Just past honesty.Posted: October 23, 2008
It’s one thing to be honest and another to, well, go past honesty. Meaning: I state that I am a smelly man, but then i don’t shower- I’ve stopped at being honest. Congrats on identifying myself correctly- but there are 11 more steps to being clean, man.
What drew us to our current church is that it’s the most honest group of church people we could find in Nashville out of the 6 or so churches we visited when we first arrived. Honesty is a big deal. Dishonesty in churches is an issue, i think, here in the middle kingdom… but that’s a sidenote.
“Self-deception is the enemy of wholeness because it prevents us from seeing ourselves as we really are. It covers up our lack of growth in the Spirit of the truthful One and keeps us from coming to terms with our real personalities.” –Brennan Manning, The Importance of Being Foolish.
Self-deception starts with a lie. A lie we make up or that we accept from another. Sometimes we know it’s not truth and we fight and fight until we give in. Sometimes we don’t even know it’s a lie to begin with- we just take it as fact. We absorb it and roll with it. We ask, “How do i fix this thing that’s wrong with me?” (when in fact, there may be nothing wrong to begin with) rather than first asking, “Is this true of me?”
The deception of others becomes our own deception. Dan Rather said, “One of the hardest lessons to learn is that not all people wish you well.” Our view of reality becomes distorted- twisted because we accept the lie. We own the lie and hold it as an assumptive truth by which we gauge and filter other information– further distorting our pictures.
One of the lies I’ve always bought is that “When you hear a lie, you know it’s a lie.” But deception, it turns out, is a lot more deceptive than that. It’s very possible (read: likely) that some of my assumptions (deep, grounded, held-to-be-self-evident ideas) are lies because they were built from the false building materials of other lies.
Sometimes the path to wholeness requires the hard work of tearing down the structures we’ve built- impatience leads to the tedious work of forming patience, criticizing others becomes praising others- with strong effort over time. Sometimes its weirdly easy– we realize we bought a lie and simply by realizing it, the whole false framework comes crashing down. The lie loses its power when it has been exposed and what we have left to work and build with is closer to truth than before.
Books on this lovely topic include: