Please raise your right hand: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you, God? Response: I do! If you've never been in a court of law, then you have at least seen this scenario play out on screen in some tv drama. But in these here streets, people swear by any extreme to get the other party to believe what they are saying to be true. Rhetoric like: I'll put my hand on the Bible! On God! On my mama! On my kids, on my life even, has said everyone, who was probably lying.
Okay, maybe not everyone, but whole-lot-a folks know what I'm talking bout. "Allegedly," has fast become the phrase used to invoke the plausible deniability clause. You know, just in case the other person finds the truth by some other means. Even when we know we are being shady, we want to convince the other party we are being honest—whether it be a lie of omission or flat out denial. Let me just tell you, if it's not the truth, in its entirety, my friend, it is, therefore, henceforth, now and forevermore, a bonafide lie.
Some lies are so notorious, they will be a running joke for the rest of humanity. Like Bill Clinton, who said, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman!" Or OJ's lawyer, the late Johnnie Cochran, who cleverly said, "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit." Milli Vanilli was living their best life, lip-syncing their way to stardom. Or if we take it biblically, Peter said, not once, not twice but three times, "Who me? I know not the man!" and then the cock crew. Abraham told dudes, pie-like Sarah was his sister. He wasn't trying to take on the kind of heat, her being his wife would bring. The state farm commercial that coined the phrase "If it's on the internet then it must be true" is hilarious until it's you that's gone viral, and what is being said is as the USA's Commander and Chief would call it, fake news! All this made me wonder, what is truth, why is it necessary, and will the truth really make you free as the Bible implies (John 8:32)?
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
I'm no stranger to a good lie, even though Caribbean parents drilled it in our heads that a liar is a thief and a thief is a murderer. Sunday School further taught us that Satan was the father of lies, and the truth was not in him. And as a kid, you didn't want to be associated with anything that resembled the devil. Still, no matter what happened, as you grew from adolescence to adulthood, lying became more effortless than truth. It was always the neighbour who broke the window. It was never you that moved the change from the ashtray, and yes, Miss. Johnson, I did my homework, but I accidentally on purpose left it home.
As if all that wasn't bad enough, every parent died a little when their kid said, "My mommy says to tell you, she not home." to the Jehovah's Witness entourage or better yet, the home service insurance agent. I suppose the aversion to truth started since Eve let the serpent swing her with what of all things, a lie parading as the truth. I suppose that's where "the truth hurts" got started (not really), 'cause since then life has been real struggly.
Jack Nicolson's character in A Few Good Men, made this infamous line notorious when people want to avoid telling the truth. Honestly, "You can't handle the truth" should make the coded sound signalling the end of that relationship. Once you hear that line, you already know you bout to get hit with something that will shift your whole trajectory. While we have tantrums demanding the truth, or we concluded if someone was honest upfront, that we'd be the better for it; truth often is the thing that serves a real deadly blow.
Truths like, yes, you are fat in those jeans, no, he's not leaving his wife for you, and yes, your breath is atrocious, are some enlightenments that leave you feeling some kind of way. While according to the Bible, knowing the truth is what makes you free, it makes me aware that not accepting the truth is what keeps us bound. Now, before you think I'm anti-Jesus or something, let me explain. Could no one tell me that dude I liked in high school was not 'my one.' We had our first names fused together, forming 'thee' perfect baby name. How in Sam's Hill, could we not end up hitched? Never mind, I was a trifling heffa, but when he decided enough was enough and moved on, I was like, "SMT yea okay, he'll be back!" Next thing I knew, home-skillet was sending out invites to his nuptials. Yet, there I was, frozen—two years in a holding pattern, cause hey, this chick he's dating is only a phase. He just needs to get me back and that's fine. I just have to give him time, right? Wrong! Needless to say, time forged him a relationship worth investing the rest of his life in. Yikes!
Now, had I accepted his truth or maybe even just 'the truth'—that he was done, well, I could have been doing something more productive with my time. And there you have it, it was my first lesson in knowing there was a difference between my truth, his truth, and the truth. Reality is you can love someone and still choose someone else. And when I say love, I don't mean those obsessed, stalkerish things we sometimes do. It could just be me, but I think there are some people who'll pass through your life that you'll always have mad love for. But it doesn't mean they are meant for you. Thing is, we go investing emotions before we do the background checks, and next thing you know, your soul is tied to an imposter. In this case, my truth became, suga your mojo is NOT that good! His truth, he was ready for stability, and I wasn't it. The truth, while high school sweethearts turned life partners, is a beautiful story to tell the kids, 16-year-old-us, versus adult us, was longer making sense.
Anyways, fast forward some years later, I started talking to another fella. We hit it off right away, cause let's face you'll know those interim conversations be lit! We perfect spitting our best game 'til the sun comes up. Absolute first conversation guys, I said to this dude, "I'm not super affectionate. I'm not touchy-feely, and I'm not into heavy PDA (public displays of affection)." To which he replied, "Cool beans, not a problem. I can live with that!"
