What now God: Part 2

Stories. For several years now, I have used this platform to tell stories. Taken a break for a time. Began again because there were some needing to be told. He placed a desire in me to tell stories. I know that about me. I celebrate that about me.

Our stories make us feel vulnerable. Vulnerability is a hot commodity. It’s been researched. It is said to be what leads to true authenticity. But it also leaves us wide open. When we make a decision to be vulnerable we are open ourselves up to attack. Think about most elite military arsenals who are waiting for their targets to be “vulnerable.” Defenseless. Susceptible. Without a means to protect oneself. Unguarded. Weak.

Enemies can prey on the weak and vulnerable.

I have shared stories. I have been vulnerable. And at times it has left me weak, raw, and open to attack.

In an effort to be authentic, I have traded transparency for safety. For approval. For the need to fit in and do the next big, cool, and accepted thing that seemed to make me appear “vulnerable.”

But I sacrificed me.

I love the author Brene Brown. She studied vulnerability and shame for many years, and this quote resonated with me as I read through many of her thoughts on the subject: “We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing.

We are not enough if we are not doing what they are doing. If our bells, and our whistles do not look and sound like their bells and their whistles. If we begin to do those things because we think we should, or because everyone else is; then we are definitely susceptible. Definitely under attack. Definitely unsafe. We are under attack from becoming someone we were never intended to be.

I mentioned in my last post I stopped doing videos for silly reasons, yet I wonder if they were truly “silly.” Or if the underlying reason was because doing them was just not me. It isn’t in my makeup. It’s not at my core. To sit behind a video screen, watch myself on camera, and monitor how my arms flail, and my eyelids dart about. I don’t like video screens. I am not made for those. That is not authentically me. That bell and whistle is for someone else. Someone else for whom that form of “voice” is made.

Me? My authentic voice is the pen. I write. I have since I was little. I do it all the time now. Notebooks stored in drawers, purses, bags, all with thoughts and words that are all jumbled up in my mind until pen hits paper. It is the place where vulnerability meets my genuine voice. It is the place where vulnerability meets truth. It is the place where vulnerability shares raw, real, and honest stories. It is the place where vulnerability seeks to be courageous, though still very flawed. It is me-nothing but me.

“The core of authenticity is the courage to be imperfect, vulnerable, and to set boundaries.” Brene Brown

So, I told you mental health, the church, and an some initial lessons on boundaries was what you would get-and you will. Just from my authentic place. Pen, paper (well, computer). My voice. My authentic voice. The place where vulnerability meets truth and courage. Not with the bells and whistles that suit everyone else.

That is your first lesson on boundaries (the “meat” comes next week!).

DO NOT apologize for being you. Find your authentic voice, your niche, your bell and whistle, and OWN it.

Your craft will not be like anyone else’s. Your gift will not be like any others. If God intended it to be this way, He would have made us all the same, and we would all be doing and walking in the same purpose. He didn’t. He made us all different. Gave us a variety of gifts, and many ways to use them. Some are for you. Some are not. You do not need to apologize for not using those that are not for you. Ever.

Find and stay around people who encourage you in using your authentic craft.

You will not be for everyone, and that is OK. You do not have to light yourself on fire for them if you are terrified of fire. Those who love you, accept you, and know your dreams and desires will support the unique ways in which you choose to use your voice. Allow them to be your cheerleaders and your guiding lights. You remain light and love to those others, while staying authentic to who you are!

Just a voice

I stopped. Felt silenced again. And am now using my voice to begin again.

Read, or even listen to hear why “Just A Voice.”

Ever felt like you had no voice? Or you spoke out, spoke your truth and were then silenced? Some of us, more than others. Some maybe not at all.

So why, “Just a Voice?” Well, no one is just anything. Not just a mom. Just a custodian. Whatever you want to add here. And though you may have one voice-you have a unique voice. A voice that needs to be heard. That can reach the heart of one person that needs to hear truth. Honestly. From a real place. Without fluff. Bells. Whistles.

That’s what you will hear. No fluff. No bells. No whistles. No extras. Just a writer. With a pen. Some paper. Her Bible. The Word of God. A microphone.

