For example, MOST people are in jobs, relationships, religious organizations, family settings, social circles, or neighborhoods that keep them from fully expressing their own truth. They might believe something to be true, but don’t want to rock the boat or not go with the flow. They don’t want to become THAT person.
Children are most often truth tellers-until they are taught what’s appropriate to say (believe) and what gets you ahead.
Truth telling requires a constant stepping down the “ladder of success” while clinging to your integrity and remaining capable of engaging others with respect even when you disagree. It’s tough stuff, friends.
Speaking of friends-most truth tellers I know find that their most loyal friends are also truth tellers.
From what I’ve witnessed and experienced-truth tellers can appear to make enemies fast. They spark fear and intimidation in those who have lived their entire adult lives avoiding truth. They threaten the status quo and the comfortable lives we were promised or think we deserve. They make people think. In general, we as a culture-we don’t really like to think much.
Authentic, meaningful truth telling is almost always-ALWAYS-about the common good, the marginalized, the hurting, those suffering and all the hard stuff of this world.
Anything else is simply a version of a truth that benefits only one person or group of people. Shedding light on THAT TRUTH is both painful to self and offensive to others. Most people (myself included) just can’t always gather the strength to persevere. Sometimes it’s just easier not to think.
The great truth tellers feel more like heroes to the masses once they are no longer a threat. Francis of Assisi, Anne Hutchinson, and Martin Luther King Jr. come to mind. While they were alive and present and speaking their strong truths they were just “too much” for most people to handle at the time. Today, I think of Micky Scottbey Jones, Brené Brown, and Richard Rohr who are working out their truth while beautifully facing the suffering that comes with it. I can think of people closer to home too, but I know their suffering first hand-so I won’t.
Truth tellers are completely different than traitors although the two seem to get confused. Telling a truth for the sole purpose of personal gain or to recklessly hurt someone else doesn’t really line itself up with truth telling to me.
Truth telling is not what slips off the end of your tongue or out the end of your fingertips. The truth tellers I know agonize over their truth. It rolls around in their heads and hearts until they can’t contain it anymore. They carefully run it through people with dignity first. They wait until the truth becomes something worth mentioning. They wait until the truth becomes a risk worth taking.
Truth tellers must make decisions with extra thought and care in order to ensure that they protect their ability to continue sharing the truth. This can mean that they are unable to keep their job or are forced to set boundaries that are hard. This gives truth tellers the ability to share their stories openly with the world and with fervor. They are the listeners, the engagers, the peacemakers that help connect the dots and make authentic connection possible for those looking for it.
These truth tellers often suffer alone because they alone were called to carry the burden of their truth. Other times they are surrounded by other truth tellers who provide support and encouragement. The people around them rarely notice the difference.
Truth telling means all the more to a mother and farmer like me. The rights of womanhood, infants, farmers, makers, and struggling communities have become hard to come by-because in the simplicity of who they are-they do not produce what we as society have come to respect and expect.
Silence from a mother and farmer like myself often feels much more respected and expected.
Simply having the privilege of stating this truth-right here, right now-is a reflection of a constant giving away of opportunity in my life. The saying no to “good” things that could have stolen my truth. Thankfully-even better opportunity that serves more people is always around the bend.
I’m forever thankful for the truth tellers in my life. They help me find my truth. They give me the strength to share it.