You Can’t Handle the Truth

IMG_1469.JPG Col. Jessup’s brazen testimony from “A Few Good Men” is etched into our memory. He proclaimed that deep down the truth was, we wanted him on that wall. We needed him on that wall. That like it or not, we needed his truth. It is a powerful assertion. That we can’t handle the truth. And in all honesty, there is truth in the assertion. I know that the truth sets me free. I know that truth is foundational to relationships, be it personal or professional. Words have to mean something. Relationships must have integrity, or why bother at all? I know that I should speak the truth in love, just as I hope it is done for me. But do I make it safe for people to speak truth into my life? A friend of mine once told me that whether the truth comes to him spoken in love, or with a 2×4 over his skull, he wants to learn to accept it. “Let a wise man rebuke me, it is an oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.” – Psalm 141:5 It is a noble concept, but one that my inner being bristles at. I love the truth – when it is positive, uplifting, and puts me in a good light. But what about the truth that reveals areas where I need light to be shone? What about truth shining in the hidden crevices and corners of my soul that don’t cast glory on my creator, but rather reveal my own selfish ambitions and pursuits? How welcoming am I to truth, when truth hurts? I can chuckle at the old Geico video clip ( ) where Mary Todd Lincoln asks Honest Abe if her dress makes her backside look too big. I snicker watching Abe struggle to find the words that will be truthful, yet palatable to his beloved wife. But she didn’t really want truth. She wanted affirmation. Becomes sometimes truth hurts. Sometimes, in the guise of seeking wisdom, am I really seeking affirmation? When I open my classroom for observation from my administration or my peers, is my guard down and my mind open to real feedback? When I ask my spouse how she feels about how I am doing as her husband, or as a father, am I really just seeking affirmation? Does my history convey an invitation for truth? Does my tone reflect a welcome matt for honest conversation? Or will my heart storm off, like Mary Todd Lincoln, when a cringing Abe dared to suggest there might be a little room for improvement. The challenge is for me to learn how to welcome and embrace truth, whether pleasant or painful, so I can truly be set free. Even if my outside – the appearance or job performance could use tweaking. Even if my inside – that which resides in my heart, needs cultivating. Even if my backside is too big.

3 thoughts on “You Can’t Handle the Truth

  1. Excellent post, friend. I agree — real truth is hard to handle sometimes. It is a tool that is used to keep us from embracing a growth mindset. I also agree with Holly. The concept of truth is uncomfortable because it involves judgment. Thank you, as always for sharing your words. They make an impact.


  2. Greg,
    We almost used the Few Good Men clip for our church promos for The Truth Project! 🙂 I love that scene. Your exploration of the theme topic this week is both profound and humorous. I love the connection to the Lincoln spoof. Perfect closing sentence. 😉 This week has been an interesting one. I think the topic of The Truth makes people nervous!


  3. Yes, I think I am sometimes seeking affirmation instead of truth. How clear it seems when someone else spells it out for me. Just like my students, whose seeking of truth is disguised as seeking the truth. I have to admit, I am far from being able to embrace the truth whether pleasant (this being the easier one) or painful.


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