Can you tell when someone is telling you the truth?
This is a question that gets on people's minds a lot because truth is an important quality in their lives and it’s important to be able to tell the difference between the truth and between something that is not true.
But sometimes it is a little difficult to tell if something is true or not. Many times this is a question of situational truth. And we’re not even talking about questions like, “Honey, do these shoes make my feet look fat?” or other variations of that question.
As far as questions like that go there is no way to answer that question simply and win. The answerer is always going to lose. But what we are really talking about here are ideas that we deal with on a daily basis that we accept as being fuzzy along the lines of truth, but that don’t seem to bother too many people.
We actually deal with fuzzy truth questions and answers quite often and they have become such an accepted part of our normal conversations that they have ceased for the most part to have any negative connotations at all.
Simple things like a parent asking their child, “Did you brush your teeth?”
Seems like such a simple question on the surface, and it is, but it can be answered a number of different ways depending on the motivation of the answerer. And more than one of those answers can be the truth.
If the child doesn’t want to brush their teeth right now, but brushed them yesterday, then the child can certainly answer yes to that question truthfully. That is probably not what the parent had in mind, but it doesn’t mean that the child did not tell the truth.
Most parents with a bit of experience will know there are better ways to ask that question to get the answer you are looking for, but in fact, this is an example of telling the truth in a way that turns it into a lie.
And it makes the truth and everything else a bit blurry.
Time is another idea where the relative truth is kind of taken for granted. Most people have at some time in their lives answered someone calling them by saying; I’ll be there in just a second. Or just give a minute and I’ll be right there or some other phrase that uses an exact amount of time in a way that is not meant to be exact in anyway whatsoever.
Everybody who has ever gotten a response like this from someone knows in their logical mind that the possibility of that person being there in exactly one second or exactly one minute is pretty small, even though that is what the person told them.
And that answering person knows full well too, that unless they have a stopwatch handy there is virtually no way they are going to be right over there in exactly a minute.
If you look around a bit, you can find endless examples of this idea of almost the truth used often in our world, and usually by very well meaning people who would certainly not think they were telling a lie if they used the truth in these ways.
As a matter of fact, so much of our experience is in dealing with the relative truth that on occasion our ability to tell if something is really true in a real way gets a little bit warped.
And sometimes that inability to see if something is really true for us leads us to believe things that we might not otherwise believe if we weren’t so used to understanding the truth to be a fluid and ever-changing animal.
Take for instance, a young person in the first grade in elementary school. Let’s give this person a name because that is easier to write than always calling them a young person in first grade. So this little fellow’s name is Michael.
Now Michael loves to draw. He has a little pencil that he keeps special for those occasions when it is appropriate to be drawing in his classroom. And like many small children, his sense of linear time is not so well developed. So as a result of those 2 things, Michael is still busily drawing at his desk when it is time for all the children to get into a line to walk down the hallway to go to the library.
Now the teacher knows there is only a certain amount of time for visiting the library and during this time she can go and get a cup of coffee which she desperately needs because she was up late last night grading spelling quizzes. So she really wants her students in line to go down to the library.
She is standing by the door ready to lead her charges down the hall when one of the children says “Hey, Michael is still at his desk drawing”
And poof, that’s about all it takes. The lure of that hot caffeinated beverage is just too strong for her to resist.
The teacher marches over to Michael at his desk where he is happily enjoying drawing little cartoon animals, snatches the pencil out of his hand and grabs the paper off the desk and yells in her angry voice, “Michael, didn’t you hear me say it was time for the library. I suppose you think that all we have to do today is wait around for you to join us in our group. I can’t believe you are drawing again, I don’t know why you keep doing that when you can’t draw anything anyway. Now go get in that line right now if you know what’s good for you.
A little dramatized for effect, but pretty much this kind of scene plays out every day in many places, not just first grade classrooms.
And now it doesn’t make any difference what Michael thinks of his artistic abilities, the person who knows all the answers and holds all the power in his world ahs told him he is not a good artist – so it must be true.
And if anyone else asks him if he is a good little artist, he now knows what the correct answer to that question is.
So here’s the deal with the truth. We each have our own version of it; many times it lines up just fine with that of other people. Is this a hot dog? No that is a hamburger. Simple stuff, and lots of folks can agree enough to make it through the day no worries.
Other things, we all have our own personal truth about, and if that personal truth involves you feeling less than the fabulously Powerful Creator Spirit you are, it would be OK to change it around.
So it’s more true – for you.