Teachers, family members, the media, even well-meaning friends seek to define what’s true. Now, more than ever before, it’s important for each of us to decide for ourselves:
- What is your truth? Who are you? and What do you believe?
- How do you find your truth? Does your truth cover every situation? And will it still make sense regardless of your circumstances?
- How do you live your truth in everyday life? How do you spend your time and invest your attention in ways that correspond to your truth?
Truth is the ship you sail your life in. If you don’t decide what gets in the boat, you won’t know when to start bailing.Tweet
What is my truth?
Our culture has a pre-programmed script for this topic. When asked to describe ourselves, we share our profession; where we live/where we grew up; and a few of the things we like to do. In that order!
But is that really who we are? For one, it leaves out the most important people and most meaningful relationships in our lives. Yet even if we included those (wife, mother, etc.), does that describe the core of who we are as individual human beings? And are any of those things permanent, unchangable ways to describe who we were, who we are and who we will be – at all moments of life?
This is my truth. These are the core, unchanging things, that define my reality. These are the things that have stood the test of divorce, cancer and even death:
- I believe in God; the Source and Creator of all things.
- I believe that the Bible reveals God and communicates God’s purpose.
- I believe I was created by God, on purpose, for a purpose.
- I believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of Scripture and of God’s purpose for creation.
- I believe that pursuing my purpose is a lifelong journey. One that leads to peace, temporal fulfillment and eternal joy.
How did I find my truth?
We’re blessed to live in a country that protects our right to think for ourselves; to speak freely; to question authority; and to make our own decisions. How do those rights translate into real life?
As children, we are taught what to believe and told how to see the world. Then, as our brains develop, we begin to question authority. Perhaps we question everything we were taught. But more likely, we challenge only the things which seem to be un-desirable or un-true.
Regardless of your age, there is no question more powerful, more beneficial, than “why?”
Here is a quick illustration of the power of “why?”:
We were taught to trust medical professionals. “Why?” Because they commit decades of their lives to educating themselves; they take an oath to do no harm; and we know, that they know, they will be sued (or lose their licenses) if they are careless.
At 19, I was a passenger in an automobile accident. Doctors told me that I would never finish college; that I would need to be taken care of (24/7) for the rest of my life. I asked, “why?” What needed to be done to return to my life? So I did that next thing and I asked my next “why?”
Fast forward another 19 years… Doctors tell us our baby has a 10% chance of surviving. Can you imagine the heartbreak? Yet even in our pain, we asked “why?” What needed to be done for him to return to his life? And then, he/we did it. And he/we asked the next “why?”
Take a minute now, go back to the previous section, and re-read my truth. Now that you know the power of “why,” you see that I found my truth not (only) because the grown ups in my life told me to trust in God, but because, when I was faced difficult circumstances, I asked “why?” And I kept asking, until the truth, my truth, was revealed to me. Obviously, I’m skipping over the details. But the details (my experiences, my series of “whys” and what happened next), they are my truth. And they won’t help you find yours.
Instead, start asking “why?” Because it is only by asking “why?” that you will find your own truth, that you will see your purpose, that you will know what to do in any situation you find yourself.
If we don’t ask “why,” there is no hope. There is no reason. There is no purpose.
Tips to creating your own truth list:
- Write down all of all the things you believe are true for you.
- Eliminate anything that could possibly be changed – either based on the circumstances you find yourself in; by others’ decisions or actions; or even in light of the difficulties you yourself have faced.
- Identify what is missing – be sure your truth identifies your source; defines who you are as a unique individual; situates you within your context; and describes your purpose (i.e. the ultimate role you play or reason you exist).
- Optional – I found it useful to narrow down my list to as few things as possible. For example, I eliminated “I am female.” While that is true, and while it may describe unchangeable things like my DNA, I don’t experience my biological sex or my gender as integral to all the other truths on my list. Some people may, and that is OK. But speaking for myself and my truth, if God had created me as a male, everything else on my list would still be true. Thus, for me, my biology and my gender are secondary.
How do I live my truth in everyday life?
Now this is the question that brings me to my knees! If I have been honest about my truth, then it should define me: how I react in every situation; what I value; and how I spend my time. But the truth is, comfort and worrying about what other people think are often given higher priority than living with integrity.
How did I realize this? I simply looked at the calendar on my iPhone! If it’s worth my time, it gets a slot on the schedule. But it gets worse! The things that make it onto my schedule are only things I might forget if I don’t have a reminder. Said another way, they are arguably less important to me because they are not so ingrained as to have become part of my routine. Sleeping, eating, letting the dogs out to go potty… they don’t need a slot on the schedule because when I need to do them, they trump even my scheduled time!
If you are wondering what has priority in your life, imagine your day. Play it like a movie in your mind. First, you wake up. What happens next? And what do you do after that? What do you eat? What do you drink? What music do you listen to? Which blogs do you read? Which programs do you stream? What do you do for fun?
Then compare back to your truth. Are you spending your time and investing your attention into things that help you fulfill your purpose? Are they reflections of who you are, what you want and who/where you want to be? If not, why not?
I am in the process of re-orienting my life. Some of the changes I need to make are no-brainers. For example, thinking about, learning about and spending time with God can’t be saved for Sundays! I also realized that I can’t keep filling my eyes, ears, heart and mind with junk, believing it won’t hurt me. If I want good things to come out of me, then it matters what gets put into me.
One of the first changes I made was to stop listening to popular music and other radio programs when I am in the car. Do I really need to know what happened on someone else’s first date? And don’t get me started on some of these songs’ lyrics!
The next step was intentionally replacing those influences with things that align with my values and help me to achieve my purpose. At first, it was listening to Christian music. As time went on, I realized podcasts and YouTube stream just as easily as a song. Why not “study” during my commute? Or worship while I’m working through my morning routine?
Sitting down to write this article is another way to work out my priorities. It forces me to really think about truth; why it matters; and how I can have more of it in my daily life.
I hope this article encouraged you to think about things we don’t usually think about! And I pray that it will meet you on your journey to an even better, more fulfilled life.