It’s either truth or consequences, there’s no other way;
Put truth aside, the other takes its place.
Well, you can close your eyes but that won’t make it go away;
The truth or consequences must be faced.
--Steven Curtis Chapman
It was a cold cold night in Michigan at a winter retreat when I decided to retaliate against a friend’s meanness by freezing her underwear to the hood of the church bus and standing it up outside her cabin door. It wasn’t until I saw the tears shimmering in her eyes from my hiding place and heard the humiliating laughter that I realized the enormous implications of my actions. The shame and regret I felt haunted me for decades.
I learned a very painful, yet important lesson that night: when I don’t think through my decisions or deny the reality of the choice before me, what I’m really doing is ignoring Truth. And when I do that, there are always consequences.
I learned this from my ancestors, Adam and Eve.
Imagine having perfect clarity about every situation you encounter. Adam and Eve were the only two people ever to have had that luxury. For reasons we’ll never comprehend, they didn’t fully understand evil or its consequences. Did God really say? was all the enemy had to suggest to call into question the truth of their reality. Their decision not to see the truth of their situation for what it was had consequences that affected them and all of humanity forever.
Like Eve and Adam, I have trouble discerning the far-reaching impact of my decisions in the heat of the moment, even when the truth is obvious. It’s not any easier to connect the dots with the long-term implications of good decisions either. Sometimes an upside I won’t experience for months is enough to motivate me for awhile, but often I can’t maintain the discipline even when I see the results.
It’s truly crazy.
I eat poorly after consistently making good choices, just because I feel I’ve made enough good choices that I can “afford” a bad after all, there won’t be consequences for just one. And when I don’t feel the impact immediately, I choose the delusion again. I’m sure you have your own example, but here’s mine.
In 2011, I decided I wanted to look good in a bathing suit during my family’s Christmas vacation in Captiva, Fla. I worked out diligently the six months before and had a nice six pack by the time we arrived. I continued my exercise routine until the fall of 2013, when I decided I could rest on my laurels. Today, I have a soft belly.
So, what’s the solution? I’ve concluded that I can’t discern truth on my own well. The only way I know to successfully defeat my own willful ignorance and stubborn denial is to admit my need for divine help--help to see truth in the midst of intense emotion, help to see consequences before I choose poorly, and help to believe that God’s forgiveness and grace can redeem anything.
Even spitefully frozen underwear.