11. Be honest with yourself. What unpalatable truths might you be evading? When you recognise your shortcomings, do not let that discourage you. In worship together we can find the assurance of God’s love and the strength to go on with renewed courage.
Advices and Queries, Britain Yearly Meeting
How hard it is to be honest, either with others or ourselves. All the little white lies which oil the social machine and prevent it seizing up percolate into our private thoughts and dreams. In lying to others we make fools of ourselves. Sometimes in moments of mad superiority we think we can see the truth another person is missing, But how can we know all the facts? The permutations and combinations are too dazzling and complex to comprehend. In the end, logic seduces us into thinking it is truth and we fall victim to the myth of scientific reason. Human actions and interactions have rarely depended upon either for success.
Be honest with yourself.
I can barely open my eyes in the morning without deceiving myself in some way, petty or gigantic. How else can I get myself out of bed and onto the treadmill routine without making myself believe something that is not, perhaps, entirely true: that it is warm outside; or that if I check the scales I will have lost a few pounds; or that if I don’t turn up for work it will matter? It seems to me that ranged against the deceptions of our everyday lives, we need to keep ourselves cosseted and protected by gentle falsehoods; else what of hope and second chances? It’s how I survive day by day.
What unpalatable truths might you be evading?
Some of my lies may well be idealised as kindnesses to protect me from seeing how insignificant I am, how weak and poor and flawed. But must they all be unpalatable? Are there truths I evade when I fail to recognise God Within, when I miss seeing those parts of me that are human and loveable, sweet, funny, kind, even beautiful? On good days I can recognise my talents, but more often I am inclined to see my faults writ large and in doing so, deceive myself into believing my efforts are not worthwhile. I am not sure if these truths are unpalatable or just conventionally unspeakable.
When you recognise your shortcomings, do not let that discourage you.
Perhaps I am discouraged by my shortcomings and hide behind excuses but only God can know. You see, I can pretend to myself that I recognise faults which are either not true, or else not actually as important as ones I avoid recognising – and all the while feel a rosy glow from facing up to the error of my ways and repenting them. And I will never know.
In worship together we can find the assurance of God’s love and the strength to go on with renewed courage.
All of which degenerates into dangerous double bluff and pointless navel-gazing. What I need to learn is to let God decide and trust Love to help me find my way.
That’s easy then…