Truth-telling can be a very difficult journey on the way to freedom.
—Jacqui Lewis, Fierce Love
CAC friend Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis writes about the ways both prophetic and personal truth-telling challenge us and the systems to which we belong:
In my faith tradition we call that speaking the truth—in love. As a clergyperson, I have many truth-telling strategies. Sometimes I’m gentle, needing to take good care of the one who is listening. Sometimes I’ve got my fists in the air while marching for the truth, for justice and liberation. Always my intention is to free up the energy that’s caught in the story, to liberate myself and the other with whom I’m in relationship to find a way forward. Can we win this action? Will the politician change policy or give in to demands? Will the congregant or colleague hear my point of view, and can I hear theirs? Can I change the story in the public square in a compelling way and open eyes, hearts, and minds to new worldviews? Will [my husband] John and I become stronger because of this difficult talk? Telling the truth is an act of love, an act of resistance, an act of courage. Its end is liberation, freedom, and, if possible, reconciliation. But there can be no reconciliation without truth.…
The historian Howard Zinn wrote, “The most revolutionary act one can engage in is to tell the truth.”  Indeed! I think the revolutionary part of truth is that it can free us and those around us to live with greater certainty about what is real, even when it hurts, because we are no longer shackled to the energy lying requires of us. Lying demands the continuation of the lie and the amplification of the lie to keep the truth hidden.… Telling the truth creates ripples of authenticity that change the world.…
I believe truth is revolutionary; it’s part of the work of fierce love. Truth makes a personal, spiritual, ethical, and moral demand upon us. It wants to be said, known, told. It hurts and it’s inconvenient, but it’s essential to our well-being. It cleanses our spiritual palate and restores our souls. Truth is a drink of water to a parched traveler. It lubricates relationships. It liberates us from bondage. It builds trust and connections. It’s the beginning of authentic living and joy. Truth eludes us at times, and we have to pursue it. Truth invites us to be honest about who we are, about our flawed-but-beautiful, broken-but-healing selves. Truth leads to reconciliation and peace; without truth, there is no peace. In the light of truth, we are able to honor our journey and love ourselves. Truth-telling is a spiritual discipline that requires practice. We must not lie to others and, as Fyodor Dostoevsky suggested, we mustn’t lie to ourselves. Being honest with ourselves about ourselves is to love ourselves unconditionally, to love ourselves fiercely.
 Howard Zinn, “Marx in Soho: A Play on History,” in Three Plays: The Political Theater of Howard Zinn (Boston: Beacon Press, 2010), 115.
Jacqui Lewis, Fierce Love: A Bold Path to Ferocious Courage and Rule-Breaking Kindness That Can Heal the World (New York: Harmony Books, 2021), 58, 64, 65.
Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 10, 8, and 13. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.
Prophetic truth catalyzes us to stop avoiding uncomfortable truths.
Story from Our Community:
After 30 years of addiction, I finally made it into the rooms of AA. By the grace of God, I’ve been sober 17 years. As part of my 11th step work, I’ve read many of Fr. Richard’s books and faithfully read his daily meditations as they continue to feed my journey. This year’s theme promises to be exciting and enriching. This past week has been most impactful. I’ve always thought Bill W. should be canonized as a saint if he were Catholic, but now I know he was a prophet! It really makes me wonder what God spoke to him in his hospital room when he had that spiritual awakening. I’m so grateful every day for God’s intervention in Bill’s life and his willingness to trust and obey God. I’m grateful for my life today!