Why I Tell Lies (and other unresolved tension)


My wife will often ask me, “Do you know that, or are you just making something up?”

It’s not random, it’s an honest question,
and probably because I have just made a statement
that may or may not actually be filled with truthiness.

It could be real, it could be crap.

Men make stuff up.
We do.
We get uncomfortable with not knowing and boldly fill in gaps.
We don’t want to feel stupid,
So we take an opportunity to feel smart…even if it’s stupid.

We are most definitely not lying…or at least not intending to,
We are making a persuasive guess.
We do this because we are uncomfortable with unresolved tension.
If there is something knowable that is unknown and can be known,
Then we simply provide the knowledge, whether its known or not.
See how we help the process?

Caravaggio did this with historical proportion.
His painting “Doubting Thomas” records a moment that didn’t actually happen.
Thomas never did actually touch Jesus.

After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “ Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “ Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!” Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:26-28

He was invited to dig into Christ’s wounds, but he didn’t.
(Well, it’s not recorded anyway)
I know why he painted it that way…
There’s tension and you can’t paint a picture of someone not touching Jesus.

See how this happens?
Caravaggio didn’t do anything wrong.
He used his imagination and is remembered throughout time immemorial.

That’s all We’re trying to do.
Maybe one of our persuasive guesses will heal the land,
Or vanquish freezer burn, or invent odorless carpet,
Or create a seventh Star Wars movie…

  • Suelkilpatrick

    You are amazing. You even know your art!
    I don’t think though, this applies only to men. I am speaking for myself-I like to know stuff and be accurate. No amount of reading etc., can guarantee this. Truth is stretched ….     Sorry if I took your “men make stuff up” and tossed it into the trash. But you need to know women are not angels (maybe Rebecca is), close to, but not quite!
       Have a good weekend with your angel!      GREG WILL BE HERE IN DAYS!

  • Sheryl O’Bryan

    I agree with Sue–for the most part.  I think women are better with embracing ambiguity, with living with the tension of not knowing.  Not all of us, and not every time, but often. 

    I think Thomas’ action is implied in the passage.  Of course, you’re right, we don’t know if the implication is correct or not, but even if Thomas didn’t touch, he saw.  He’s such a Meyers-Briggs S!

    As for men and their ability to . . . ummm . . . extrapolate . . . sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s a trust buster.  One of my colleagues writes the funniest emails.  His opening paragraphs are filled with a pretend history of our town.  98% of the time there is no truth in them.  Now that I know that, I enjoy his missives.  On the other hand, I’ve known too many men who make me feel the need to research (or at least doubt) their statements.  I hear them through a filter of skepticism.

    Now–how about a sermon in December based on a Star Wars scenario?  That would rock.  The Gospel according to George Lucas.  Go for it!

  • prophetsandpopstars

    OH MY GOSH! That’s genius! 
    Now I have to do my homework and watch countless hours of Lucas films. The world needs good news. 

    We all fill in gaps…I just like to think that I do it with creative flavors of truthiness. 

  • prophetsandpopstars

    Rebecca’s pretty angelic. She has a gift for coping with my factitious imagination. I’m sure she’s made up a thing or two, it just seems to make more sense when she says it. 

  • DrAletta

    Hm. Yeah. I’m married to a scientist who drove me crazy with his need for fact-based detail. The day he could veer off the Truth Road with a ‘what if’ scenario that was playful and fun I was in heaven. Progress! So on one hand I agree with you. There’s no harm in playful truth stretching.

    On the other… I see a lot of men in my practice and their need to not feel stupid can seriously get in their way. Avoiding reality “because we are uncomfortable with unresolved tension,” and making stuff up to fill in the gaps, can cause greater anxiety and depression than facing the truth ever could. It can also play havoc in a relationship.

  • prophetsandpopstars

    Agreed. Definitely truth in my life. 

    As a pastor/preacher by calling and vocation, I’m learning that tension is something you can’t resolve all the time and you have to be OK with it just sort of hanging around. However, that doesn’t stop me answering questions at home that I have no clue as to what the real answer might be. It keeps the mind sharp and the love alive…or the opposite!?