"Forgiveness and Truth The fourth aspect or challenge of forgiveness is its relationship with the truth, with which it shares a complex and terrifying essence. In order to forgive and be forgiven we must have the courage to face the truth, to tell the truth to ourselves and eventually to others. But a part of the reason that we are hurt in the first place or have hurt someone from whom we need forgiveness is because “we cannot handle the truth.” We cannot easily face the truth about ourselves, about others about almost anything. As beautiful as the truth might be conceptually, it is deeply terrifying in reality. When we see the truth or understand it or are in its presence we feel mostly judged and guilty, convicted. When the “truth” of the most painful and wicked offenses against us threatens to rip our very souls from our bodies we are so angry and devastated by God’s own “permissive will” that we flee from it to survive it. The brutality of truth is not our friend. And the ingenuity of our anxieties, the genius of our fantasies and games, the whiteness of the lies we depend on to survive psychic assaults, is to be here commended as a minor grace for those who suffer creatively, internalizing, re-imagining and playing to survive the horrorism of the truth. The truth of the truth, the core of the matter is that we need insulation from its light and fire often. The truth of the truth and forgiveness is that we lie to ourselves and others for good reasons sometimes. That there is an utter and shameful arrogance in those who unchastenedly celebrate the truth as a cure-all. The truth of the truth is that it is not always best literally understood, which is to say, that there is often more truth in the fictions we tell ourselves and others because these things express our desires more accurately than they express our sins. The truth is that sometimes a lie reveals more about us than a shallow and comfortable, palatable truth. The truth is that there are things about us so fragile, so private that they cannot bear the light of the brutal judgements of others, even those we love, as a second offense, a second brutality. We should not be sentenced to shame for our trust and sometimes ellipsis is best for a season. Time is again a pivotal factor and grace here. Those who love us and those that we love should be able to patiently bear the truth as it emerges in its season. A real key to forgiveness is this reality. Often we are not ready or mature enough to face the truth about ourselves “graciously.” We oft too harshly compare and judge even ourselves. Our souls know when we can bear the light of God’s love maturely. The truth, like forgiveness, emerges and grows. It is dynamic. It is life-affirming. it is spiritual. It is not relative in a shallow dishonest and cowardly sense. But it relates to the perspective of our understanding at particular times, seasons, points of maturity. The truth is of infinite value and it is both a means and an end to a better life. The irony is that many of our fictions and lies and evasions tell a truth about us. Forgiveness requires that we seek this light. It requires that we strive to be honest with ourselves first and foremost, to forgive and be forgiven we must in due season stand and sing in the sun of this grace. This requires discernment and trust as a reasonable currency of love. We should not be bound by the demands of the purist, especially one who has not faced his own lies and self-deception and seeks only the power of your contrition or the delicious spectacle of your re-lived misery as catharsis for his own sins. There is an absolutely “pornographic and vicarious” property to much truth-mongering judgmentalism. The truth is that we can only truly forgive the truth. The truth is that to be forgiven a lie or a half-truth is of limited value. The truth is that what we have done that is wrong or what we have suffered at the hands of broken others is just part of the story. The truth is that there may be in this life no full answers sometimes; but, forgiveness need not be partial. The truth, like love, faith and forgiveness is a disposition, an attitude toward reality. There is logic in the truth, but more art in loving and forgiving it. One of the hardest things about forgiving is that the truth of it often shatters fantasies and stories and fictions we have about ourselves and those we love and who love us. We must not insist on it unless we are willing and truly ready to sacrifice the comforts of our fictions which are considerable. Indeed we must be grown-grown to handle the relationship between forgiveness and truth. Life is often far easier as a fiction, full of romances and order, promises and wish fulfillment. It is easier to forget, deny, creatively sublimate than to remember and forgive. It is easier to project our brokenness onto others, especially strangers or disposable people than forgive ourselves and do the hard work of rebuilding a life so shattered by the courage of forgiveness. It is easier to rush into an evasion and new forms of busyness that are narcotic and complex but require little thought. These evasions fill time with the lightness of efficiencies and effectiveness, the illusions of progress and the shallow praise that goes with them. Easier this than to take the time to deal with the grief of failure and loss maturely. And it is easier, far easier to accept a shallow and immediate apology based on a half-truth and a desperate desire to maintain a fictive status quo than to wait and cultivate deep forgiveness and the shattering truths that attends its wake. Forgiveness like love and faith and truth is a choice, a courage to see and be transformed by the holy. To forgive we must be mature enough to handle the truth."
October 15, 2012