Dr. Andy Pate
The Orange Leader
A couple of weeks ago a woman of my acquaintance (age 45) broke her leg. The story she first told her mother (77 and sickly) about how she broke it was quite different from what really happened.
To her mom the woman’s initial report was, “I stepped off a curb coming out of the grocery store and crashed hard to the concrete.”
“When did that happen?” her mom asked.
“Late yesterday afternoon, just after Six.”
But in a few hours a more accurate version of the breaking-of-the-leg unfolded. The woman had been out with friends and was involved in an automobile accident near midnight. She was taken to the hospital emergency room a little before 1:00 a.m.
Why not the truth the first time? Rather obvious, isn’t It? The woman thought it best not to upset her mother. That’s one reason. Another is, she may have been protecting herself from a severe scolding.
Sigmund Freud might well have called this “twisting” a defense mechanism. We lie for protection, and on occasion, to protect others, so Freud claimed.
We’re human. We manipulate in order not to be found out or to prevent the whole truth from becoming known. Perhaps we’ve used poor judgment? Perhaps we’ve done something we know was morally wrong or shown our weaknesses? Perhaps the whole truth, were it told, would seriously hurt another person, a person unable, for whatever reason, to face disturbing events much less deal with their consequences.
Before we condemn outright the woman who told the broken-leg untruth to her mother, let us remember that her reporting could have gotten much worse. She could have told the same story to many others so often that, at worst, she might have come to believe it herself or, at best, she might have found herself trapped in her repetitions, unable to break free of them.
We mortals do that. In fact, just look or listen around: It’s one of our favorite American pastimes in 2013: to hear something told as true, and to keep on repeating it.
When - all the while, what we’ve been told was One Big Lie.
Sadly, the chain of lying works. If something’s said that we want to be true, we frequently buy it, as they say, “hook, line and sinker.” Like minded others then want to be a link in the chain and they help us perpetuate nonsense that can be, and often is highly destructive.
John informs us in his Gospel that Jesus was quite aware of the tendencies among people in every age group to play loosely with the truth when he said, “You will know the truth and the truth will make your free (John 8:32)” and when he followed that oft-quoted statement with the bold declaration, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:14).”
The Truth that frees us has to be something other than that which we mere mortals represent as such It has to come from a Source more powerful and more insightful and, above all, from a Source that is accurate to the ninth degree.
In faith there is but One Source upon which we depend with certainty - Jesus Christ and his living Holy Spirit.,
The words we read and hear, do they come from Christ? That question alone ought to be at the center of our Christian truth seeking. This I believe.