Truth and Love & the Stockdale Paradox

And Jesus gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. – Ephesians 4:8-16

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Taken in the Wonders Of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium | Springfield, MO | October 2019

Imagine this: You’ve finished your Thanksgiving dinner and now heading out the door for a walk. You happen upon a new neighbor and strike up a conversation. You couldn’t quite figure out why the neighbor had such a funny look on his face the whole time of your conversation…until you get back home and happen to catch your reflection in the mirror. You had a big glob of gravy on your shirt. A big glob of gravy. Ugh!

Why didn’t someone tell you as you went out the door, “Hey Dad! You’ve got a big glob of gravy on your shirt!” No truth there. It would have been better to have known the truth.

Scene 2: You’re just finishing your workout. You’ve made some progress but you still have a long way to go. You’re heading out the door of the gym when your trainer says, “I’m not sure we can help you. You’re too far out of shape.”

[Neither of these examples is autobiographical!]

Dismissal. Lack of commitment. Failure to love. These are not the hallmarks of truth spoken in love.

Navy Admiral Stockdale is credited with postulating the Stockdale Paradox. It has to do with surviving severe hardship and  succeeding in life. The paradox boils down to the need to Face the Brutal Facts,  while Holding onto Hope. If you don’t face the brutal facts you’ll never be able to navigate the challenges before you effectively. But if you have no hope you’ll likely not try.

Today I’m thankful for people who love me enough to tell me if I’ve got a glob of gravy on my shirt, and who are kind and loving to me in the process. There are plenty of brutal facts to face in all of our lives. Thank God for the loving people in our lives who stand with us as we face them, and who speak truth and love together to our hearts.

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