Just a voice. But a unique one. To whom God has given something to say. A straight-up voice, speaking truth about Him in your mess and your beautiful.

It is what it is

The phrase in the picture above. It’s one of my favorites. Coined by my bestie and I to remind ourselves to not worry over things we can’t control. It has carried us through tough things. Even trivial nuisances. I even have a bracelet to commemorate our adoption of the phrase.

However, I heard in a sermon on-line in the past not to say the phrase. Not to use it at all. Like…what???

But it’s my favorite. What do you mean, don’t say it?

For a while I felt a bit convicted about it. Caught myself every time it came out of my mouth. Stopped wearing that bracelet.

But then I started therapy. Started working on acceptance. Of myself. Of life in general. It’s ebbs and flows. What God allows, and what He allows to remain a mystery. What He controls. What He gives me the power to control. What He allows to remain, be. What for Him just “is.”

And I realized “it is what it is.” Most things about this life are simply that.

It’s the hard, straight-up, honest truth.

People don’t like me. “It is what it is.” I can stress over it. Mold myself to fit into boxes He never wanted me to fit into. Or I can accept the fact that some people just won’t like me. Just never will, and be OK with it. I like me. And so does He.

People disappoint. “It is what it is.” We are flawed humans. We hurt. It’s a part of our sin-filled nature. A manifestation of the fall. I can sit and wallow in the hurt, or I can forgive and move on. Create better boundaries, and hope I don’t get hurt in the same way again. Learn from it, so that I don’t dare do the same to anyone else.

Change will come. Both good and bad. “It is what it is.” Some change I will like and I will embrace with open arms. Other change I won’t like so much, and I will fight like crazy to avoid. But fighting won’t keep change from coming. Avoiding won’t keep change from coming. It still comes.

Life has ups and downs. It comes with some worries. Some big. Some small. “It is what it is.” It’s the price paid for living until we see the promised land. I can either wallow in worry endlessly, or I can relish in the fact that there isn’t a worry or a trial He has not seen me through. Even if some have been harder than others.

“It is what it is.”

I am not accepting defeat here. I am not laying down my flag and saying that life has no meaning. No purpose. Or that suffering will always be this way (though the Bible does tell us we will have suffering here….).

What I am saying is, for me…I am accepting life as it comes. I can go through it in a constant state of panic, defeat, or sadness. Or I can let life ebb and flow as it will. I can let God handle things as He will anyway.

It is what it is, because He is what He is.

Just buy the coffee

There are days I wonder if anyone cares to notice. Cares to notice that there is a world past the one they live in. Cares that the person in front of them with the plastered on smile. With that “fake face” on, as I call it, is really just dying to go home and pretend the outside world and all it’s demands don’t exist.

I care. Because I am that person on too many days to count.

I wonder if I’m seen. Or if anyone will care to see past the small scowl I may have while walking into the church parking lot…because “fake face” isn’t working this morning. Because I am coming in this morning after yelling at my kids.

Because that heated discussion now continues in the church cafe with no one caring to notice. Or so it seems.

Because after months of caring for the least of these, I was now sitting across from someone who was telling me I still wasn’t trusted. Why? I couldn’t deliver promises I knew I just couldn’t keep.

Because I now sat, knowing I had to “fake face” my way through something I had to hide for over a year. Not say anything. Sit back and stay silent. Again.

There have been a number of days with small instances like this, but on this day I went home a ball of bitterness, anger, and loads of regrets. I exploded on anyone and everyone in sight.

The next day. I couldn’t get out of bed. My body had just given up. I was tired of fighting Satan. I was sick from fighting him, and all his adversaries. Would anyone have known this? No. More than likely, no.

Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others. 1 Corinthian 10:24, NLT

Really, we all look past the hurting. The down-trodden. The sullen. The heartbroken. Because we are focused on our own good. We all do it.

But what if we just bought someone a coffee? What exactly do I mean?

Well, after that battle with my anger. Satan. And my self-professed sabbath, I was determined to have a good day after.

But then the dog wet on the carpet. I couldn’t do anything with my hair. I got stuck in traffic. And I was late for work…again. Small things, but all things to keep from me focusing on the good.

