I admit, now that I think about it, maybe I should have replied only to the gentleman who sent the email instead of clicking “reply all” and sending my message to everyone. I was attempting, in the kindest way possible, to tell him that the email he had sent was false. The reason I included everyone else was because I thought they would want to know that, too. The email he sent certainly wasn’t about a life and death issue but he was getting a bit up in arms over it and it’s the kind of political email that can get others really upset. He, himself, referenced a snopes.com article, inferring that’s where he got his information. I went to that article to see for myself and found that it said just the opposite, so I wanted to let him know.
Today I got a few replies from people who were in his original list that don’t know me but don’t like me. They responded to my email defensively because they felt I was attacking their friend. One of them reminded me that no one is perfect and that maybe I should read my facts a little more carefully, not to mention the fact that in America we have freedom of speech. Does this give people license to spread things that aren’t true? He was saying “don’t tell me what I can or can’t believe.” We do have the right to determine what we believe. But just believing doesn’t necessarily make it true.
A trivial example of this is when I was taking an adult education anatomy course years ago. One day our teacher walked into lab and began writing on the chalkboard. As she turned with her back to us, we could all see that her skirt was completely unzipped in the back. We all kind of looked at each other, unsure of what to do, when one girl spoke up and told the teacher, “Your skirt is unzipped.” She was a little embarrassed, sure, but she quickly zipped it up and we moved on. It would have been silly for her to say, “I don’t believe you” because believe it or not, her skirt was undone. I don’t think she would have wanted us to avoid telling her the truth for fear it would hurt her feelings and watch her stand in front of us all day with her slip showing.
Back to my original story: the other person who replied even discredited snopes.com saying that it was started by some husband and wife team and she and her husband could just as easily start their own site and say whatever they wanted to, that it wasn’t necessarily truth. I agree that snopes.com probably isn’t the end all of all truth, but they have a proven track record of carefully researching urban legends and have been lauded by many as a good resource for what is accurate and what’s just a rumor in the land of emails flying here and there.
I have to admit I was a little surprised by their reactions and it made me think, do we sometimes put our fingers in our ears because the truth we hear might hurt us or someone else we care about? I am so aware that I’m not perfect. I have plenty of moments when I need to be told the truth in love and sure, it doesn’t feel that good at first. I’ve had to resist the urge to start pointing fingers at other people and just take it, whether it came from another person or from God. I’m not saying I’m a pro at this, but I am trying!
This is really not a big deal, it has just made me think. Do we, particularly in America, put our heads in the sand sometimes because we’d rather not know truth? I know it’s hard for us to face the truth of our own mistakes and sinfulness when we meet up with the truth of Jesus face to face. I guess that’s why some react in anger or refusal to even discuss the matter. It hurts their feelings or offends them. In my heart and life, hurt feelings take a back seat to knowing the truth that I’m a flawed person who needs forgiveness and grace from God. The truth is a treasure well worth pursuing, even if sometimes painful to hear.
At the very least, if we could talk about things, rather than getting worked up and blasting one another, we’d all be much better off. What do you think? Do you want to know the truth, no matter what?
God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. Ephesians 4:14 The Msg