What Is Truth?

Gathering for dinner one night last week, my Beloved and I were already seated when our four-year-old grandson H. arrived at the table in a rush, clearly hungry. Before lighting in his chair, he reached out to snatch a biscuit from the basket. My Beloved redirected the boy’s hand while asking, “Did you wash your hands?”

H. responded confidently, “Yes.” Then, without hesitation, he snagged a biscuit, turned his head away and in a stage whisper added, “Last week.” (Needless to say, the rest of us had a hearty laugh.)

Because H. had helped me prepare dinner, I knew he had washed during the previous hour … but had played outdoors just minutes before, so his overall cleanliness was doubtful.

As I reflected on his assertion, I had to admit he’d been technically accurate. He hadn’t actually lied when answering his grandfather’s question affirmatively. My Beloved had failed to specify before you came to the table just now.

Children learn early how to skirt the truth. They see deception modeled for them almost everywhere. With their sponge-like absorption of everything they see and hear, it shouldn’t surprise us when they lie with laughable boldness.

There’s a public service announcement (PSA) I occasionally hear on my local radio station. A country music star talks about her struggle with an eating disorder. (I couldn’t track down a weblink for the PSA, sorry.) Whenever that PSA airs, one sentence stands out for me. The musician states: “Let me tell you about my truth.” She briefly explains the deeper issues related to her eating disorder.

Every time I hear her say “my truth,” I cringe. I’m struck by an implicit message: she has her truth, I have my truth and you have yours; each of us lays claim in some mystical way to “my truth.”

Is Truth fungible, a malleable commodity to which each of us may ascribe unique (and perhaps even contradictory) qualities? The musician on this PSA seems to think it is.

Plainly stated, I don’t have a corner on Truth … nor do you … nor does the aforementioned musician. But I’m reminded of an amazing statement Jesus made: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” As I understand his bold claim, he was telling us Truth isn’t a set of facts or beliefs. Truth is a Person.

Today’s sonnet gropes with the notion of self-delusion, those secrets and lies that enable us to sleep at night. We learn to keep secrets and tell lies from an early age, but that can be risky. (As my mom always said, Be sure your sin will find you out. And it does.) But Truth, the Truth embodied in the person of Jesus Christ, is immutable and trustworthy.

secrets, sackcloth and ashes, sin, absolution, deceit, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: Secrets and Lies

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