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What is Truth?

“Sanctify them in the truth.

Your word is truth.”

John 17:17

Have you ever noticed that dogs don’t lie? They don’t really tell the truth either, they just exist. They live in real time and deal with the world as it comes. If they have to pee, they sniff around to find a spot that suits them and they go. Unless a human teaches them otherwise, peeing in the house is just as appropriate to them as anywhere else. That’s the truth about animals. The world is their toilet.

Humans have a hard time processing that kind of truth. For whatever reason we want to make up stories to satisfy our need to know why. “My dog peed on the carpet because she was mad at me for leaving the house. Her previous owner must have left her alone all the time and now she has separation anxiety.” We often believe these stories we tell ourselves about why our dogs do what they do, which inevitably engages our emotions. We end up responding to our dogs according to the way we feel about our fictitious tales when the truth may be as simple as this: the dog was just never correctly or thoroughly potty trained.

This can cause problems when instead of taking steps to solve the issue, we get all wrapped up in the perceived drama. Guilt sets in every time we anticipate leaving the dog to go grocery shopping. While we are out, worry ensues as we think about what our dog is doing under the stress of being alone. Upon returning, frustration takes over while we scrub that same spot in the corner for the umpteenth time. Meanwhile the dog, sensing our displeasure, slinks out of the room, which we percieve as shame. This sends us back into a guilt spiral as we relive the fantasy of our poor dog with the neglected past. STOP the insanity! Get to the truth and say to yourself: my dog pees in the house whenever I leave the house. End of story. Then make a plan of action to change the dog’s behavior such as research potty training and start over. Leave the storytelling to Dr. Seuss.

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“What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus when interrogating Him about being the king of the Jews. His answer is not recorded, however we know from John 14:6 that Jesus said of Himself, “ I am the way the truth and the life.”

Truth is the word alétheia in the Greek. It means what is true in any matter under consideration as opposed to what is feigned, fictitious or false. In ancient Greek culture this word was synonymous with the word “reality.”

When following Jesus “right here” it requires that I live in the truth, in reality. He promises to be with me always, as I stay in real time. But as soon as I let my mind wander into the past to relive unpleasant experiences or into future speculations about what may or may not happen tomorrow, I am no longer living in real time. I have left reality (what is true and real at this moment) and I’ve entered into a simulated dream-state that my thoughts have manufactured. And what of all the unknown variables? No problem, I will no doubt create something out of my imagination to make the story complete in order to answer the questions that plague my mind. But it’s feigned, fictitious and most likely false. And it leaves me feeling depressed, insecure and anxious.

I did it just this morning! I was well on my way to spiraling into despair over a situation I have no control over. I was worrying, conjecturing and filling in all the blanks with troublesome speculations until my dear husband helped me see that I had to STOP the insanity! And get back to what was true. Jesus is true. He is the way. He is life. His Word says that He will cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Do I believe it or not? Yes, Lord, I believe. I will reign in my unruly imagination and trust You.

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