‘And the truth shall set you free,’ John 8:32
This quote has been used so often that many people don’t even know it is from the Bible. We say it jokingly and sometimes seriously, but what does it really mean? I’m not scholar, but I have had some experience with freedom, and my take on this from a practical application is that it’s all about breaking the chains of denial and rationalization. Rationalization, as I see it, is a process of telling yourself a story (okay, a lie…see how easy it is?) about something to make you feel better about that something. The purpose of rationalization is to keep yourself from taking the scary step towards change.
Now, admittedly, change is not always possible. There is a difference between acceptance and rationalization. Here is an easy example. Suppose you have written a novel that you really, really, really want to see published (and it’s called Grief, Inc. and even people besides your Mom really like it). And suppose it keeps getting rejected. Rationalization says: “Those publishers obviously don’t want to make money by selling my fabulous book. There’s probably a leftist conspiracy against a book with a Christian theme. I will hold fast against my oppressors and rest comfortably in the knowledge that I am probably a martyr for the cause.” Now, I can feel very good about my writing abilities and the action required by me is…nothing! Feel good, no effort. Yay, Rationalization!
However, if the end goal is to be a published author, this has not particularly advanced my cause. Truth says “There is something about either the quality of my writing or content that is not resonating with the publishers I’m selecting. This is a highly selective industry I’ve chosen and I need to go back and make sure my writing is as crisp, professional and sellable as possible, and I need to choose publishers with a history of publishing the kind of books I want to write.” I feel a little bit overwhelmed because that’s a lot of work ahead of me, but I also feel hopeful, because there is still action to be taken. Feel hopeful, lots of effort. Meh, Acceptance. Except…
Is the end goal to be a published author or to feel good about not being published? Is my message a source of inspiration and comfort to people who have never read it? Is there another path I should be taken that will never be uncovered if I don’t continue to take the next indicated step in truth? And THAT is the true danger of rationalization in my opinion. I think of it this way. When you tell yourself lies, it’s like you’re sitting on your bed in the dark telling yourself there are no cockroaches. Now, if there aren’t any, it’s not a bad thing. But the problem arises where there actually ARE. So even though you feel okay, you’re not actually okay, and you’re not actually doing anything helpful with the lie. But if you turn on the light, yes, you will see the cockroaches…AS THEY SCURRY AWAY. And that’s what the truth can do. My lies/rationalization don’t change reality they just anesthetize me to it. And truth doesn’t change reality either but it is the doorway to hope and change and that does change things.
And just for the record, there’s no conspiracy, leftist, rightwing or other. Grief Inc, maybe isn’t for everyone, but it is for many and it will find a home someday and if I have to rewrite the you-know-what out of it I will, because nobody said this was going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile is.