow once said, it’s like driving at night in the fog. You can only see a small path before you, yet you can make it all the way home that way. But I’m coming to understand that listening for the next right thing is only one part of the equation. There is another, equally important, thing we must do if we are to follow where God leads:
Share our truth.
If it’s true, as I am coming to believe, that God whispers direction to us one step at a time, then hearing and expressing go hand in hand, each requiring the other in order to light our way. After speaking with a friend recently, I was struck by how much time we waste worrying over the future—carefully and exhaustively weighing every option, considering every possibility, and planning every potential outcome, continually fretting over what might be. We can remain frozen this way for years as life, to use my friend’s words, “happens to us.” But if, instead, God wants to lead us one step at a time, then taking those steps require honesty about who we are, what we think, how we feel, and what’s going on in our lives. Otherwise, we remain stagnant; terrified to move for fear of how others might react; unable to follow because we’re not willing to reveal our truest selves, our deepest thoughts, our strongest desires. As I look back through the years, I can see how every moment of significant growth in my life has taken place during a time when I told those around me the truth about what was going on inside, or when someone in my life spoke a difficult truth to me and I was forced to struggle through it. In this way, our truthfulness affects not only our own lives, but also those around us, enabling all to see a bit more clearly. Though not always comfortable, I am coming to believe that the reactions, conversations, and consequences that result from honesty are the very things that make the next step clear.
After sharing the truth with my husband, our relationship DID change. And it’s been hard and scary and frustrating and uncomfortable ever since. It’s also been incredible and amazing and inspiring and wonderful. We’re forging a new path. Together.
“An ethical and evolved life entails telling the truth about oneself and living out that truth.” —Cheryl Strayed
“What you don’t say owns you. What you hide controls you.” —Unknown
“The truth shall set you free.” —Jesus