"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." - John 8:32
I am not a Christian, but that doesn't mean I don't see the wisdom of these words. The truth, whatever it is, does set you free.
To follow truth is often to follow a sorrowful and difficult path. Finding the truth can be difficult. It's not easy declaring the truth, or sticking to the truth. Truth is hard, uncompromising. It opens one's eyes to all the faults of the world, and to the faults of the ones that you love. It opens one's heart to betrayal, and hurt.
Lies, on the other hand, are seductive and easy. They smooth the path, tuck away inconvenient problems from the light of day. When someone has betrayed and hurt you, it's often easier to believe their lies than to listen to the cold, hard truth. It's easier to believe that they didn't lie at all, that everyone else lied instead.
People build elaborate lives around lies. They lie to their friends, family, acquaintances. They even lie to themselves.
Yet, deep down, in the recesses of their hearts, the truth eats at them. It eats at their souls, and devours all the trust they have in other people. How can one trust another, when one lies? It carves away their self esteem. It destroys relationships.
I'm not the greatest person on the planet. I am just human. I have many problems, and I often wonder why my friends and family put up with me. I can be erratic and unstable, temperamental and annoying.
Still, I don't lie. I try to live in truth, as hard as that is, every day.
Having to live with a compulsive truth-teller is a difficult thing. Think about it. Try to live with someone who is compelled to tell the truth, no matter how hurtful or difficult that may be at the time. I'm always getting myself into situations which could have been avoided, if I would have just decided to take the easy way out, and tell a lie.
I wasn't always like this. When I was younger, I was prepared to hide myself away. I was prepared to tell convenient lies, to allow myself to be untrue to myself. I told everyone what they wanted to hear, smiled because they wanted me to. When people lied about me, I stayed politely quiet, trusting that others would see the truth in me and judge me by my actions, and not by their lies.
What did I gain? A feeling of alienation. I distrusted those around me. Instead of preserving the relationships that were important to me, I ended up damaging them. All for the sake of protecting other people. For the sake of playing nicely, by the rules of society.
Now, I tell the truth. I am compelled to tell the truth. Even if that means confrontation. Stand up, screaming fights with strangers. Appearing rude, impolite, or downright weird. Always saying the inconvenient, unhappy thing to everyone who asks an inconvenient question. Truth doesn't often compromise.
By telling the truth, I am free to experience life without fear. I can look in the eyes of the people I know, and I am free to develop strong and lasting bonds with them. Relationships based on trust, because they are based on honesty.
By telling the truth, I have freed myself from the chains of my past. I am free to speak, and I will not allow anyone to take that freedom from me.
We shouldn't live our lives in order to please others. If we do, we please no-one. We shouldn't change the truth in order to please them, either.