But then someone bought my coffee.

It seemed so simple.

A stranger. In front of me in Starbucks (because I’m never too late for Starbucks), and the sweet sound of- “The person in front of you paid for your drink.”

The person in front of me.

I’m just a random stranger in a coffee drive-through.

Or was I?

No. I was an opportunity to be seen. For someone to look outside themselves, and be kind. Do good.

It doesn’t happen often. This looking outside ourselves. This seeing. The going outside of one’s own world to brighten someone else’s.

With a coffee.

Case in point…

Later, the devil must have decided he wasn’t going to take defeat lightly. He got at my head again. Started nagging me. In the mirror. Because that’s where he tries to get at many of us. I looked down and noticed you could see through my dress. Though no one had bothered to tell me. They commented on said dress, but never helped a girl out.

But I remembered this. Though right now…I could only see my underpants, and thought all kinds of things. And wondered what others thought, you know-cuz Satan; I remembered this: someone was kind enough to buy my coffee.

So, moral of this story:

Never, EVER let a fellow woman walk around with her unmentionables showing. It’s ok to pull her to the side and whisper it in her ear. Please! Help a girl out!

Do some good, and just buy someone a coffee. It may just make someone feel a little bit more seen.

And you’ll be looking past yourself to do someone else some good.

The Battle: Part 1

Tossing. Turning. Up. Down.

This was the position of my body through the night, but also my head. Awake for 3 hours while the devil wreaked havoc on my brain. For 3 solid hours he attacked my purpose. My integrity. All my regrets. He tapped into all the things that made me feel inadequate, useless, and less than.

“Nothing special. Worthless. Stupid. A fraud. Not worth listening to. Voiceless.”

For 3 solid hours.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Spiritual warfare is real. Wrestling matches with the devil are inevitable when you are one who walks with God, especially when you believe you heard Him, but for whatever reason He has now become silent.

I was in the place where God’s call on my life had been the loudest. I knew for certain what He wanted me to do. And then He didn’t open the doors to make it happen. He placed roadblock after roadblock in my way instead.

So, it’s certainly no coincidence (because I don’t believe in them) that on the first night in this very same place, the devil used this to attempt to devour me. He used the fact that I had not done what I thought God had called me to do to wage an all out assault on my body, mind, and spirit.

Guilt. Shame. Regret. Recounting and bringing up every wrong turn taken. Every chapter still unwritten. All the purpose still not seen. Until I started to believe the lies. “You are nothing special. You won’t do anything that matters. Even God left you. Even He isn’t listening.”

The devil started the battle and I let him beat me almost senseless for 3 solid hours. Until I finally said: “No more.”

I went to war.

In a cabin room, in the middle of nowhere, I turned on my lamp, pulled out my pen and Bible and disputed the devil. Silenced his voice with God’s Word.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10,17

My weapons told me and Satan that I was not inadequate, but that God would fill my inadequacies with His strength (2 Corinthians 12:10).

That I wasn’t worthless, because He counted me more special and worthy than even the birds he had given flight (Matthew 10:31).

And though I may not be doing what He originally called me to do, when He spoke to me in this place, He was most certainly with me, and was calling me to greater, simply through my obedience (Romans 8:28).

The devil may have started the battle, but my God…He will always win the war.

Note: I would like to think Satan stopped toying with me after this night, but not so. Come back for Part 2 of this story tomorrow!

You can run…but you can’t hide

Rocks. I mentioned some of them in my last post. Those I threw into the ocean of surrender. And those I threw at cars when younger.

Yes. My brother and I were often bored on our little street growing up. If we were not yelling across the street for our cousins to come out and play, we would often pick up small rocks and throw them at cars. Just the tires. Or that was always our intention.

Want to know what happened when a rock was thrown where it wasn’t intended?

We hid. Why?

Because what was intended to be thrown at a tire, ended up on a windshield. And when those brake lights came on, and that car stopped? We ran. We hid.

Hoping if we hid long enough. Far away enough. We wouldn’t be found out.

Sounds like another story I know.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” Genesis 3:8-10, NLT

They felt naked. Exposed. They ran and hid. Hoping God didn’t see. God wouldn’t know. Wouldn’t find out.

