Speaking the Truth 

Speak what you feel, not what you ought to say.

​And pain holds the possibility of returning us back to that ground. When tragedy affects us, there is no more room for pretense. When health is stolen from us, our false selves relax their controlling grip. All of a sudden we’re thrown into a raw, unfiltered space. We’re thrust into the boxing ring , and it feels like God is our greatest enemy. In these times, the fluff has to go. Throw out the self-help book. Refuse the Kleenex meant to clean you up quickly. Avert your eyes when the super-spiritual comforter comes with her encouraging Bible verse. Let your entire being descend into its earthy, rugged ground. “Speak what you feel, not what you ought to say.” 

Chuck DegroatFalling into Goodness 

“Speak what you feel, not what you ought to say.”  

The words sliced into my heart this morning with the precision of a Good and Perfect Physician’s cut. 

How much energy have I spent throughout my life determining what I ought to say to keep others happy and even God happy ?

In the absence of speaking what I really want to say, I have spoken what others need or expect me to say rather than what I need to say, and I have lost myself. 

As a Christian this behavior  seems so sacrificial, so spiritual, well meaning, and kind. It’s been easy to determine this the way God intended for us to live when others who are uncomfortable with our honesty shut down our words with scripture verses.  

And as a Christian, sometimes saying what keeps others happy can even feel like love. 

But it isn’t love; it’s codependency. It isn’t kindness or sacrifice. It’s a rope around the neck of our souls choking the life out of us. If our kindness comes from a place of insincerity it doesn’t do anyone any good, especially ourselves. 

Jesus said He desired mercy, not sacrifice, and worship that comes from an honest heart. A broken prostitute washing Jesus’ feet with her hair is the example He gives of true worship from a heart that received great mercy. 

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.

Luke 7:47 ESV

But there is great mercy for the codependent,too, when we are able to receive it and live it out. I’ve received it in spurts with overwhelming gratitude, allowing it to flow out to others with true mercy at times, but then only to return to my deeply ingrained habits that give me a false sense of control. True mercy gets choked out and sacrifice from my false self trying to keep everyone happy returns.   

Jesus has lived this struggle with me. He’s felt the pain as my stomach has churned with acid and twisted in knots for fear of how someone was going to react to what I said or did. 

He sees the little girl hiding in her room binging on horror movies, wanting to be brave like the characters on the screen facing their fears, but never finding the ability to do anything other than escape her pain momentarily. 

And He prays for me to be set free. 

What a loving and patient Heavenly Father we have. He knows all about our struggles, and we can trust Him to be with us even when we are falling back into our codependent patterns. 

But He’s also in a process of changing us, making us more like Him, setting us more and more free from the lie that tells us it’s not OK to say what our heart needs to speak. 

And here’s what mine needs to say: I’m tired, really tired of keeping others happy. I’m tired of allowing their behavior to control how good or bad my day will be. I’m tired of oppressive, unhappy people placing the responsibility of their happiness on me. If my best isn’t good enough then they can go and suck their thumb in another room! 

I’m also tired of thinking I need to do and say everything right for God to be pleased.It’s a lie from the pit of Hell and it smells like smoke, as Steve Brown likes to say. It’s a lie that keeps me from receiving true mercy and sharing it with others. 

May the truth of His mercy saturate and take root in my codependent heart and give me the courage to speak the truth! If you are struggling with codependency, I pray as you read this you’d have the courage to do the same. 

“Speak what you feel, not what you ought to say.”

Remember, blessed are the broken. On the wilderness journey of life, there is no path around, under, or over –only through. Don’t waste your time trying to figure it all out. Go through it, with boxing gloves on, honest as you can. Maybe, in the end, you’ll be able to surrender with Job. Maybe in the wordless ground of your being, connected again to your creation-dust, you’ll be able to say with Job I’m convinced: 

You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. Job 42: 1


God, I’d like to enter into a more honest place with you. In the midst of a world that sanitizes suffering, I want to be a person who has nothing to hide between us. Give me the courage to trust you with my whole heart and story. Amen. 

Chuck DegroatFalling into Goodness 

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