The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But

When presented with what seems indisputable, first-hand evidence, I have a remarkable ability to leap to wrong conclusions.

Decades ago, en route home from our honeymoon, the Preacher and I stopped overnight at my parents’ home. Another pair of visitors—only a few years further into their marriage—camped on an air mattress in the next room.

After everyone had gone to bed, to our dismay (okay…and amusement), a good deal of laughter, heavy breathing, and embarrassing comments migrated to us through the dividing wall.

The following morning, feeling it my sacred duty to advise more discretion, I took the wife aside. “Uh… we had a hard time getting to sleep last night.”

“Really? Why’s that?”

“Well….have you noticed how thin the walls are in this house?”

“No,” she answered, all innocence. “Why should I?”

“Well…we heard some….uh….sort of… (cough, cough—this was an entirely different era, remember) commotion after you went to bed.”

“Really?” She seemed puzzled.

“What commotion?”

“Well…comments, for one thing.”

“What comments?”

I told her, my face burning. To my surprise, she hooted in laughter—then explained the truth.

A quarter-century ago, air mattresses often had several separate chambers—one for the pillow, one for the mattress. Most people blew them up on lung power alone. It seems that when she and her husband had laid themselves down to sleep, their mattress had proven far too soft. They decided to change that—without getting up to turn on the light.

Seems they’d had big trouble finding both air-valves in the dark, and even bigger trouble getting the correct amount of air into them. It took forever to get it right, she said. When her husband had finally found the correct valve for the pillow, he’d blown in too much air—gotten the thing hard as rock.

The process set them gasping with giddiness. They must have been louder than they realized, she said. They never intended us to hear, she said—never suspected what we may imagine in our freshly married state.

As she explained what had really gone on on the other side of the wall, truth developed a whole new set of pictures in my head. Same captions, but accurate images.

I wish I could say that was the last time I leapt to delusions. Truth skews far too easily. The problem escalates when we report our assumptions to others—without searching out the full story.

Gossip. Shabby journalism. “Bearing false witness,” according to God. Gossip injures, whether delivered by mouth or media.

Even genuine incidents, when wrapped in the flimsy yellow rags of assumption and reported as truth, can inflict horrible, irrevocable damage. If you’ve ever been a victim, your wounds are likely still oozing.

Of all people, those who profess to be friends of Christ—Truth personified—should have a passion for seeking, and speaking, truth.

Lord, forgive us our assumptions, as we forgive those who assume against us.

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