Children will always tell the truth unless an adult teaches them to do otherwise. I recall speaking with a group of children at Saint Peter Nursery and Primary School, in Ndeaboh, Enugu State, Nigeria. The simplicity and the truthfulness of these children kept me wondering about, and reflecting on, my life as a religious. The way they related with one another was challenging; they kept no record of hurts, and they let-go easily.
What stops me from letting go of hurts like these children? Answering this question is an everyday struggle for me. I watched them tell their stories with a profound trust, not holding anything back. It's so amazing to hear children speak truthfully with simplicity on issues when you ask them a question!
Once a child trusts you, he/she believes that you cannot hurt or betray that trust. No wonder Jesus tells us to become like little children to enter the kingdom of God!
Telling the truth is everybody's business. Many of the social injustices faced in the world today are the result of truth being sacrificed on the altar of falsehood. Our world needs to embrace truth in order to do away with different vices that keep us being enemies to ourselves.
How sincere I am makes me different from the crowd. To tell and receive truth is liberating and energizing, freeing me from the falsehood that enslaves me. Sometimes it is difficult to receive the truth told to me because it's like standing naked in a public place. Accepting that truth takes a lot of courage, especially when it affects one's personal life. But an informed conscience will be ever open to the truth about the realities of life, especially those affecting our personal lives.
God has blessed us in so many ways and I need the grace of God to accept and change what I can in my life. It becomes easier for me to accept the truth when I look at Jesus on the cross. Truth is like a crystal that one can see through. It helps me see things clearly and decide appropriately. I often wonder why I shy away from either telling others the truth about themselves or hearing the truth about myself from others.
In today's world that has a lot of hatred and falsehood, I am called to be a carrier of the good news of Christ. In doing this noble task I need to be truthful since Christ has called me to be light in mist of darkness. I also need to be docile to the Holy Spirit so I can be enlightened. No one can achieve anything positive in falsehood. The sincerity and the simplicity of a child are what I need to be a true religious so that my life as the bride of Christ speaks louder than my words.
As a religious if I am void of truth no one will trust or confide in me. A lot of people long to share their experiences with us, but when trust is lacking they prefer to hold back their experiences and feelings. When that happens my role as a religious in being available to the people of God is defeated.
Jesus says to me and to my brothers and sisters that we are the light and salt of the world. So in my relationship with others my light ought to shine to dispel the darkness of falsehood in myself and others. It is very contagious. Truth begets justice and healing. It fosters good relationships, though those who prefer falsehood to truth find it extremely hard to accept a kind gesture. Peace and love radiate whenever truth is welcomed and the mind finds joy and happiness. Opening the mind to hear the truth on any issue and accepting it brings a profound peace.
Everyone is called to be a transforming light in truth. Let no one allow falsehood to bind them because of fear. If fear, which is known as False Enemy Appearing Real, is given room it binds its victims' hands and feet. It cripples and prevents people from being truthful.
One needs courage to say the truth at all times. The impact of truth on everyone's life can never be over emphasized. Lives of others would be transformed just like the life of Nicodemus in the gospel. Jesus opened his eyes to see the truth about the kingdom of God.
I trust that the Holy Spirit will make our hearts open and ready to seek and accept truth in its totality, like children. It is liberating, healing, transforming, energizing, reviving and peaceful.
[Teresa Anyabuike is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. She is the coordinator of Catholic Community Self-help Association, a department in Justice Development and Peace Mission, Ilorin diocese, Kwara State. She likes working with children because of their simplicity which challenges her.]
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