Thursday, August 6, 2009

Will the Truth Set you Free?

I have no idea who coined the phrase, "the truth shall set you free" which is ironic because I am sure it is some great character from history, some quote I made my students learn. I am known to be an honest person. And while I am always honest, I have found that I don't really have to always be truthful in order to be true in my relationships.

I can be honest with my kids without giving them all the details or backstory about why they can't go out of a store exit without me. Do I really need to tell my little children that someone might grab them and take them and do awful things to them? I can be honest with my friends without having to explain myself or all my reasons for why I can't make dinner next Tuesday. Do they really need me to tell them that I have a haircut that I really don't want to postpone because I so rarely get to sit in a chair for 30 minutes without any other distractions. I think sometimes we feel like we need to explain all the details but like Dr. Phil says when answering kids' questions about sex, "Just answer the question they asked." So when my kids asked me how the baby was going to come out, I simply answered that I was going to the hospital and the doctor would help get the baby out. That was enough for my kids so why scare them with the details of excruciating pain, blood, complications and anatomy that they really don't need or probably want.

I write all this because today I had to really speak the truth in a way that was really hard. Let me start by saying that I did not initiate this conversation. I would have been happy to leave things but was pressed to discuss my decisions. I had to explain to someone in my life that I don't want to have a relationship with them in the way that we once did. I had to say I was willing to start fresh going forward but that I was not going to discuss, dissect and try to repair all the damage that had been done. I had to very clearly state my boundaries and then when pressed justify my choices. It was a really hard conversation because it required not just me being honest, but I had to be truthful in the details. I could not try to sidestep any longer or just answer the question asked because that was leaving to much ambiguity and confusion for the other person. I had to take a stand, draw my line in the sand and then not try to make it all better or help the other person feel good about things.

I walked away from the conversation feeling really awful. I did not feel free. I felt totally burdened by the pain of the other person and the very real pain I feel about the situation. But now a few hours later, I am starting to feel a little sense of relief. Relief, freedom, because I have stated my peace. I have made my boundaries clear. I still dread a bit what the other person might do to try to further engage me. Or how we will next interact when we see one another again. But I know that I have spoken my truth. I have been honest. And I think I was able to do it in love, specifically love for myself. Because what I am learning through this experience is that I matter. What I think, want, feel is important and that I can stand up for myself. I can speak truth.


  1. where's the 'like' button on these blogs??

  2. Jennifer,
    You rock! Loved this blog. I totally get it. I often feel I need to and do give too much info only to wonder why later. I am trying not too!
    I was lassoed in by "And the Truth shall set you free". It was engraved above the front entry at my highschool (the same high school my dad went to!). It was torn down last month and I always thought it would have been cool to have saved it somehow.
    Yes, the truth is always best, not easiest....well, in the long run it is easiest!
    love you Julie Armstrong

  3. Hey Jen,
    You inspire me! Thank you for sharing your experience.