As I see it now, there are always two ways to tell the truth.
I realized this as I was telling my story for the umpteenth time to a friend yesterday. The telling of my story has changed drastically over the years. Its evolved from some one-celled amoeba to a living, breathing organism. I no longer hold my story by the hands and guide its steps. My story moves of its own accord. It reveals beauty I choose to forget in day-to-day life. It shows me glimpses beyond the veil of this decaying world into a redemption so grand my heart can only now handle infinitesimally small viewings. The kindness of God flows like spirit, guiding my words in such a way that even my feelings are compelled to follow. In the telling, God’s glory and my life feels aligned in honest and raw display. Something of the image of God wakes to life.
It is not something I have manufactured.
It was not always this way.
Bitterness once took the reigns of my story. It is possible it will do so again. And you know what? That bitter tale is just as true as the way I tell my story now. How can that be?
I’m not talking here of a shift from pessimism to optimism; negativity to positivity; or even bitterness to beauty.
I could tell you my story and point out to you proofs of how now I know God is clearly not kind. I could show you the particularly cruel ways life has handed me exactly what I most feared when I prayed for redemption. I could tell you that God is, above all things, a Master Manipulator who enjoys playing this cosmic game with all of us to see how we react. There is plenty in my story, and probably in yours, to prove this to you. I could encourage all of you like Job’s wife to curse God, live the way you want to live the remainder of your life, and die.
But my narrative unfolds in such a way now that God’s kindness simply spills out. Mercy overflows from a perspective I can’t even comprehend. It’s nonsensical faith. It’s ridiculous hope. The reality of this otherworldly perspective does not take away the grief. The loss and sorrow are as acute as it has ever been.
But this way of truth-telling also refuses to suppress the joy. God’s faithfulness lights candles and I snuff them out and he lights them again and the cycle goes on and on but more and more are lit and eventually I can’t help but notice. Just . . . notice . . . that perhaps . . . there is a little light here after all.
Gently, confidently, God’s kindness whispers:
But wait . . . there’s more.
How long can I wait for redemption to win?
It will never arrive fully; not until the day I die. How can I possibly cope?
By telling my story. By being a living Psalm, crying out to God for help on one hand and shaking my fist at Him with the other. By allowing Spirit to tell the truth of my bitterness or the truth of hope in Christ or the truth of both.
And sometimes, by watching my story remind me of love that defies and defines all my attempts to describe it.