One day while working at a bank, I found a counterfeit $100 bill that was so convincing it fooled my own supervisor. It was “perfect” except for one small detail that made the false banknote stand out from a true one. With that, it dawned on me that if we knew the truth in any area of life and looked hard enough, the false would become apparent…
Truth Doesn’t Always Feel Good
Today, it seems that what people feel is often perceived to be of greater importance than objective truth itself. In order to find true happiness, we need to be honest about how we feel, but does it end with feelings?
I had all sorts of “truths” pushed onto me throughout my faith journey. Some of them contradicted others, so I simply rejected them all and instead focused on trying to recognize truths that were independent of my feelings. I began to ask bigger questions, like “what comes after death?” and it hit me like a ton of bricks: one day I will die, and when I die, my thoughts, perspectives, ideas, and opinions will die with me. And after that point, what will occur, will occur, no matter how I might feel about it today.
I realized there is a true order of creation that I merely operate within. Because I operate within this order and don’t make it up myself, I knew I needed to let go of false truths that merely “gave me permission” to live a lifestyle I wanted.
I asked myself, “Who am I to judge that my own judgments about truth are correct?” That was when I realized I needed guidance; I needed to look beyond myself.
The Church Upholds Truth
…My bank supervisor knew truth existed because she was stung with the $100 loss after accepting the false banknote. She only accepted that it was counterfeit after it was confirmed against the standard of truth by the police. In other words, the police merely upheld the truth that the counterfeit banknote was indeed counterfeit. That’s important to recognize because, in terms of the truths of our universe, that’s what the Church does, too… she simply upholds what God has made true in His order of creation.
In my pursuit of truth, over and over I’ve arrived at truths, only to find out they were already upheld by the Catholic Church. This really helped me see how my previous perspective about the Church “forcing” truth onto people was off the mark.
The reality is that the Church merely invites us to accept and embrace the truths it upholds, while inviting us to dig deeper. I have found great peace in doing so, and have all the while grown in my trust in the wisdom of the Church (even though sometimes people in the church do crazy things). The peace I experience today as a result of this is more satisfying than any counterfeit, no matter how attractive it may be.
The Truth Will Remain
If we wouldn’t accept a counterfeit banknote as a true one, why would we accept a counterfeit “truth” as an objective truth? Furthermore, why would we accept less than the fullness of truth in place of fullness of truth?
I used to feel attacked when someone challenged my perception of truth, but now I see that was merely a reflection my deep attachment to those false (or less than fully true) perceptions. Those perceptions provided me with a safe space where my fragile self wouldn’t be revealed, but that safe-space didn’t allow me to grow. Today, I am grateful for those who, through their loving example, encouraged me to continually pursue a more profound self-honesty about everything.
Those who drew me into this journey of pursuing truth were like gentle catalysts, motivating me to enter into the greater mystery of the Church. I listened to them because I trusted them and knew they truly cared about me, but most importantly because they always drew me toward greater holiness and never toward sin. That is what true accompaniment is. They seemed to prioritize the pursuit of truth above the pursuit of relationship, while still being relationally attentive. Through this, I was drawn further into the mystery and saw how the pursuit of truth could lead a person to God.
Pursuing Truth Today
Despite sinful behavior of people within the Church (including myself), the Church itself soldiers on because objective truth continues to exist. And the truths about our nature as persons are the same truths that existed before the Church was around to uphold them. Those are the truths that find their source in God and what he has written into our universe, both visibly and invisibly.
I arrived here as a matter of pursuing greater self-honesty, and through that, I experience an even greater degree of joy. The Church knows of the joy that awaits when you pursue the fullness of self-honesty about everything and wants us to arrive at that joy.
The question is this: To what degree do we prayerfully engage ourselves within this pursuit?