If it’s been said once, it’s (at least now) been said a million times: we live in a culturally and politically divisive age. I’m not sure what the implications are for other eras of time - maybe some were, in fact, less divided - but the truth is, people who think are also people who argue. So perhaps we ought to rejoice that maybe, in this division, we’re all just making a whole lot of intellectual strides? Meh.
It seems to me - someone who, a few years ago, felt like a rebel for calling herself a ‘moderate conservative’ - that people are actually quite eager to fall into some kind of category these days. Humans love a good club, and so it makes sense that Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal, hashtag-this and organization-that are monikers we seem to be extra anxious to claim.
If you’re a liberal, you probably think that the conservatives are egotistical racist bigots. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but liberals do tend to find conservatives to be less conscious of societal needs, and more focused on their own wants and desires. They’d say, for example, that conservatives tend to be more materialistic. More about the stuff. Hashtag capitalism. Conversely, conservatives tend to think that liberals are egotistical social justice warriors. Liberals, to conservatives’ thinking, are equally as committed to tearing down Constitutional freedoms as they are looking to destroy the moral framework of our society. Hashtag socialism.
What’s most ridiculous, though, is how many of us are continually falling for the notion that we can actually be defined by these silly parameters, allowing ourselves to be completely squared away in either one camp or the other. We’re positively rapturous not only to embrace this group-think, but also to shout it from the roof-tops. In a raucous new form of hear ye, hear ye, ‘Speaking your truth’ is the cultural gameshow of the moment, and it only takes a few words on Twitter to reveal to millions of people how important your truth actually is.
So, let me set the record straight for you: it isn’t. Not. At. All. Hashtag sorry.
I get it. That’s a tough one to swallow. But here’s the thing: your truth isn’t the truth. Truth is something that can’t be owned by anyone - in fact, that’s what makes it truth. Your story, your circumstances, how you feel - you might be able to speak about those things truthfully, but how you feel isn’t always an indicator of what is true. Two people may experience the exact same situation but come away feeling completely differently about it. Regardless of how they feel, though, the truth of what actually happened remains unchanged: what happened is what happened. A famous political commentator puts it like this: “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” An even wiser man used to often tell me, “Truth does not dwell in emotion.”
My dad raised myself and my siblings with what you might call a ‘progressive’ bent. We were brought up to think about the ‘why’ of faith, to ask hard questions, to enjoy art and music and to appreciate beauty. I was taught what it meant to have ‘all the feels’ way before anyone was eating avocado toast.
But here’s what’s interesting: although I learned that feelings mattered, I was never taught that they were all that mattered. In fact, I was brought up to know that the Bible says my feelings are often going to mislead me. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things.”
So, what do I do with that? Me, the girl with ‘all the feels’? I feel. And then, I push past the feeling to the truth. Not my truth - because there’s no such thing - but rather, the truth.
The truth is this: no matter which side of the cultural or political divide we find ourselves on, our hearts are deceitful. Our intentions aren’t trustworthy. While we point our fingers maniacally at those we call immoral, or bigoted, or racist, we pat ourselves on the back for being so astute. So superior. So good. Our hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Make no mistake: whether you call yourself a liberal or a conservative, you probably feel pretty darn good about it - and that’s the most troubling thing of all. Emotion is the newest, hottest drug of choice, and it’s fueling an age of thoughtless jibber jabber, an age where idiocy is crowned as intellectual prowess, where science is only science when its conclusions make us happy, and when it just feels too darn good not to tell the world every fifteen seconds how stylish our wardrobe is, how far away we’ve traveled, how fabulous our kitchens look, how we’re totally a 4 on the Enneagram scale.
So, again, I ask: what’s a girl to do, in this lovely cultural miasma? Well, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to focus not on speaking my truth - again, not actually even a thing - but instead, seeking Truth. I think knowing what God thinks about me is a lot more important than what I think about me. In fact, I need me like a fish needs a bicycle. I don’t need to speak my truth or find myself or follow my heart. What I really need is to forget how great I am for more than about 45 seconds.
It might sound simple, it might sound antiquated or backward or even, dare I say it, ridiculous. ‘Forget yourself’ isn’t the coolest marketing schtick.
But that doesn’t matter.
I don’t need to feel cool.