The Truth My Heart Knows
By Karen O'Connor
-- The phone rang just as I was pouring soup into bowls and pulling hot rolls from the oven. "Karen, hi. I hope I didn't catch you eating dinner."
"Oh no," I lied. "I have a few minutes. Who's this?"
"Rhonda," the woman replied. "Remember me? I met you on a hike last year."
Rhonda, of course. Instantly I recalled her face and her infectious laugh. She was such fun to be with. What a great time we had shared that day--instant rapport. At the end of the hike, we had hugged good-bye, exchanged phone numbers, and promised to keep in touch. But neither of us had kept our word.
"How nice to hear your voice," I said, as I juggled the phone with one hand and the soup with the other.
"I called to invite you to a presentation at my house Next Saturday," she said. "I'm starting a new home-based business and I'm asking my friends to look at the products and give me some feedback. It's a line of clothing for women. I thought you might be interested. And it would be a great chance to see you again."
I agreed it would be nice to see her too. Yet that very day I had promised myself I would not take on any new social engagements until I completed my next writing project, due the week after her event. I noticed how difficult it was for me to simply tell the truth. I wanted to say yes--so she wouldn't be disappointed. At the same time I wanted to say no--so I wouldn't put myself in a bind. I thought of a third option--tell her I'd call her back after I checked my calendar. Then a fourth idea occurred to me. Say yes, and see how it goes. Maybe it would work out after all. I could always call and cancel the day before.
Lies, lies, and more lies. Why couldn't I just say, "Thanks, I'll be there," and then do what I said I'd do OR say, "Thanks, but I can't make it," and tell her why.
I paused for another moment, heart pounding. Then I just blurted out the truth. And Rhonda was perfectly fine with it--totally understanding and supportive. She even said she'd pray for me so I'd meet my deadline without stress.
It felt good to say what I meant, simply and clearly, without apology or pretense. It was the right thing to do and I finally did it--though it took long enough! But why the struggle? Why didn't I tell her when she called that we were about to have dinner and I'd call her back? Later I'd have been able to give her my full attention and interest and inquire about her project with enthusiasm. And even though I wasn't able to attend the presentation at least I would have been available to her in that moment on the phone.
"Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this" (Psalm 37:5 NIV).
As I look back on my life I see many examples of this lack of integrity--even though I am considered by most people to be a person they can count on. By and large I am. But there are those nooks and crannies in my life where the dust collects, where I cut corners, where I close my eyes to the debris that is accumulating.
But now I see that keeping my word is really a duty, in the highest sense. It is something I not only owe other people--but I owe it to God and myself, as well. And as I give I receive. When I am truly present to what I say and mean and do, important things happen to others and to me. I am renewed in friendship and love. Rhonda's response was a perfect example of that. And I am restored emotionally and spiritually. I feel peaceful when I stand for the truth and speak it.
I realize from my experience and from Scripture, that keeping my word is at the very core of the Christ-centered life.
"For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45 NIV).
When I am in line with the Spirit of God my mouth speaks the truth my heart knows!
Copyright © Karen O'Connor 2004, Reprinted with permission.
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Karen O'Connor is an award-winning author and popular speaker from Watsonville, California. www.karenoconnor.com
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