12/15/2014 05:26 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Treasure Hunt for Truth


My sister-in-law and I used to get up early on Saturday mornings, grab a beverage and hit the garage sales. Her first child was only a toddler and I was in my first apartment. Prime garage sale circumstances.

We were garage sale snobs. We beautifully mastered the "garage sale disgrace." We would drive by the garage sale very slowly. The passenger would give the sale a quick inspection. If your sale wasn't stop-worthy, we'd give you the drive-by. So many garages, so little time. You gotta really know who you are to be snooty when purchasing other people's garbage.

We would enjoy the signs of the rookie garage salers. We'd mock, "They actually wrote their address. Arrows, people. All we need is arrows." Or "Pahleeeez, you can't call it a multi-family sale just because your neighbor brought over an old lamp." We had such fun on those bright, spring mornings.

I am now twice the age I was when we were perusing the toy graveyards. My sister-in-law and precious friend has since passed away. I don't frequent the sales anymore, but the signs still catch my eye.

Recently, I was driving across town and saw one particular sign. It said, "Garage Sale. Buy Our Junk. We Need Your Money." With a big smiley faced arrow pointing left.

I was pulled by the honesty of that simple sign. There is something about truth telling that draws us. Something so attractive and appealing about authenticity that it stops us in our tracks. The draw of transparency is astonishing in a toxic world of inflated half-truths. Truth is fresh air.

When someone tells the truth to a precious friend over coffee, in a meeting at work, in group therapy, a recovery meeting, or bravely in a gathering of strangers... the air in the room changes. Desire begins to breathe. You can almost hear the steady, subtle beat of the hearts of others in the room pounding out, "more truth... more truth... more truth." It draws us in.

It starts with telling ourselves the truth. Are we brave enough to consider such a thing? The real truth? The truth about the experiences hidden in the cellars of our souls. All the things we've concealed from ourselves and others. What would it be like to look right at those fragmented, shame filled, rusty places in our hearts?

Usually the reason we don't is because somewhere in our past we did tell the truth about our most intimate longing, passion, or pain and it was shamed and rejected.

Perhaps your truth telling wasn't the problem. The problem may be that the other person is uncomfortable with their own wounds, so the other person is unable or unwilling to hear yours. That is about their journey, not a reflection of your worth.

Your truth telling is a treasure to be protected and honored. There is an inherent risk in truth telling, so the first step is to find a safe place with safe people and then observe.

First, you might need a sign indicating some authenticity. Then, you might do a drive-by to get a lay of the land. What do things look like from a distance? Truth can be rough. Truth can be stark, but when we see the real thing and feel safe, we can't help but want more of it.

Truth has it's own gravitational pull.

Find a place where you hear others being gentle and brave in their vulnerability. Take a breath, steady yourself, and lean in just a bit. If they are who they say they are, they will be patient and encouraging. They will not be perfect, but neither will they be threatened by your longing or pain.

You'll want to pull over and check things out when you find consistency. When you see people taking responsibility for their own feelings and behaviors. When you hear people apologizing to each other. When you observe that kindness, humility, and courage are the standard.

Remember, everyone has old, tattered, junk, so it may not be very pretty at first. But, pay attention. You never know what treasure of truth you'll find under a scruffy, tarnished life.