What makes truth painful?  Our reaction to it.  If we fight it, it hurts, if we embrace it, we love it.

There is a radio personality based in Atlanta, Georgia who calls himself the “High Priest of the Church of the Painful Truth.

While this title is fanciful and meant to be entertaining, this self-selected moniker touches on some underlying truths.

Name Calling

When I was younger, name calling hurt my feelings when I thought [or more accurately, KNEW] the labels applied to me were true.  It also hurt because even when not true, I knew they were trying to be mean to me and it bothered me.

A similar phenomenon occurs today with people who run from their religion or people who they disagree with.   This is of course not true in all cases, but is a common enough occurrence to warrant notice.

Pain Resulting From Truth

The pain resulting from a truthful statement is based on our reaction to it.

If I am told I need to lose weight or I will die prematurely [true], it only hurts if I feel powerless to do anything about it or if I am unwilling to accept that as a true statement.  If I feel empowered or inspired to action because of this reminder of my own mortality and my role in prolonging my life, then it serves as a wise reminder to make better choices.  If I instead believe the statement is a lie and fight against this statement with a full litany of justifications and explanations why I should not change my behavior, reminders that I am on a collision course with an early death will be painful.

This kind of pain also resonates with religious truth.  If the truth is that I need to change my life because I have sinful ideas or choices that I have embraced [true], it only hurts if I continue to justify my wrongly held beliefs or bad actions.  If I embrace my need to repent and further follow God in my mind and heart, then these reminders of my own failings are inspiring to better action instead of being painful.

Mistakenly Believing Statements  “I once thought I was wrong, but later realized I was mistaken.”

Some statements are painful because we believe they are true when they are not.  Anyone who has heard a devastating rumor later proven to be a lie knows what this is about.  Sometimes we are taken in with a lie that is very persuasive and damaging.  The only thing that makes these lies powerful is that people believed them.

Knowing the Difference

It can be very difficult to know if the pain we feel is because something is true or if it is because we only believe it is true.  There is a reliable truth detector outside of our own thoughts and feelings.

As Latter-Day-Saints, we can seek personal revelation on many things.  We are empowered to receive revelation and receive answers.

How do I know when I have received a truthful answer and have not just been tricked?  When revelation often happens through emotions, thoughts, and feelings, it can be easy to fool yourself into believing the wrong things.  It can be easy to do.

It is also possible to receive revelation about future changes in policy as has been reported by many people prior to a certain revelation announced in 1978.

Here is the method I use to measure personal revelation against, which I seem to remember was also recommended by Elder Dallin H. Oaks.  It helps me choose which ideas to act on.

I compare my personal thoughts and feelings to scripture and measure it to see if it is compatible with scripture.  I also compare it to current teachings.  If my personal revelation is harmonious with gospel principles [not in some tortured reading] then the revelation is from God.  If the comparison shows my personal revelation is not in harmony with scripture and current teachings, then I need to re-consider.

It might be possible that I have received a revelation regarding a future change in policy.  If the personal revelation is correct, it is not my place to proselyte for that possible truth or advocate for it.  I should have the spiritual maturity to simply SHUT UP ABOUT IT.  It is my role to patiently bide my time living according to the truths currently taught in the church because no matter how carefully I live, I might still be mistaken.  Because of the risk involved, I certainly shouldn’t act on these ideas that are contrary to the current revealed word of God.  That is part of the purpose of Prophets and scripture, to help protect us against skillful deception.

Avoiding Painful Truth

The best way to avoid painful truth is to do some soul-searching [and scripture searching] to determine the truth and then to embrace it.

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