“I’m just living my truth.”
My husband and I frequently laugh over this phrase when it pops up in reality TV shows. Usually, it has little to do with Truth as an absolute. Rather, it means truth as a way of seeing and perceiving the world.
And if living your truth means simply living from your own unique perspective, then it leaves very little opportunity to live under the direction of a constant, absolute truth.
“Living your truth” can change based on your experience, on a conscious or subconscious level. The subconscious mind informs the brain at a far faster rate than the conscious mind can register. So, basing your truth, your authenticity as a human, on your perception of the world may be left to that which you aren’t even fully registering with your thinking mind!
So why do so many still cling to the idea of living their truth?
What most affects our culture’s desire to “live my truth”?
A recent study on personality published in Personality and Individual Differences evaluated whether the need to be true to yourself is based on individual factors or external validation. The study determined that external influence has the most profound effect on authenticity.
While it may seem like a logical conclusion that, thanks to the internet, we are more connected than ever before, the opposite is true. We are living in increasingly lonely times. In fact, even though most people during the Covid-19 pandemic were able to stay connected to others through Zoom meetings and social media, research published in the journal American Psychologist highlights that loneliness has increased on average by 5 percent across the globe. A 5 percent increase may not seem like a lot, but since trends in loneliness were increasing before the pandemic, it tells us much about our current state.
Humans are beings of belonging. We all have an inner desire to belong to a tribe and a community. Evolutionary scientists would say that our need to belong is due to the need to survive. As a Creationist, I believe that our desire for belonging stems from our need to be connected to our Creator, to something bigger than ourselves. As C. S. Lewis famously put it, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Our need for belonging is often partnered with our desire to be fully known and fully loved for who we are, as we are. So, as Bible-believing Christians, what is determining our beliefs about who we are? What is “our truth?”
Logically, one would assume that Christians receive external validation from the greater belief system in a God who loves us and wants to live in close relationship with us.
But this is where things get muddy.
Research (PDF) tells us that while 68 percent of self-identified Christians claim to have a biblical worldview, only 9 percent of Christians actually do.
This leads me to wonder how 9 percent of self-proclaimed Christians are “living their truth.”
A conflict of interest?
On one hand, the research demonstrates that knowing who you are as an individual is validated by external influence. But on the other hand, the truth of who we are as individuals hovers on a shaky foundation, even for nominal Christians.
It logically can’t be both. I can’t live my truth as I see it while also receiving my identity from an outside source or label. I can’t determine my value for myself while also depending on an outside source for value. Because I can’t depend on an outside source for my value if I don’t have a foundation to stand on.
In a culture where loneliness, mental health issues, and a lack of identity continue to dramatically increase, there is more of a need than ever before to be grounded in the truth that never changes.
What is the implication for believers? How are we as Bible-believing Christians supposed to live in truth as Jesus did as opposed to living out our own subjective truth based solely on our perception of the world around us?
A different kind of mindfulness
In Romans 12:2, we are called not to conform to the patterns of the world and to renew our minds. For many believers, that seems to be just another item on the checklist that we need to accomplish in our own human strength.
Yet mental renewal is not a simple act of discipline. In 1 Corinthians 2:16, we are told that we “have the mind of Christ.” Because we have the mind of Christ, even the act of renewing our mind is different from the patterns of the world.
Mindfulness is an increasingly popular phrase, and I have interviewed several experts on the topic for my podcast, Sparking Wholeness. But even the mindfulness of this world is different from the mindfulness we receive when the renewing of our minds is guided by our Creator.
Being mindful creates intentional awareness of what we are thinking, feeling, and doing. As a believer, that awareness has an extra filter added to it. That filter is the knowledge that, at the root of everything I think, feel, and do, my identity lies in the one who masterfully created me for good works prepared beforehand (Ephesians 2:10).
My knowledge of who I am doesn’t rely on my own perception or truth, others’ validation of me, but on the truth of who my heavenly Father says I am.
While others determine their identity and worth based on shifting sand, believers have a foundation built on solid rock (Matthew 7:24–27). Thankfully, we have been given many opportunities to keep our foundation grounded in the never-changing truth.
How to assess your truth foundation
1. Engage in the word.
God’s word should be the guiding force behind everything we do. It is a lamp to our feet (Psalm 119:105). With continual exposure to the truth of God’s word as our prominent external influence on who we are, we can begin to shift our patterns of conformity to this world and on to the mental renewal that comes from our intimate relationship with God.
2. Engage with other believers.
We are shaped by those whom we spend the most time with. Recent surveys show that in the last thirty years, the number of Americans with close friends is sharply declining, with male friendships being cut in half.
As believers, we have a responsibility to follow the example of Jesus and create community. By surrounding ourselves with others who are also placing their foundation in the truth of their identity in Christ, we spur on our own growth in who we are as a result.
3. Engage in worship.
While corporate church worship always supports our intrinsic need for belonging, worship can be a day-to-day reflection of how we live our lives as a response to God’s invitation to community in him. Spending time in prayer, gratitude, or even singing further solidifies our foundation of the truth of who we are in Christ.
While the truth of who we are is so often determined by the external influences in our lives, we must ensure that our external influences line up with the unshaken, unwavering truth found in Jesus Christ. When we place our foundation in the truth of his gospel and when we live our lives in light of the never-changing nature of God, then we are truly able to know and live our truth.