I recently drove near the house where I lived my first twelve years. Parked on the lot of my elementary school which is closed now, memories rushed through the adventure of history. Feeling a basketball being dribbled on the hard ground and a shot off a backboard going through the net. Hearing Mama’s laughter and her southern voice, telling stories and singing songs and praying prayers. Smelling the morning aroma of the coffee she and my Dad loved, and the scrambled eggs I loved.
I smiled as I recalled a time my sweet, gentle Mama spoke to me in a tone that didn’t sound sweet and didn’t feel gentle. She wanted me to tell the truth, to always tell the truth. I did, finally. Yes, it was me. I hit the baseball into the neighbor’s yard.
The spiritual discipline of truth telling is about much more than Mama’s firm reminder of my need for an honest confession. It’s about living a life of truth. But that story, and her life of truth telling and truth living, alerted me again of the importance of this spiritual discipline.
Glancing again through the pages of my life story, I’m so thankful for mentors and friends who welcomed my honest questions and confessions. Family, friends, pastors, teachers, coaches. They were there. And they’re still here.
Joe Swails was always there to encourage my teen struggles, walk with me through Mama’s battle with cancer, and teach me how to embrace God’s love. Doug Beacham was always there during my college years and pastoral years for any conversation I needed to have.
I think of many more who have walked with me in this adventure of life. Each, in their own way, brought truth. Garrett Bain, in a friendship beginning our senior year of college and continuing today—unseparated by miles and time. Basil Savoie asking me hard questions as we prayed for one another sincerely and regularly. Lee Grady for breakfast meals and honest conversations and long walks of prayer. Tim Kuck as we talk and think and pray—together. My regular conversations with students. My weekly prayer meetings with a few guys. My breakfast last week with Charles Powell. My editors, my publisher, my pastor. My writer friends, my epilepsy friends, and again, my amazing family. Brief texts, phone calls, long gatherings—time spent together.
Many more names I could mention. But, for now, let me include just one more. I recently spent four days with my boss, Tracy Reynolds. Our long rides and long walks, our delicious meals and authentic conversations, our dreams voiced and questions asked, created an atmosphere of truth telling. To our inner selves, to each other, to God. Not denial. Not performance. Not assuming we must prove something.
Telling the truth, embracing the truth, receiving the truth, and praying to the Truth.
Do you have a close friend to help you with truth telling? Not angry outbursts after holding hurt inside for too long. Not rehearsed presentations to impress. Just questions and confessions and stories and revelations. Truth. Told to a friend. Heard by a friend.
And, in those moments when a person isn’t there to join you for breakfast or a long walk in the cold, pray the truth. Quote an ancient prayer with a sincere heart. Journal an honest prayer and release it as truth to the Truth.
After I drove away from viewing the house of my past, I sensed a burden had been lifted. While I was there, the reflective prayers and telling the truth—even in my form of poetic journaling on my phone—were like medicine I didn’t even know I needed when I woke that morning.
Try truth telling.
Even if you hit the baseball into the neighbor’s yard long ago, tell a friend. And maybe smile together.