The problem with seeking truth is that in order to find it, you must be willing to accept that what you believe to be true, may not be true at all if presented with new facts and evidence. To deny facts and evidence while continuing to believe the debunked lie is called cognitive dissonance.
Google defines cognitive dissonance as “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, esecially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.”
We all have go through cognitive dissonance. We all cling to it. Truth can not only cut deep at times, but it rocks our world when it challenges our fundamental beliefs about the world around us. It sends us hurling into a space that feels uncontrollable and chaotic. Our brains struggle to grasp hold of new evidence and make sense of the information that comes flooding in. Because of this traumatic response I believe, in most instances, God allows the truth to seep in, allowing our minds and emotions to process a small amount of information at a time rather than have the curtain pulled back all at once. The all at once reveal is, to say the least, traumatic. I think this is part of the process of sanctification, or becoming holy.
My life has been riddled with lies from many of those I love. It was always hard for me to discern the truth from the ones I loved because, while the facts and evidence said that the information was a lie, my heart told me that these people loved me and would never lie to me. So despite hard evidence to the contrary, I believed the lies. I even repeated the lies as truth. Cognitive dissonance.
It would take decades for me to choose facts and evidence over emotions and feelings, and in that choice a flood of hurt and pain and chaos opened up.
But God. Oh, God’s amazing grace, his endless mercy, and patient heart that waits for me to understand.
The truth will set you free. That’s what Jesus told the Jews who believed in Him.
What is the truth? And how can I know what is true?
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32
Of course Jesus was talking about himself, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life…”
Jesus sets us free from our sin. Studying scripture will reveal the truth about who Jesus is, and why He came. Yet still, any and all truth sets us free and breaks the power of sin in our lives, though it hurts and cuts deep sometimes to truly accept what we don’t want to believe.
In the movie, The Heart of Man, the son leaves his father and runs after the beautiful temptress, chasing her down and answering her seductive beckoning. When he finally catches her, embraces her beauty, and indulges in a passionate kiss, she turns to rotting, maggot-filled bones in his arms.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.-Proverbs 14:12
Healthy flesh in contact with rotting anything will cause infection, disease, and eventually death. The death will start small; just the healthy flesh directly in contact with the rotting flesh will die, but eventually the sickness spreads to all the healthy flesh and kills.
While the movie was about sexual addiction, the same holds true for any and all sin, including pride and self-righteousness. Hanging on to that sin and refusing the truth, that it leads to death, will be the death of me. Of you. I have to face the facts, accept the truth, and allow the truth to set me free, that is the truth of who Jesus is and why He came.
The trick is recognizing the facade, because sin is like that beautiful woman or silver-tongued man. It hides itself under beauty, passion, desire, flattery, or even good-will, but once you have taken a bite of the apple, you quickly find it filled with poison.
Sin comes in and speaks sweet words to you, the ones you long to hear most, because your enemy is crafty and studies you intently to know how to speak to you. Sin comes in and pretends to be your friend, flirting with you, trying to make you believe he is what you need. Sin relies heavily on cognitive dissonance, because it is only through that refusal to seek out and believe the truth, that sin can hold you captive, because the truth will set you free.
Why do I write all this, and now? I struggle with sin. Me. A pastor’s wife. I struggle to know what is a sin sometimes, because I too, suffer from cognitive dissonance. I struggle because not everything we are taught as children, by our flawed parents, is accurate according to God, and just because my parents told me it was a sin or not a sin, doesn’t mean they are right. However it is MY responsibility to seek the truth, guided by scripture and the Holy Spirit, and be moldable enough to accept new evidence and say, “I’ve been wrong.”
Honesty and integrity have been an important quality for me when it comes to relationships. However, because I have experienced so much dishonesty in my relationships, I must rely on actions over words. My husband taught me this skill as I began to separate fact from fiction, pulling off masks and looking for beauty beneath rather than death, until finally I had to pull off my own mask and face what is beneath, and to be honest I haven’t liked what I found. Most days I’ve sat next to God hiding my face, saying, “Don’t look at me. But please don’t leave me!”
God is with you; you hold His right hand.
My husband wrote this on our wall next to the bed where I see it every morning. He said, “I know you struggle, but I see you as a little girl, holding God’s hand while He walks along with you.”
Today, during my Bible study from 1 Timothy 1:16, I finally understood.
But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost [sinner], Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.-Paul
God is so very patient, waiting for me to see the facade fall away and all the truth to sink in, slowly, to cause the least amount of damage. He’s holding my hand and saying, “Just hold tight, I’ve got you. I’m never going to let go.” And I know He won’t, no matter how much the truth hurts, his goal is to set me free, in the process of sanctification, being made holy, because it is a process, until the day we die. Then we will finally be set free forever. In the meantime, I’m learning to just let Him hold my hand through it all because I’m learning that more than anything, allowing myself to consider that my truth may actually be a lie, is a sign of a heart, mind, and spirit that is maturing, being made holy, moving along in the process of sanctification.