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Spiritual Disciplines: Truth-Telling

To live an authentically truthful life


In one way, during the pandemic, we were forced to wrestle with a reality we had been ignoring: that our bodies, our society, and our ways of living were actually extremely fragile. We were suddenly unable to cover over that truth by being busy or doing more or buying more.

In another way, though, it became a lot easier to hide inside our closed doors and to determine exactly how we wanted to be seen. When the kids started yelling at one another, I just pressed the mute button. If there was a mess to one side of the screen, I turned the computer just a little until it was unseen. If my wrinkles were too obvious, I could change the lighting. Over zoom, I was able to curate my image of myself, my house, and my life.

And more than just facilitating it, zoom deeply reinforces our concern with our self image because, unlike in a standing-next-to-each-other conversation, you can always watch yourself and know exactly how you appear. I try not to, but am I the only one who looks at myself often when I'm talking?

But now is a time for truth-telling. We are emerging from our boxes into the open and are unmasking our faces to be with one another again. When we are standing next to each other, we can't mute ourselves or each other. We can't perfectly adjust our angles and background. We have to learn to be fully ourselves in front of each other again. And, hopefully, we can take that spirit of being our true selves and let that permeate all areas of our lives and carry it on into this still uncertain, but at least more physically together future.

Spiritual Exercises

  1. Choose one of these reflection questions to journal on:

  2. Have you ever been particularly struck by someone's honesty or lack of it? How did that affect you?

  3. When has it cost you to be honest? What was that like for you?

  4. In what ways are you honest or dishonest with your words? Your actions? Your appearances?

  5. When do you use a sliding scale of honesty, exaggeration, or partial truths? Is there ever a situation where not telling the full truth has value?

  6. Notice in a day how many times you are dishonest in some way, where you break a promise, or spread gossip. What do you see about yourself? Where is it hardest for you to tell the truth?

  7. What lies do you tell to yourself? What lies do you allow to take up airtime in your head? What are the truths that God says about you in place of these lies?

  8. When you become aware of having told a lie, apologize, and make amends. Notice how this experience is for you.


O Lord, you have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from far away.

You search out my path and my lying down,

and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,

O Lord, you know it completely.

You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is so high that I cannot attain it. (Psalm 139:1-6)

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