In a reporting class, I took in college, if a student’s article had any factual errors, the instructor automatically took 50 points off their grade. It didn’t matter how insignificant the mistake was it resulted in an inevitable failure on the assignment. Fact checking was more important than your lead, punctuation, or your inverted pyramid. The paramount significance of accuracy in news reporting was underscored.
While the search for truth was drilled into me, when I examine the stories of my own mind, I question why they contain so many inaccuracies. If I were to grade myself most days, I would be in negative numbers for the stories I create about how others feel, the significance of an encounter, and the value of my contributions in various circumstances.
Too often the truth of who I am gets clouded by feelings. For most of my life, I considered my feelings and the feelings of others to be more important than anything else. It’s easy to believe that there’s nothing wrong with this way of thinking, even that it’s a noble pursuit. Perhaps if we could trust the accuracy of our feelings, this would be true. But feelings are often to blame for facts being distorted into fiction.
A spiritual battle exists for the truth. We feel like we aren’t enough when we measure ourselves against things of the world, but God already decided we were enough when he died on the cross for our redemption. It’s tempting to think that because we feel something strongly it must be true. It’s easy to be swept away in the emotions of our existence: fear, jealousy, inadequacy, desire, and discouragement.
But these things are fleeting, not factual. They are emotions, intertwined with mood, motivations, and often whether or not we have eaten in the last three hours. I create unnecessary pain and angst, when I let my emotions guide me.
“Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14).
It is important to armor ourselves with the truth. We need to fact check the lies we tell ourselves so we can see the truth of who God intends for us to be and how much he already loves us right now. When you believe in God’s goodness and begin to trust in his plan for your life, it is easier to view emotions as fleeting. I have often heard that happiness is based on circumstances, but joy is from God, existing regardless of the ebb and flow of our situations.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
I don’t know why it’s easier to believe the bad stuff about ourselves rather than the good. I don’t know why there is the inclination to define our truths by what we feel at any given moment. I just know that sometimes I feel like I have little yellow emoticons floating like bubbles in my head, and too often I am letting these caricatures steal my peace.
Armored with the truth of God, discernment becomes clear, and falsehoods are easily identified and dismissed. The peace that is from God is true peace. It doesn’t vacillate, waver, or fictionalize regardless of situations or circumstances. That’s a fact, a truth that, if we live by, gives a whole new meaning to making the grade.
Miss last week’s post: FOMO and the Season of Advent