Have you ever had a moment of enlightenment when all of a sudden, the world seems to make sense? The merry-go-round stops. Your vision clears. The noise silences. And you knew something for sure. Like, for sure, for sure. There are a few times in life that we can all point to, where a word spoken at the right time simply transforms our life. It’s the light bulb moment. It’s the angels singing. It’s the come-to-Jesus-moment. It’s enlightenment.
My bible study (btw, I like to pronounce bible like a southern woman… bobble study…) has been studying truth- things like core beliefs and how truth makes a difference in our lives. We sound like philosophers pontificating. We seriously need port, cigars and an MDiv to make us official.
Even if you’re not religious, you probably know the interchange between Jesus and Pilate before he was sentenced to death by cross. They talked about this very issue. When Jesus was taken to this Roman Governor’s Palace for questioning, Jesus said to Pilate, “…the reason I was born and came into this world was to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Then Pilate cynically asked, “What is truth?”
Good question, right? What is truth, anyway?
Simply put, Truth is aligning your thoughts with Reality. Reality is the picture you take on your iPhone listed as “Original”- with no filter. Our experiences, addictions, traumas, and belief systems see reality with different filters. Looking at life with a warped filter affects how we think, behave and relate to others. But seeing reality filter-less makes life a whole lot clearer.
Enemies of Reality
- Denial– the refusal to believe something is true even when substantial evidence proves it. Denial is especially favored in relationships where the truth seems too hard to accept.
- Pride– believing that being right, best, brightest or biggest is more important than being honest with self, God and others.
- Shame– the belief that the pain of being wrong, weak or less-than is too crushing and must be avoided at all costs, even at the cost of truth.
The Psychology of Enlightenment
- First Comes the Light: The light is sometimes so bright, it blinds. It might even hurt, like a sunny day without sun glasses. I’ve been in a room with someone I love, hashing out a problem, when the truth of what he/she says feels like lightening hitting. The truth is, I said or did something that was wrong and hurt my loved-one. When I come to the realization that I was the one who caused the problem, I can’t argue my way out of it. I can’t excuse it or justify it. It is just true. It is just reality. I would be foolish not to accept it. I don’t have to like it. And it never feels good. If I’m a first-adopter of this truth, I tuck my tail without much growling, and I ask for forgiveness. If I’m slow, however, I sulk and mope and argue and then come around to the shuffling-feet-muttering-I’m-sorry- you-were-right-I’m-gonna-work-on-that stance.
Living in reality, and accepting my part in it, might mean swallowing my pride, but that is better than being foolish. Can I get an Amen?
- Second Comes the Power: Once I have accepted reality, and my part in it, I am able to move forward in power. Years ago, my counselor said to me, “You haven’t forgiven your dad, yet.” Incredulous, I listed all the ways she was wrong (denial) because I couldn’t stand to be less-than a good Christian girl (pride) and because being a bad Christian girl would be too heavy a burden to bear (shame.) Once my counselor pressed me a little further (over the course of a month), pointing out the signs of my unforgiveness, I realized she was right (denial lifted) and I realized I was the one with the problem (pride turned to humility) and my problem was normal (shame turned to acceptance.)
Once I could identify the burden I was feeling, I all of a sudden, had the power to do something about it. Enlightenment delivers energy that empowers its adopters for transformation.
- Third Comes the Freedom: Accepting reality is always a humbling experience. Sometimes we have to apologize or admit we were wrong. Sometimes we have to change course or ask for help. It’s hard. But it’s the only way to empowered and free-living. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Once I accepted my problem of unforgiveness, and I felt empowered to change it, I then became burden free. All that was left was acceptance and peace. In the matter of a few days, the burden I had carried for 20 years was shifted into empowered freedom, all because I aligned myself with the reality of my problem. The truth. I don’t mean that I didn’t have healing work to do, or communication work to do with my dad. I did. But, I had a totally new perspective and power on HOW to heal and communicate. Aligning yourself with the truth of your situation never results in a crushing defeat. Instead, it results in ultimate peace, and an -it’s-going-to-be-ok faith.
Telling the Truth
I’ve been on the other side of Truth Telling too. A woman can tell her story with crafted niceties explaining her marital problems. She may say they have a communication issue, or just don’t see eye to eye. She is obviously in a good deal of pain but feels hopeless she can do anything about it. The more she goes on, I hear troubling phrases like, “he has a temper,” and “not always truthful,” and “I don’t seem to do anything right.” And the more she talks, the more I feel a knowing in my heart and my head that there is more to the story, that something is going on that she is not admitting. I ask a few more pointed questions about what exactly she is experiencing at home. She gives half-admissions, which are enough for me to know the truth. And at the end of our time together, I softly say to her, and sometimes with tears, “My friend, your husband is abusing you. You don’t have to do this anymore.”
And then the flood gates open and she is hearing the truth spoken out loud that she has always know but was too afraid to admit. Denial is broken. She weeps because for the first time in a long time, she has aligned herself with the truth, and the truth is slowly setting her free. The truth is weakening the deception of “everything is fine,” and opening her to the possibility that God has a different plan. A better plan. A plan of healing and loving, and no harm.
Once she accepts the reality that she is a victim of financial/sexual/physical/emotional/psychological abuse (women who come out of abusive relationships can usually identify abuse in each of these areas) she can have the power to change her situation.
Sitting in a room when this kind of lightening strikes is the reward of my work. There is nothing like it on earth. That moment when time stops, eyes lock, and two souls are bound by the truth that settles down over the room. That’s when I feel God.
It’s magic. It’s love. It’s grace.
Actions Steps toward Enlightenment
- Be open to honest feedback – instead of being defensive or overly sensitive, seek out honest feedback and take what is useful.
- Let go of sacred cows– inventory the reasons why you keep your filter on, and see what destructive people, habits, thought patterns need to go.
- Test your Belief System– you might be believing something wonky about yourself, God, or the world around you. Give some effort in determining what you believe and the effects of your belief system on your life.
- Talk to Somebody– not just anybody, but somebody helpful and trustworthy. Letting other people know what you’re going through solidifies the truth in your own heart.