But we can’t hide from God.

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. Luke 12:2, NIV

God sees it. He sees our comings and goings. He knows our thoughts, and though we may run, hide, hope we will not be found out-God knows.

He knows the thing we do behind closed doors we hope no one ever finds out. He knows the words we say to ourselves, and the thoughts that fill our heads. He knows the ways we have hurt others, even if we try to forget. He knows when we talk one way, and live another. He knows the things we do in the dark.

He knows.

He also knows our secret pains. Our deepest hurts. Our hearts desire. Our struggles. Those other things we hide.

He knows and He wants us to come out of hiding.

Not blame the “other,” as the first woman and man did, but confess what we have done. Our actions. Our sins. Our transgression. Our hurts. All the things we hope people don’t know.

He knows, and He still wants to give us His love. He wants us to run to him, instead of away.

And when we do, when we come out of hiding, we discover what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 121:

He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. Psalm 121:3, 7-8, NLT

You can’t hide from Him, and He won’t hide from you. Just as he knows the things you hope to keep hidden, if you seek His face and His salvation, He will walk with you daily. Protecting you. Keeping you from harm.

Are you ready to come out of hiding? Stop running? Stop pretending?

Stop hiding, and run to Him.

Making peace with the Proverbs 31 woman

I have always had a love/hate relationship with the Proverbs 31 woman. I had a desire to be this Biblical gold standard, but then at other times, it seemed to be another standard I could just never live up to. I mean, really. Come on. She finds wool and flax, and spins it (v 13); she plants a vineyard (v 16); and she makes her own bedspreads (v 22). I don’t do any of this!

I decided to turn my love/hate relationship into one of understanding.

Who is she? And why is there an entire chapter devoted to her in the Bible? The last chapter of Proverbs, in fact; when so many others have focused on a different type of woman-an evil, manipulative, promiscuous, and adulterous woman. One who uses her beauty to deceive and lure.

Maybe because she is in fact the total opposite of those described in Chapters 5, 6, and 7. One closer to God. She is more than a woman who is “bitter poison” (5:4), or “cares nothing about the path of life” (5:6).

She honors God. Loves God. Does His will. Seeks Him first.

The writer of this well-versed chapter makes this difference known in the very first verses of Chapter 31. According to the author (King Solomon…who actually needed this advice), King Lemuel was actually given this advice from his mother: “Don’t dilute your strength on fortune-hunting women, promiscuous women who shipwreck leaders.” Proverbs 31:3, MSG. Those chronicled in those earlier chapters; those that bring destruction. Momma goes on to describe what kind of woman she desires for her boy.

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:10-12, NLT

Virtuous. Other translations describe her as noble. In other words, righteous. Good. Honest. Upright.

And she isn’t just trusted and honored by her husband. But most importantly-God.

Momma wanted the King to find him a godly woman. One of integrity. Honesty. With strong moral character.

One who was the same in secret as she was in public.

Our Heavenly husband desires this as well.

If you look back to those other chapters, those women (and ladies…let’s not be remiss to realize that men can be these things, too. This isn’t just for the ladies)…what do we find? Worldly qualities. Things folks desire simply from seeing, hearing, and trusting things other than one’s character. “Words like honey.” (Proverbs 5:4). “Lustful beauty and coy glances meant to seduce” (Proverbs 6:25).

The P31 woman is much more than looks, charm or words. She walks with God, and she mirrors His ways. When she speaks she doesn’t speak words to deceive or beguile. She speaks words of praise. Encouragement. Truth in love. She is a woman of integrity, and God has confidence and trust in her decisions, because they match the truth she reads. The life she lives, and the way she speaks.

She desires good for everyone. Not destruction. Most of all, she desires God.

And she desires Him for others, too.

I used to hate her, but now I love her. I used to want to be anything BUT her, but now she’s all I want to be.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Proverbs 31:25-26, 30

That’s a godly woman. A woman of truth and integrity. A woman I long to be.

Note: Now that I have made peace with the Proverbs 31 woman, and continue to find peace with myself, I have some ways for you to do the same. Come back this weekend for an exciting announcement!

