Thursday, April 26, 2018

Who Can Handle the Truth?

In preparation for the last high school play of the year, our daughter was volunteered by her Language Arts teacher to help paint the set and the stage props. Ms. L was probably thinking that she was doing the budding artist a favor. Giving her an opportunity to express her indisputable creativity she admired so much over the past few months. She just missed one tiny detail.

Our daughter loves to draw. 

She HATES painting.  

Maybe this is why they say that the devil is in the details.

Still, day after day she would hop on the activity bus and head to backstage where mess and chaos reigned. She would stay there for hours immersed in shades of acrylic up to her eyeballs, four pairs of good jeans and her favorite shirt from Serbia now all permanently decorated by splatters of blue, gray, green and brown.

We did our parental best to stop the madness - all to no avail.

But WHY??? Why are you doing this - torturing yourself? It’s not your job. We tried to reason, hoping it's not too late to teach our child the importance of knowing and respecting proper personal boundaries. 

There is no one else. Everybody abandoned the project and I am left alone to do it.

Throwing all thoughts of honoring proper personal boundaries aside, I did the 'Mom to the rescue' thing and volunteered with abandon:

I’ll do it with you. I LOVE painting. And I would enjoy being there with you. In my mind, I was already feverishly rearranging my schedule to make sure I can fit those several hours of backstage painting in.

No Mom. She said calmly. I can’t allow you to come. Kids are so mean and I don't want you to be subjected to that. 

I am both grieved and taken aback by this apparent role reversal. I also can't help but be somewhat amused by my child’s assessment of what I can handle. Of what I should and shouldn’t be subjected to from her peers. She means well. She wants to protect me… but clearly there is something wrong with this picture!

Then I realize this ridiculous scenario is repeated again and again in many forms and contexts – we do it to our friends, bosses, supervisors, team leaders, pastors. The higher up you are in the food chain, the less likely you are to hear the bottom of the barrel truth. Sometimes truth can be hard to swallow so we decide to lift a shield against it, to opt out - either by not saying what we really think or saying what we think they want to hear.

A lot of love, a lot of intimacy is squandered this way.

We do this to God too, as if He can’t handle the truth. 

We embellish our prayers and compose impressive soliloquies to him, while stuffing our true emotions and thoughts (if we are so lucky to even be aware of them).

I have to wonder what is going on in His mind when we act like this around Him.  Is He bored? Annoyed? Irritated? Does He roll his eyes? Does He feel betrayed, because no matter how much we proclaim our loyalty and our faith in Him, we don't really trust Him - the one person that can handle the truth indeed.