I’ve been bad at telling the truth. 

Oh, I’m great at being honest. Sometimes I think I shock people a little too much when they ask me cheerfully, “How are you?”, and I respond with Umm, I’m tired. Had a long day. Or, Please, don’t ask. I seem to cry every worship time, tears roll down my cheek when I have an extended one-on-one conversation with anyone. Yeah, I’m great at being honest.
But there’s a deeper level of truth-telling that I’ve discovered– and I’m bad at it.
As a child, I operated in the black and white. Something was right or wrong, hyperbole and exaggeration was the enemy of the truth. I knew the tongue had power, and I didn’t want to load more than I could shoot. Yet somewhere in between learning to follow Jesus and have integrity with my words, I forgot what it was to express the language of my heart.
Then, I read the Psalms.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? (Psalm 22:1, NIV)
The black-and-white, dare I say, religious way I approached these outbursts of emotion didn’t get why this was in the Bible. It’s not true! God hadn’t forsaken David! He heard his cries for help! Then one day my dad commented that in the Psalms there was the truth of what was happening and emotional truth. Just because God was just about to save him, didn’t make David’s prior feelings of abandonment any less true.
He was telling the truth of his heart. 

Me, I just avoid exaggeration.

But– should we avoid it? To someone who is grieving, one name can be a tsunami of tears. To someone who is broken-hearted, one scent can be a gas chamber. To someone who is attempting to heal, one nudge can be what reopens the wound again. You wouldn’t ever blame them for exaggerating. It’s the truth of their heart, and you would want to listen.

But– what about when you can’t see their grief? What if you don’t know they’re broken-hearted? What if you had no idea that wound was even there?
Well, I suspect they’ll just get comfy with your cluelessness. They’ll learn to brush off that name, that scent, that nudge and ignore how it affects them. It’s far easier to live in other people’s perceptions that nothing is wrong, than to own up to the gut-wrenching reality of hidden pain.
Yet last week, after a long day and tears rolling down my cheek, I couldn’t do that anymore.
Instead there was a constant, inner nudge from a voice I knew well.
Tell the truth, Kayla. Tell the truth. 
So I picked up my pen… and finally…  exaggerated.
They’re all just simple things, 
Or so I say,
Yet I forget I’m drugged up good,
Wincing from the foaming sting,
Trapped in surgery for days on end.

All the moments I saw as “just simple things”,
You call out 
What they really are–
Instead of writing them off as “insignificant things”
You call out 
How You experience them…
Then, the words I’d recently scribbled at the dock on Myalls Lakes came to mind.
Kayla, I see you. I am not just one who talks about your surface life. I see the very innards of your heart. I live here, remember? I feel every shudder, every tear cried and every tear held back, I feel each earthquake within its walls… I don’t run away from how you are feeling.
Wait… He called my shudders His earthquakes? He called my tears His floods? And, wonder of wonders, yes– He called my heart His home. With all its mess, with all its scars, with all its natural disasters. He lived there and He still loved me.
Recently, I’ve been bad at telling the truth of my heart, because bare words didn’t seem enough. But that was only until I found out that Jesus exaggerated, too.
Or maybe, He wasn’t exaggerating His heart at all.
Maybe, just maybe, He was the most honest of all.
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” 
(which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)
–Matthew 27:46 (NIV)
Photos: Me, Kaylea, and Lia at Caves Beach. New South Wales, Australia. Photos by Lia Dalpini. February 2016.