On the contrary, he was the let's hold hands walking down the street, l love you's, every day, after every conversation, kinda man! Needless to say, I know how dudes go and cause this wasn't my first rodeo, experience has taught me that some things need to be addressed upfront. So on six different occasions, in six different ways, I asked this man, "What is it that you need from me if I'm to be your partner?" Verbatim, he said, "Nothing Raquel. You're perfect! Everything with you is so easy!" PSA: Ladies, if you hear this, I promise you, in the words of Tyler Perry, just lose your mind one time, upfront, so you can erase the illusion of perfection. I kid you not, 2.5 months in, dude says, "Sorry, ma'am, but I'm gonna have to call it quits because this non-affection thing isn't working for me!" Errrrrrrr, Nah, what now!? But dude, I asked you, I told you......(sigh) You know what, nevermind!
Let me bring this into greater focus for you. Not because I didn't communicate well. Not because I was a nag. Not because I cheated or was being shady. Not because I was too demanding or to needy for that matter. Not because I had unrealistic expectations. No, this man walked away because I wasn't initiating being handsy and lovey-dovey. Well cut my legs and call me shorty. I was floored. Now, you'll don't come for me because this had nothing to do with sex. I see you thinking it, and yes, maybe, I could have done more. Possibly, I could have complied, but homeboy didn't even give me a chance to try. Still, when I tell you, I laughed. I mean I was tickled pink. It all made me realize that the 80/20 rule is not a myth! As I mulled over the situation in my mind, I realized, no Raquel, you actually are affectionate. In retrospect, there may have been 2 out of my 4 relationships where affection was not lacking. In this case, my truth was I just wasn't that into him. His truth, my other qualities, could not compensate for that one area where his love language wasn't being fulfilled. The truth, while there was no friction, there was no chemistry either and unless I was looking for a lifetime BFF that just wasn't gonna work. Period.
It's All Relative
Let me just put it out there that a fact is different from the truth. I see hashtags and comments on social media all the time, and people seem to use these words interchangeably, but I assure you they are not the same. A fact is something that's indisputable. Based on empirical research and quantifiable measures. Facts go beyond theories. They're proven through calculation and experience. They're something that definitively occurred in the past. Truth is entirely different; it may include fact, but it can also include belief. People will often accept things as true because they fall closer to their comfort zones, assimilate easily into their comfort zones, or reflect their preconceived notions of reality. Facts are indisputable. Truth is acceptable. (Source: https://the2112group.com)
Let me paint you a picture! If you get a call at 9:45 pm – and the person on the other end says, "Hey, let's go for a drive!" If you immediately pull out your Victoria Secret spring catalogue page 5, hot pink lace ensemble, take a bath, then proceed to lather your entire body in coconut oil and slip into a maxi dress -you, my friend is not going out with the resolve to take in the sites. You are armed with underlining but welcomed intentions.
Fact: Hardly any woman leaving the house at 10:00 pm, accompanied by a fella, is on her way to sing Kumbaya and pontificate on last Sunday's sermon. You are not assuming the position of prayer warrior on the third watch at the grotto. And although you may be calling on God, I assure you it's not for Him to come to your rescue.
Truth: You know you wanted it because you planned for it. You know you'd like it because it was premeditated. And as Moses narrated in Genesis, "And it was good!"
E-True Hollywood Story
In this season's Chronicles of a Church Girl articles, I have told many of my truths. One's that I don't care to repeat. While they included characters that have graced the stage of my life, I am merely telling you things from my perspective. This all reminded me of my first published book and how I cringed during the entire editing process. Why? Because I could not believe the levels of clownish malarkey, I was entangled with. The more I read, the more I hung my head in horror at the things I did and the things I allowed to be done. All because I rejected, I mean outright refused to believe the truth. No matter how many times it whacked me upside-the-head, I was adamant that I was the bee's knees, and it (meaning life) could never happen to me. Oh, but it had, and it did. Over and repeatedly. Now, as I approach being on the earth for the length of a generation, I've learned some truths that I'll share. Some you may need and some you didn't even know you needed.
The more I learn, the less I know.
If I am eligible for grace, so is the person that wronged me.
Changing my geographical location doesn't mean I've moved on.
I am not just changing but evolving.
Forgiveness is hard, but it's easier than holding a grudge.
Being kind to myself is where self-love begins.
I am enough, just not for everyone (so I learned to say no)
I'm not everyone's cup of tea, and that's okay.
Things true for them
They probably didn't mean to hurt me.
They are not perfect.
Sometimes, their decision has nothing to do with me.
When a person says, "I don't know," maybe they really don't know.
Their life does not revolve around me.
They cannot read my mind.
Their happiness is not my responsibility.
Sometimes, I was a disappointment to them too.
The 'No' is working for me and not against me. (Roman 8:28).
Home is not a place.
All of us are trying to figure it out.
We are all a little broken.
Whatever is believed, is true.
The power of two is not exclusive to husband and wife. (Matthew 18:19)
Everything comes down to a decision (Deuteronomy 13:19)
Jesus is indeed real!
Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil
While you may not be a wooden boy whose nose grows when you tell a lie (thank GOD), know that truth should not be something you use only when it's convenient. Truth requires you to be real. It calls for acceptance, whether you like it or not. Your truth should not be about pleasing others, nor is your truth contingent on someone else's reality. While their truth may not be what you want to hear, the truth may actually be a more natural pill to swallow. As the saying goes, there are 3 sides to a story, my side, your side and the truth, when translated means what you believe, what they believe, and what actually is. If you live life in the latter, you are less likely to be surprised.