Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Truth Hurts

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
~ John 8:32 (NKJV)

But you pretend and I pretend
That everything is fine
And though we should be at an end
It's so hard admittin'
When it's quittin' time

Quittin’ Time ~ recorded by Mary Chapin-Carpenter

Last week I wrote about the pain associated with telling the truth, hearing the truth and facing the truth. Aldous Huxley once gave this modern-day variation of the above Bible verse: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad." This is especially relevant when it comes to the area of relationships.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I’m not suggesting that divorce is the answer to every issue of incompatibility that arises in a marriage. The Bible says that we shouldn’t let the sun go down on our anger, so if that means staying up until 2:00 in the morning to work out our differences, then so be it.

What I’m referring to are relationships that have gone wrong for valid reasons such as physical or verbal abuse or adultery. In those cases, the marriage is already over, but one or both parties just aren’t ready to admit it yet.

When my sister was struggling with the difficult decision to end her marriage, she went through many stages along the way. At one point, she had finally made up her mind to file for divorce when her husband lost his job. Then he seemed like such a broken man that she just couldn’t bring herself to kick him when he was down – and she also hoped that the experience would change him for the better.

“I’m not backing down,” she explained, “I’m just stepping back.” She needed the assurance in her own mind that she had done everything in her power to make her marriage work. More than anything, she didn’t want to have any regrets.

My skepticism about her husband’s sincerity was reflected in this excerpt from a poem I wrote titled, “Enough is Enough.”

Now it seems you've quit listening to the truth
and started believing his lies;
You turned from the light and shut the door,
because the light was hurting your eyes.

A woman who counsels victims of abuse once told me that periods of indecision shouldn’t be looked at as a step backwards because most women who are involved in abusive relationships attempt to leave several times before they’re ready to leave for good. It’s all part of the process that they have to go through.

Here’s another poem I wrote during that difficult time.

Please Don’t Ask Me

Please don’t ask me to help you stay
because I know too much to pretend,
that everything will be okay.

Never say never, you say,
for people change all the time
But how long will that change last,
when it happens on a dime?

You’ve been down this road so many times before,
he says he’s sorry and hugs you now and then
But it isn’t long before the abuse,
starts all over again.

After the storm passes, he lets down his guard,
and returns to his mean-spirited ways
Then when you put your foot down again,
the change is like night and day.

“I love you, I need you, I can’t live without you,
I’d give you my last drop of blood,” he proclaims.
Then why does he still lie and criticize,
and why does he keep calling you names?

He’s shown his true colors, time and again,
and a tiger can’t change his stripes
What he says and what he does are two different things,
it’s all just a whole lot of hype.

Please don’t be afraid to reach out for help,
for help is all around you
You have family and friends and God above,
and with their love they will surround you.

But please don’t ask me to help you stay,
I know too much to pretend
that everything will be okay.

Written by Eileen Umbehr
October 1, 2001

One day I told my sister that it seemed as if she was watering a dead plant. Her husband had killed their relationship with his verbal and emotional cruelty, as well as with his lies and betrayal. Then she replied that there was actually a dead tomato plant in her garden that she had been watering faithfully. Hope springs eternal, and my sister didn’t want to give up on the plant or the marriage, even though all outward signs indicated that neither one of them were coming back. Despite her optimism and best efforts to revive them, restoration was not to be.

To use another example, one time lightning struck a great, old cedar tree in our front yard. We hated to lose it, so we decided to try to preserve part of it by fashioning a bench out of the wood. We used the stump for one end, and then Keen made another end – placing a bench in the middle between the two. For awhile, we really enjoyed our cedar bench. In fact, it became our favorite spot to pose for pictures. But eventually the wood rotted and we had to haul it off. Sometimes you just have to accept that something (or someone) you loved is gone and there is nothing left to salvage.

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
~ Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

Yes, the truth hurts – but ignoring it doesn’t change reality or make it go away. In closing, I’d like to share the words of a song that was recorded by Blackhawk titled, “I Sure Can Smell the Rain.”

She hasn’t done a thing
That really has to mean she’s going anywhere
I haven’t seen it showing in her eyes
But I swear it must be there
I don’t know why I feel it so strong
But I feel it just the same
I can’t see a single storm cloud in the sky
But I sure can smell the rain

She’d still say I love you if I ask
But she never volunteers
Somehow what she never says
Means more than all the other words I hear
Still she should win an Oscar
If she’s lying when she says that nothing’s changed
I can’t see a single storm cloud in the sky
But I sure can smell the rain

Every day I brace myself
To hear the words I’m scared she’s gonna say
And every night I thank the Lord
Somehow I dodged a bullet one more day
Sometimes there are things a man just knows
That he really can’t explain
I can’t see a single storm cloud in the sky
But I sure can smell the rain

I can’t see a single storm cloud in the sky
But I sure can smell the rain

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body…”

~ Ephesians 4:25