I’ve been watching a true crime documentary on Netflix. The newly retained defense lawyer met with the defendant and made a pretty audacious statement. She said: “I am going to find the truth. So, you better not be guilty. Because if you are, I will find out.”
In essence, she was saying, “the truth might destroy you”.
The same is true for our relationships. We don’t say this out loud, because it sounds so counter-intuitive. But we are afraid of the truth. We hide from it. Because we have the very reasonable fear that it could destroy our relationship.
I’m tempted to say the truth is nothing to be afraid of. Just like the defense lawyer is likely to make promises that things will be okay no matter what. But that isn’t really true, is it? The truth is dangerous. It is scandalous and difficult. And it might very well destroy your relationship. Here is how…
Confronted By Truth
Just like the defendant who might be guilty of the crime, if the truth can destroy your relationship, it probably should. This doesn’t mean it’s our enemy. The truth is a friend. A friend who cares enough to tell it like it is. A friend who helps us see the light.
We spend so much time hiding from it because we value our possessions, relationships, and ideas (even if they might be unhealthy) more than we value truth itself. We want the benefits of healthy relationships. And we believe the lie that a false relationship is better than no relationship. So, we build walls to keep the truth out because it might crumble our carefully constructed house of cards.
The first way is if we decide we value falsity more than truth. If we discover truth and chose the lie instead. Or if we let complacency keep us from the truth because we are afraid of what it might reveal. This is a slow poison, a subtle destruction. We might still be physically present, but the relationship is doomed. If we refuse to pursue truth, we’ve shackled the relationship to a lie and it will slowly decay. As we discover truth, we have to decide whether to accept it or not. Opting out is more comfortable.
The other way that truth destroys relationships is by showing us that the relationship is false or unhealthy. If the relationship is not in alignment with truth, we ought to get out of it. This hurts but is actually of benefit to all parties involved. The defendant doesn’t want to go to jail but, if he committed the crime, it is actually the best thing for him. We don’t want to lose our relationships, but if they are unhealthy, it is best to let them go and pursue something more aligned with what is true and good.
The Challenge of Discernment
So, the truth ought to be welcomed into our relationships. If our relationship stands firm in the face truth and is edified by it (even though it might hurt), we will not only be better off; but will be relating in the peace and joy that only come through the difficulty of sharing truth.
The trouble, of course, comes in discerning whether it is destroying our relationship or just our expectations of relationship. Our feelings might tell us that we are failing, but our feelings cannot fully be trusted. Is the truth refining our relationship or breaking it? I leave this to you to discern. There is no easy way.
Truth is dangerous. Pursuing it and all of its complexity is the only way to have healthy relationships. But pursuing it might call us to end unhealthy friendships that are devoid of truth. It’s easier not to get into it too much. Not to ask too many questions. To cling to false hopes and inaccurate perceptions.
It’s easier, but not better. Truth will either destroy your relationship or allow it thrive. There is no middle ground. Truth knows no apathy.