“I’m fine.” But is that the truth?

I wrote a post recently about truth. In it I shared the importance of telling the truth to those we love. As I thought more after I posted it, and after I reflected on truth some more in the passing days, I thought about this: Are we telling the truth to ourselves? What about the truth of what we feel inside? Are we sharing this? And what would happen if we did? Would we be accepted? Or shamed?

So we hold back the truth. We lie.

Lie number one you’re supposed to have it all together
And when they ask how you’re doing
Just smile and tell them, “Never better”
(Matthew West, Truth Be Told)

Put on a happy face. Pretend that before you got here. Clocked in. Walked on stage. Came down to dinner. Greeted your family. Your co-workers. Your friends. That you were not just crying on your bathroom floor. Or just thinking how worthless you were. Had a fight with your wife. Got bad news from the doctor. Or had someone leave you.

Put on that happy face. Pretend it’s all good. Smile. Look pretty. Happy. Even if inside you are anything but.

Lie number 2 everybody’s life is perfect except yours
So keep your messes and your wounds
And your secrets safe with you behind closed doors

Perfection is not the truth. Yet we look at the filtered lives of others and assume theirs is just that-perfect. And when ours doesn’t measure up to that, we hide our pain. We hide our mess. We filter our lives to draw some type of comparison. None of it is the truth.

Truth be told…none of us have it all together. No life is perfect. Many filter out the bad stuff so you only see what is good.

Truth be told. We lie about the scars we hide because we are afraid of what people will think. That once people know what hides within they will run and hide from us. That if others see our brokenness, then we will be found out, shamed, criticized, and shunned. So we continue our farce. It just seems safer there.

What if we admitted we are not fine? That we were sad. Bitter. Grieving. Wrestled with doubt. Wondered about our purpose. What if we told each other the truth?

What if we put away our “fake faces,” our prettied up lives that aren’t real and are a facade, and shared what makes us so not fine?

Truth be told? We’d probably be a bit more “fine” than we are now. Feel a bit more accepted. Perhaps a little less broken.

Think it’s time to tell each other the truth?

Dandelions and Jesus

My 7th year. I am coming to the end of my 7th year of this counseling youth gig. Of stepping inside schools to hopefully provide safe space for those that just need a breath of fresh air. A minute away from pressure. Someone to guide and direct them to share and express their feelings in a way that is healthy.

For the first couple years, I hid God while in those schools. Hid my Bible verse tattoos. Hid my Bible. I was scared to mention His name. Mention anything related to Him because well, I walk the halls of public schools. That is a “no-no” in these halls. The one year I did shed the long-sleeve shirts, and left my Bible in plain view? Well, that was a year filled with strife and battles. Pain. Heartache. Opposition. One I will never forget.

But…I don’t hide Him anymore.

While I don’t walk the halls thumping people over the head with a Bible, when I have an office, I still keep a Bible in it. I still pray daily before each session with each client. I still wear my cross and my Bible verse tattoo out in the open. I don’t hide, but I don’t shout it from the rooftops. Public school, remember?

So, I have found it interesting that even though I never say His name, these are the conversations I seem to be having week in and week out?

“If I wish on this dandelion do you think God will hear me?” This is the question I was asked as we went on our weekly “walk and talk.” Originally, I was surprised by the question. He had never mentioned God in our conversations before, and neither had I; so why now? And how did he know I was safe?

And I realized, I never had to mention Him by name.

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6

He knew to mention God because I had shown God to him. Through my actions. I never had to say a single word about Him, I simply had to show up and be like Jesus in each and every encounter on those walks.

How? Quite simple, really. I was known by my fruit (Matthew 7:16). The ones mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Those of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I never had to say one word about the Bible. Never had to mention Jesus by name. I just had to be like Him, and people saw Him in me.

This teen, though too cool for school most days. Angry, yelling and ready to yell back at any adult most days. Taller and much better at basketball than me, wasn’t too cool that day to stop and make wishes on dandelions. He also wasn’t too cool to ask tough questions about God, or even talk about him at school.

Why? Because someone had been patient. Someone had been kind. Someone had been gentle with their words. Shown self-control in their responses when he was upset.

