Several years ago I wrote a novel, Dwelling Places, about an Iowa family that had lost its farm. They had suffered multiple losses, and no two family members dealt with their pain in the same way. The teenage son, Taylor, chose to cope by going Goth; he delved into aspects of death, wore black all the time, listened to harrowing music, and so forth. To some Christians in the family, this was proof that he was in spiritual danger. I won’t give away much of the story by saying that, in the end, Taylor’s ability to stare directly at what frightened him put him in a pretty good place. Out of all the family members, he was possibly the most honest about just how painful and unbearable life had become.
Taylor was wise beyond his years. It takes some of us decades to face life honestly and tell the hardest truths to ourselves. For some reason, religious people are particularly prone to dressing up bad news or pretending that things are better than they really are. We Christians sometimes act as if we must protect God’s reputation by putting a positive spin on everything that happens. This actually puts us in opposition to the Old Testament prophets, Jesus, saints Peter and Paul, and true spiritual leaders through the ages.
We must tell the dark truths—about what we believe, about how we feel, about what has happened to us—so that these truths become mere parts of the story rather than the whole story. Dark truth is shadow, but shadow is not reality in its completeness.
What truths do you tend to avoid or dress up, and why?