Saturday, February 9, 2013

Facts vs. Truth

Poet Maya Angelou posted this on her Facebook page, "There's a world of difference between truth and facts.  Facts can obscure the truth."

Oh how many times we allow facts to obscure the truth.  Worse - we don't allow truth to shine through the facts!  Tragic.

I accept the fact that the truth of our family experience will never be accepted by those whose pride won't allow them to see past the facts they think they know.  The minds of those people were long ago made up, but I continue to pray that others will see our life as a cautionary tale and will do better.

As a single raindrop on a quiet pond sends ripples out to all the shores, so it is with spoken words - they send out ripples that can't be taken back.

I was the director of a project.  The leader/friend that I loved so much "heard" me say about another woman on the team, "If you decide to put (that woman) in charge, I won't do that." That's a fact.  He told his assistant, who told his wife, who told (that woman), and the ripples of discontent and anger tore away at the shoreline that was my life and my reputation!

Then there's truth.

The man I so deeply loved and respected had misheard me.  What I said was, "If you decide to put (that woman) in charge, I'll need to know that."  My statement had NOTHING to do with the woman, but everything to do with the man.  He was uncomfortable with confrontation and I'd watched him dismiss other people based on gossip or hearsay.  I just didn't want that to happen to me.  I wanted to believe I was more important and more valued.

Everything I said after that was heard through the Liz-doesn't-like-(that woman) filter.  Nothing could have been further from the truth. (That woman) was a friend for whom I had respect and love.  She did, however, drop the ball on a number of occasions and as the director of the team, I was frustrated by her lack of professionalism.  That didn't change the fact that I loved her.

From that one simple misheard statement, ripples became waves, and waves became tsunamis, and the spiritual and social landscape of our life was forever changed.  I was judged, condemned, fired, and eventually forced to leave the church and all our so-called friends.  Our kids rebelled and turned to drugs.  My children have all said the downward spiral of discouragement and bad choices began with that one tiny ripple that was a misheard word.  My kids lost every friend they'd ever had and we were all so sad and alone.

The assistant has his opinions about me. (That woman) hates me to this day.  My best friend knew the truth and failed to have my back.

This happens every day.  A married woman is seen coming out of another man's home in the middle of the night.  That might be a fact, but the truth is that her husband is still inside and they've been comforting a friend.  But the "fact" is seen by the wrong person, and a lie becomes truth.

Innocent men have gone to jail because facts obscure the truth.  A couple has sex, then he doesn't call her.  She gets angry.  She accuses him of rape.  Facts support her accusation, and he's condemned.  Tragic!

We do it all the time.  We gossip and lie and manipulate and we fail to see the truth for the facts.

Maya Angelou said, "I've lived 84 years and I've learned there's a world of difference between truth and facts."  I'm so glad I've learned this truth at my "young" age.