Someone was Jesus.

I have had many conversations about Jesus prior to this day. I don’t tell people in my secular role that I am a pastor. Once they find out they often treat me differently, or are more guarded. I simply try each day to be Jesus with skin on as I walk into a session with each person who is sitting with me. Whether wishing on dandelions, shooting baskets, or playing a game. I try to be an example of Him everywhere I go.

Some may have tried to diminish that light before, but like dandelions-the hard to kill weed-the light can survive and thrive in the most hard to reach places. It grows in conditions that seem unfathomable (even out of concrete sidewalks), and it’s hard to miss their bright yellow blooms, or their dry seed heads in an open field. It’s hard not to want to pick one up and make a dandelion wish.

It’s hard not to notice the light of Jesus, when you are displaying His fruit.

WWJD: Just tell the truth already

Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 1 Corinthians 13:6, NLT

Have you known someone, then found out later that they hid things about themselves? Left you wondering if they were really who they seemed to be? Why they didn’t think you could hold space for their truth?

Or maybe you were the one hiding the truth. Maybe you were hiding the truth about a situation because you wanted to protect the parties involved. Thought telling the whole story would protect the ones you loved from getting hurt. Or even protect you from the consequences. Protect you from the hurt. From damage.

Does anything good come from withholding the truth?

The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Luke 12:2, NLT

Well, God’s Word says in Proverbs 19:9 that the one who hides the truth will get caught, and that all secrets will be known; and from my own experience-His Word holds true.

Let me share the quickest version I can of a story for you skeptics.

My view was different. My methods for moving people towards change are different, and sometimes for that, I don’t see eye to eye with people. In working with kids, one thing I have learned is that not one is to be treated in my space the exact same. Sure, there are treatment plans that are written with the same language, but one method I may use with one, isn’t going to work in the next session with another. I also know that treatment plans are, well….”plans.” Plans are usually wrecked when working with kids. Fluid. And each session I have with one, is just that-fluid. In counseling-plans are for insurance billing and goal-setting. I am for the client.

This is why I don’t often see eye to eye with everyone. If I don’t think it will help the mental health of my client, I won’t do it. But, I haven’t always had the luxury of telling this truth, or to the other parties involved. And it was for a time brutal. In my desire to protect, I didn’t reveal all that occurred (nor, will I here-it could fill a book). The withholding. The hiding. It bred anger and bitterness. That was outwardly expressed. Until I finally just told the truth.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32, NLT

Healing began once the truth was told. It wasn’t anything I could really explain. But change occurred. God breathes life into relationships when truth is revealed in kindness and love, only for the purpose of mending and healing.

I haven’t always been an example of this since that time, but it’s an example I try to be each time I think back to that time. “Always. Always be an example of truth. Even if it’s messy. Even if it hurts.”

Need a further reference for how hiding the truth is the opposite of love? In 1992, the movie A Few Good Men became a box office hit. Starring Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson, and many others, it told the story of two lawyers defending two Marines charged with the murder of a fellow Marine who had fell out of favor with the others, mainly for breaking the chain of command, reporting inappropriate actions, and requesting a transfer. The murder had reportedly been ordered by the commanding Colonel, played by Jack Nicholson.

Two men. Two very different truths. One truth is based on a code of honor, dignity, and what is believed to be right from a governing force or institution. The other truth? Based on common character, integrity, truth, justice, and beliefs about what is right and fair provided by the general preservation of lives. One was searching for the truth. One was hiding it.

In the movie’s famous interrogation scene comes the most remembered line from Nicholson, “You can’t handle the truth!” Right before admitting the cold-hard truth.

It actually sounds a lot like my story…without the murder and court trial.

It’s common. We lie. We withhold the details because we can’t handle the truth. We can’t handle the consequences that the truth will create. The feelings. The ways in which the truth will affect others.

But the truth is freeing. The truth is necessary. The truth is healing. Speaking the truth is not done in an effort to limit or to judge. It is done to create change that can build character, dismantle oppression, address injustice, protect others from future hurt, teach others how to stand up in the future, and build integrity.

We teach when we reveal truth. We stand for something when we reveal truth.

We love when we reveal truth.