Where Truth and Love Meet

Listeners at Meiji Temple

“Speak the truth in love.” Ephesians 4:15

Twenty years ago I faced a decision: continue to lie about my sexual orientation or tell my parents the truth. I realized that I was closing my heart to them in order to protect myself and that the only way to have an adult relationship was to tell them the full truth, which I did. It was painful for us all, but, in time, with immense patience, we came to a place of honest, loving relationship.

We often pit truth and love as opponents in a virtuous battle in which there can only be one winner. We set up a false equation in which we must choose between truth and love, and end up having neither.

We just came out of an election in which both truth and love were largely absent. The result is a nation divided, hurt, resentful, anxious, angry, confused, and distrustful. Some are happy that their candidate(s) won, but immense damage has been done to our nation-family, and a troubling future looms.

So what now?

Discard the myth that truth and love are somehow incompatible. The path before us requires that we practice both together.

The Sufi poet Rumi wrote: “Out beyond notions of right and wrong, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

That field is Love. It is a place of unconditional positive regard, even for those whose thoughts and behaviors we loathe.  True love is a choice, not a feeling. It is hard work. It’s much easier to demolish someone’s hypocrisy on Facebook or Twitter than it is to engage in honest dialog.

In that field beyond right and wrong, we meet others as they are, listen, learn, and start to understand.

And in that field, we are also free to speak the unvarnished truth with the intention of remaining in relationship with those with differing views. That field beyond “right and wrong” does not ask as to surrender to evil, but rather we are asked to surrender our self-righteousness, moral superiority, and smug certainty,

This is the pivot, the twist, the middle way. While we radiate respect and seek to understand “the other”, we give no ground to misogyny, racism, Islamaphobia, homophobia, destruction of the planet, economic injustice, etc. We speak the truth in love, realizing, with humility, that we too have our own “isms”, ignorance, and arrogance.

The how of our response becomes very bit as important as the what.  We choose to “go high” even when others “go low”. In our crusades to be right, we can become just as vile as “those people” whom we condemn. Only by holding love and truth together can we heal, do justice, and make peace.

When I came out to my parents I learned that it takes time for beliefs and irrational fears to shift. Only in loving, patient, and courageously honest relating can such shifts happen. I had to say “no” and refuse to stay silent when horrible things were said or done. Yet, I chose to stay in relationship and keep doing the difficult, messy work of listening, forgiving, speaking up with firm love, and owning my own issues. That’s the key. Change happens in relationship, not through social media exchanges or even by winning the next argument or election.

Transformation of a family or a nation occurs when we tend both truth and love, when we choose right relationship over self-righteousness, when we have the courage to return, over and over, to that field beyond right and wrong. I’ll meet you there.

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4 Responses to Where Truth and Love Meet

  1. Mark Palmer says:

    Just getting around to reading your latest post (well this one at least 😉

    We (you, me, everyone – the “royal” WE) are an intricate interwoven cosmic tapestry bound together in ways both known and unknown to our heads and hearts. Speaking truth in love involves manners which are sorely lacking in our times.

    Trite, rude, inflammatory, and petty objections are easily cast about and seek to self-serve, self-elevate, and condemn that which is best left to God’s Judgement and Reconciliation. Does this mean we stand idly, shrug our shoulders ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, give up and ignore the sin of sinners?

    My hope is an emphatic “no” resonates with any and all.
    Proverbs 27 – A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, The naive proceed and pay the penalty. …. Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.

    Sharpening one another allows us to cleave an infinitesimally small glimpse of God’s boundless love. Sharpened, we can weave into that same boundless connection of love a single strand of our unique yoke of understanding (your “you”). Within the weaves of love we have faith, hope, and perseverance to speak truthfully in love.

    I recall a Biblical charge from Luke 6:42 – How can you say, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while you yourself fail to see the beam in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    The mental image of someone (hey I know I got three fingers pointing back at me) walking around with a log coming out of their eye always cracks me up! Logs and specks aside, what we should be looking for fruits not specks (Spec’s is ok (http://specsonline.com), but not specks).

    Galatians 5:22-23 …the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    I don’t think Paul meant to rank the fruits of the Spirit, but love is listed first. Without love none of the others (not even truth) can exist. The bounds of love (if it were even possible for love to somehow be bounded) are inclusive of manners (goodness, gentleness, self-control).

    Finally, I leave you with 1 Corinthians 13:10:
    But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away.

    Until a time when time no longer matters (perfection) we must keep the faith, reminding (sharpening) one another there are bounties beyond the bounty of this world in which we trod. We must persevere for we are not of this world. Worldly objections and our repented sins pale in comparison to the forgiveness, reconciliation, and hope of the Christ-won beauty of the cosmic tapestry.

    Peace, Beauty, and Joy to you as we make way in our hearts for the coming of the Savior who is Christ the Lord.

    Amen

    • scott says:

      Thank you Mark for your thoughtful reply! I love the image of us all being a “cosmic tapestry woven together”. Amen. May we continue to sharpen one another, as you said. In gratitude for your “sharpening” and wonderful friendship. Love, Scottie

  2. Sarah Hales says:

    This writing is beautiful, Scott; wrought through your personal experience and applicable to how we (I) meet suffering in any form. Thank you.
    I miss you so and am grateful when you post your heart. You are, indeed, a most special man.
    Blessings this Holy season.

    • scott says:

      Dear Sarah,

      I miss you too. Thank you for sharing so deeply from your heart, which inspires me to do the same. Blessings, love and peace to you, Scott

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