lesson: facing the hard truth

They say that change begins right where you are. The thing is, many of us have a strong aversion to knowing where that is. Where am I? What is true about me here? If you’re anything like me, you’d prefer to believe that things are the same as they used to be, or perhaps that you are further along than you really are.

I really hate stepping on the bathroom scales. Since I recovered from a lengthy period of disordered eating, I’ve told myself that weighing myself is bad for my state of mind. Weight is just a number, after all, a number that says so little about body composition and so easily becomes weaponised as a means of self-loathing. Better to avoid knowing what that number is and finding other ways to monitor my health.

But without an objective way to measure, everything becomes subjective. Sure, I feel healthy and I’m fit for my age. Maybe my hipster jeans accentuate some softness that wasn’t there before, but I notice that less on some days than others. And most people would still say I’m slim.

It’s so easy to find ways to bolster the version of reality we want to believe, don’t you find? It’s so much harder to take a long, hard look at what is actually real, because that might mean we have to do something about it.

The reality is that I’m in the last year of my forties. When I make jokes to my husband about not being able to compete with his lean and toned bod, he now side-steps with remarks about the difference between men and women. I don’t feel so great about wearing a bikini anymore. And, when I finally got my courage up to check, the number on the scale is not the same as it was 10 or even 5 years ago.

They say it was Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. If we want things to change we have to do something different. Any courageous look at reality is the threshold towards that place of decisive action.

uncomfortable grace

In our lives in general we are masters of self-deception. We live with limiting beliefs or ingrained behaviours that no longer serve us. We entertain compulsions and addictions that keep us in a state of unfreedom. All the time kidding ourselves that really we are in control of our own choices. We don’t consciously choose to be in denial, of course, we just tend to be wired towards comfort and change is uncomfortable.

Ordinarily, some destabilising event will happen that causes us to see our true self in the mirror. These are moments that, as Dr Chris Hall of Renovaré puts it, ‘Crack us open’. A relational breakdown, a meltdown at work, some consequence of our choices that stares us in the face. These moments can be so uncomfortable, so difficult to own that we make excuses to ourselves, blame the fallout on other people, and continue as we were. But when we are willing to own the hard truth, to stop and really pay attention, we may discern the possibility of a new path just ahead. 

We need help, of course. The help of a close friend who can gently encourage us that while yes, this uncomfortable truth is not to be avoided, we are not in fact imprisoned in our old patterns. We can make some different, even difficult choices and (if she is the sort of friend we thought she was) she will help us. And even then, with this caring support, we need the help of God who, through the Holy Spirit, makes the full work of Jesus available to us right where we are.

As far as I can tell, all this holds true whatever difficult reality we are being invited to face. Whether it’s that extra bit of weight, or that tendency towards angry outbursts. Those extra glasses of wine we conveniently forget about, or that routine impatience with our team-mate or spouse. When that uncomfortable moment arrives, in the form of our own personal reality check, perhaps we could see it as one of those persistent gifts of grace that invites us into a different future.


What has happened recently that has offered you a mirror to face your own reality? To what extent did you resist and avoid this reflection of truth? In what way might you see it as a threshold towards grace-filled change?


Spirit of God, accompany me as I face the truth about where I am currently. Empower me to make choices that will lead me towards greater freedom and more abundant life.