The Best Policy

It is hard to forget the stab of guilt that cleaved the heart whenever, “tell the truth and shame the devil,” was declared with a stern tone and pointed fingers on the playground. The invocation of religiosity was often too great for the lie to bear, crushing it and squeezing the truth out in sheepish tones uttered with unease and at times, bowed heads.

Perhaps it was not so much the weight of religiosity that brought out the truth but the childlike propensity for disclosure and openness, a propensity we discard when we learn to associate vulnerability with weakness.

Vulnerability can only comfortably stand on trust and therein lies the trouble. We cannot be vulnerable with God because we do not trust Him. How difficult it is to trust a God we misunderstand. Through dour indoctrination and inherited inclination, we have come to see God as a sombre algorithm, studying and weighing us, ready to delete any aberrant people. No wonder we cower in His presence, drawing our fig leaf aprons about ourselves in a vain attempt at concealment.

Sometimes we hide behind the truth, lashing out at those who dare call us out by pointing out their flaws and aberrations. Sometimes we deceive with the truth by admitting to lesser flaws to avoid talking about the bigger deeper problems. Such is the magnitude of our desperation, our desire to hide from God.

What if we looked at it from another angle? What if we realised that we are not in trouble but we are dying? What if we realised that it is not God that is deadly but our flaws? That would require a greater level of maturity. Every child must move from, “I don’t touch the stove because my mummy said so,” to “I don’t touch the stove because I’d rather not burn my hand,” to, “I am careful to not burn my hands when I’m cooking.” The underlying principle at each stage is, be safe.

It is our flaws that are dangerous, not God. Placing a high premium on our freedom, He cannot heal any flaw that we refuse to surrender to Him. Honesty or openness is in our best interests, to be sure, but the need for it goes beyond survival. Honesty enables us to fully experience God. There is nothing as reassuring as the companionship of one who knows all about you but instead of turning away in disgust, draws closer.

Relationship is the sharing of oneself with the other. It is the calm respectful knowledge that no flaw can dim the light of acceptance. It is the reassurance that the scalpel is brandished to excise and not kill, that the sting of surgery will be dissolved in the embrace of acceptance. God has furnished evidence that our perfidy can never dissipate His longing for us, that if we should perish, we have only ourselves to blame. There is no need to hide. Honesty really is the best policy. There is just no other way to live.

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