The difference between truth, honesty, and reality
READ TIME: 5 MINUTES
I’m going to be terribly candid right now.
These past few weeks, I haven’t done a good job at my job.
You see, I get emotionally invested in my writing, and when I feel like I need to defend my position, I just do it. I’m an enneagram 8, the Challenger. Challenging & defending & protecting are innate for me.
But that’s not my job!
Right now, my job is as a blogger, which means I should focus my blogs on helping my target audience. However, in the past few weeks, I’ve spent more energy on my not-target audience: defending my viewpoints, trying to change people’s minds, etc.
This morning, armed with coffee and clarity that only a long night’s rest can bring, I realized:
Those aren’t my people!
I’m not writing to them. I’m writing to people who’ve been stirred by the Holy Spirit in a similar way as me! I’m not trying to change people or convince them of my viewpoint. I’m trying to help progress a conversation that must start with God changing hearts.
I don’t care to debate people who are entirely convinced that what they’ve been taught is absolute truth. I don’t care to fight with people who think they’re free thinkers but believe exactly what their parents and institutions have always taught.
I’m providing a sole viewpoint to people seeking alternative ideas to the canned tuna theology we’ve been served for 2000 years.
I’m just the messenger, not the message;
I’m just the messenger, not the originator.
I’m not saying my writing is the gospel truth message from the mouth of God Himself — go ahead and get it tatted on your bicep. Nope. I don’t write truth; I write honesty. I write what I think I hear from God, filtered through my biases: cultural, socio-economic, time and place, familial background, experiences, education level, etc. Oh, and add in my attitude (not an excuse for being rude or too sensitive — just keeping it real), how prideful I’m feeling that day, what else I’m going through in life, etc.
Anyone who claims they only write truth is fooling themselves. All of us think and believe based on our personal perspective, and we’re quite unable to think without bias.
That’s why expressing opinions turns into arguments — we each approach ideas with so many different biases. I’m not above this and frankly nobody is. We each have our own biases. I do. You do. Every person you listen to does: your family, favorite podcaster, Hollywood, the news, friends, spouse — everyone.
How to write knowing your opinion isn’t faultless
…and NOT stay up all night picking apart what you wrote.
I used to really struggle with knowing that what I write is based on my own biases. I asked God to strip off all that foggy context and only let me write when I could communicate the 100% truth. So, I didn’t write anything. After I saw my gift going to pot, I asked Him how I could honor the gift that He gave me without dishonoring His pure truth. His response was something like this:
Don’t write perfectly. Write honestly.
Essentially, if I wait to express an opinion until it is perfectly truthful, I won’t ever express an opinion. But if I present my opinion as my personal viewpoint, then I can write with humility to say, “This is my current viewpoint. Please engage the topic with me.”
Truth, honesty, and reality
I’ve spent a lot of time delineating between truth and reality, but I’ve just recently begun to ponder honesty.
My understanding of truth is that it’s factual and unchanging, even if it’s yet to be confirmed. As a Christian, I believe God is truthful, as are His Words recorded in the Bible. When Jesus was in the grave, the truth was still true: Jesus would soon take his place in Heaven at the right hand of God.
My definition of honesty is sincerity in what I’m feeling or believe to be right. For example, I honestly think my morning coffee is the best way to start my day. Doesn’t mean it is. That’s just how I feel…right now. Honesty can change, but it’s only honest if it’s sincere. An honest mistake is still a mistake — it was just made with sincere intentions. Honesty varies from person to person, because it originates from your own conscience. Another example is that I’ve honestly felt hurt by gossip, even though it wasn’t true.
Then there’s reality — our perception of things. This also varies from person to person and changes with time. I have friends who visit us in Florida every year, and even when it’s 70 degrees outside, it’s a beach day. To me, that’s frigid for swimsuit weather, but compared to their reality of a “real winter”, 70 degrees is a welcome reprieve! Reality is how we perceive outside events. The key is knowing that reality is a finite understanding whereas truth is more of an infinite understanding. When Jesus was in the grave for 3 days, the reality was that he was dead and buried, but that wasn’t the truth.
Truth surpasses honesty and reality, but they each serve a purpose.
I know in my journey toward mental health that denying my honest feelings and my perception of reality doesn’t help. Pretending I’m not feeling hurt because the truth is that “God loves me” — that leads to me shoving feelings down instead of uncovering them.
So I write…
My blogs aren’t perfect truth, but I keep writing, encouraged by the idea of being honest in my messy, sometimes faithful sometimes faithless, often doubting and questioning, journey to know the God of truth. What He says is true, but what I say isn’t. I aim for truthfulness, but only the Spirit of God can transcribe perfect truth to us. What He says is true, and yet we mess up the message more often than not.
And yet, here’s where I am today.
I think and believe based on my honest feelings and my perception of reality. So do you, and maybe we have differing perceptions. But if you’re interested in my sincere thoughts as I investigate varying interpretations of the Bible and how it applies to our real, messy, daily lives, then I’m glad to have you on this journey with me. You’re my target audience!
My target audience
My target audience is the seekers, the pilgrims, the wonderers and wanderers. The ones who experience God’s presence as much on the seashore as in a worship service; on the couch as much as at church. And if you’re still trying to figure out this God thing, I write for you if you want to experience Him everywhere. I write to the ones who think of Doubting Thomas not as faithless; he just knew that Jesus could withstand his real, honest questions. I write to the ones who see, or want to see, the Spirit of God moving in their lives. To the ones who don’t demand a physical king and a physical law but have learned to lean into the nebulous of spirituality.
Thank you for reading and supporting me and this honest work. Feel free to continue the conversation in the comments. Which part of this post resonated with you?