My daughter and I argued last night about what she was going to wear to school today. She had forgotten that she was supposed to wear red today to mark the beginning of Red Ribbon week for drug and alcohol awareness. As I reminded her, I pulled a red shirt from her closet, hoping to highlight the obvious choice. Apparently, it wasn’t quite as “obvious” as I had thought.
“I don’t want to wear that, Mom,” she said. “I’ll look hideous.”
“How’s that even possible?” I asked. “It’s a t-shirt. It fits you, and it’s red. You’re a beautiful girl, and this t-shirt can’t possibly make you look hideous.”
“Mommmmm! Ugh!!” she exclaimed with disgust. My exasperated 9-year-old knew we weren’t on the same page. Not even close.
What was the disconnect?
The real truth is that the entire school received the same email our family did. I knew most people would probably read it and respond accordingly, resulting in hundreds of kids wearing red t-shirts, shorts and accessories. They would all be dressed alike. But most importantly, nobody’s beauty would be diminished by a red t-shirt. Beauty doesn’t come from an outfit or color choice.
My daughter didn’t agree.
Her truth was rooted in comparison; what she sees from media and marketing, worrying about what others might think and a resulting lack of confidence based on how she may view herself — perhaps just not good enough. (Sound familiar to anyone reading?)
So, is her truth THE truth?
No. It’s not.
Her truth was based on feelings and fears. Should they be acknowledged? Yes. Should they be given as much weight and credibility as fact? Assuredly not.
Feelings and fears are fickle. They change. A lot. They’re not a good gauge or guide for truth. In fact, feelings and fears are often FALSE. They’re often rooted in opinion (versus fact) and worst-case scenarios that most likely won’t ever happen.
I read somewhere once that fear is like a shadow. It looks huge on the shadow’s side, but the real obstacle blocking the light is often much, much smaller than the shadow.
My daughter’s “truth” was based on what she was afraid of. Her truth wasn’t truth at all, but I understand why she clung to it. Our culture tells people they can have their own truth. I hear the term “your truth” being used frequently these days. It’s an encouragement to believe what you want; to believe that whatever you feel is, in fact, truth. Your truth. If you believe it, it makes it true, and you can own it as such, right?
Just because you want something to be true doesn’t mean it is.
How can we check the foundation of our beliefs? How do we determine if they’re fueled by truth or feelings?
- Consider history and factual data points. Are they in alignment, or do they tell a different story?
- Go to the experts; not people who tell you what you want to hear, but people who have studied or know more about the topic in question.
- Be open to accepting that what’s “popular” isn’t always the truth. Often times, popular coincides with easier; while truth can sometimes be perceived as the harder option.
- Dig deeper. The truth is worth looking for and will not contradict itself. It will prove to be worthy of your belief.
Regarding my daughter, the truth I want her to know through life is that the Lord doesn’t look at the things people look at. People look at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) She is beautiful regardless of what she’s wearing. Her beauty and value come from her heart, and that’s precisely where the Spirit of the Lord resides as well. This is no coincidence.
- It was written over a period of 1,500 years, in three languages, by over 40 authors (most of whom didn’t know each other)…and there is complete unity in their writing.
- Historians and archeologists have repeatedly substantiated its authenticity.
- There are detailed eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life, all of which work in harmony with each other and with history.
- There’s a vast number of prophecies that were both predicted and fulfilled in Biblical text. There are more than 300 alone that pertain to Christ and that came to fruition with incredible, consistent detail.
- In addition to the points above, there’s the evidence of millions of transformed lives, over centuries and across the world who have placed their hope in the truth of the Bible…and their lives are better off because of it.
Isn’t it easier to have hope when we know why we believe what we believe? Doesn’t it help to rest in our beliefs when we can count on their accuracy and dependability? Shouldn’t we be relieved to know that truth doesn’t depend on us? And as such, can there really be such thing as “our” truth…or is the reality that truth is simply truth, all by itself?
I have to ask myself these things every day. I have to counter the images and words that the world constantly shoves in my face. I have to have confidence when I don’t share the popular opinions or the easiest routes. I even have to poke holes in my own self-doubt (and my daughter’s.) I’m so thankful I can.
I’m so thankful to have truth as my cornerstone; the foundation upon which I’ll build my beliefs.
Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. (Isaiah 28:16)
There is safety in things that are tested. Truth is repeatedly tested and repeatedly victorious. It is firm.
That’s worth believing. It worth sharing, too.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life…” (John 14:16)