Joy is Internal

We can make it our life goal to make things pleasant for ourselves, getting things more stable, more fun, and more luxurious, but all the while not feeling any joy. Or we can be obsessed with our troubles, constantly focused on all that is wrong and unfair, convinced that we will never feel peaceful so long as we are so burdened. But joy is a metric of an internal state, not an external one. It has nothing to do with either our comforts or our discomforts. Rather, it is directly proportional to our alignment with what is right and true.

When I am guilty of wrong, when I am hiding the gifts God gave me, when I am giving less than I know I could, then I will never feel joy, no matter the life that surrounds me.

On the other hand, when I have a clean conscience, when I am shining the light God gave me to shine, when I know that I gave it my genuine best, then I will always feel joy, no matter the life that surround me.

To Live Freely: Part Sixteen

I’ve spent the last few weeks talking about the truth, and how our souls are designed to live in harmony with it. This exercise has been helpful for me to mull over my inner thoughts and feelings, bringing them into fuller, rational definition. I have explored, I have discovered, and I have gathered into one place. The only things I haven’t done is sort and refine. It might be worth it to take my raw discoveries and organize and develop them. I will begin that process by giving a summary and categorization of my study thus far. Any further work beyond that would probably be better taken offline.

For today I am going to step through all of my past posts, summarizing the key takeaways for each one. Then, starting tomorrow, I will give my overall conclusion on the matter.


I began this study by establishing my thesis: that only a life founded upon the truth was truly joyful and free. I began by considering which of all the people I know live in the truth most consistently. The group I settled on was addicts in recovery, and I noted the surprisingly joyful and meaningful lives that they lead.

Next I considered the importance of truth in other aspects of the world. First I looked at the physical truths necessary in aviation, and then the dangers of untruth in propositional logic. There may not be an obvious connection between these realms and that of our own personal behavior, at least not from our limited, mortal perspective, but the fact that truth is clearly essential in these other domains gives a strong suggestion that it would also be so in matters of self-governance.

I then moved on to arguing against putting untrue perspectives on other people. I said that it harmed them by separating them from reality and inadvertently reinforcing harmful messages. I explained that this complicated and frustrated individuals’ efforts to secure the basic good things that we all desire in life. I also pointed out that we put this harm on others due to incredible personal arrogance, and that the logic of deluding one another becomes untenable when scaled globally. I concluded that if it is demonstrably wrong to deceive others and cause them to live separately from the truth, then surely it is wrong for us to choose to live separate from the truth ourselves also.

Of course, it isn’t the case that we always know exactly how we’re deluding ourselves, though. I explained that we often need the help of another to see ourselves clearly, and that we block ourselves from the truth because we aren’t prepared to deal with it. Thus, even if we decide to live in the truth, it will take some special revelation to know what the requisite changes we then need to make are.

I also pointed out that even if we do recognize what our failings are, we might try to dismiss and minimize them, admitting what is true with our words, but hoping to get ahead through a little deception on the side. We have to learn to bring all of us into alignment with the truth, or our practice is only theoretical and basically useless.

I then related my own experiences with living in varying degrees of truthfulness. I described states of being oblivious to my falsehoods, and also of striving against them, and finally of periods of joyful congruity between with the truth. From my own experiences I sincerely believe that all of us can come to live in harmony with the truth, even while acknowledging that first we all struggle with being hypocrites and liars, myself included.

Finally, at one point I explained our need for an external truth. I made the case that we need the truth to be defined objectively and separately from any one person. It is essential that it is dictated by God, Himself, and given to us through divine words. This is the one truth that all of us must seek alignment to, and anything else that claims to be the truth is a counterfeit, and will not produce the full joy and freedom that we might otherwise have.

That is everything that I have explored thus far, tomorrow I will give the first half my final conclusion on the matter.

To Live Freely: Part Fifteen

In my last post I shared how I have at times been oblivious to the inconsistencies and hypocrisy inside of me. I explained that I have moments where some external factor reveals to me that I am not living in harmony with the ideals and truths that I hold most dear. I also shared how at other times I know what my inconsistencies are, and I am genuinely striving against them, but I am unable to achieve total self-control. I am being truthful in my purposes, even if not in my outcomes. These two states represent my lower states of truthfulness, and today I will conclude by detailing the highest state that I have lived in as well.

Living in Truth)

Thankfully, not all of my experiences have been obliviously hypocritical or frustratingly impotent. I really have had some moments and some areas where I have been in harmony with the truth I feel inside. Having had these experiences in some areas of life is what gives me hope of ultimate victory in all the rest.

Perhaps the strongest of these experiences came nearly six years ago when I committed to an addiction recovery program. I overthrew the lies I had lived with by fearlessly confessing to the truth. The result was that my whole being came into alignment with the sort of person I wanted to be. I was honest, creative, healthy, and hopeful. Who I portrayed myself to be, who I wanted to be, and who I actually was were all the same person, or at least they the closest to being the same person than they had ever been before.

All the credit that I deserve for this state of life was that I was willing to finally reject falsehood. I demanded the truth of myself, and then grace seemed to come into my being and make all of my different parts work together. This was union through divine intervention, as any true union must always be.


Having lived the full gamut I can certainly say which levels of integrity are more happy and joyful. Being oblivious to my hypocrisy had a seductive bliss to it, but eventually the truth always revealed itself, and then I was in for a sharp awakening. Realizing my fundamental failing has been, at times, a crushing experience, for I often don’t have any clue how I am supposed to grow past it.

Trying, but slipping, is actually better than being oblivious. It is more constantly agitated than being oblivious, but it does have a hope to it. Even though I keep falling back to where I started, there is a hopefulness in my scrappy efforts. I’m trying because I think I can make it, and I find a sense of self-decency because I’m really trying to live what I preach.

Best of all, of course, is actually living in the truth. There is such a massive weight that is removed when I feel that I am genuinely being the person I was born to be. It truly does feel like a gift, though, not an accomplishment. Overwhelming gratitude, therefore, is my single, constant emotion.

Have defined these different states of my life, I must confess that the mode of transitioning from one to the is largely still a mystery to me. It is something that confounds and at times frustrates me, how to go from oblivion, to striving, to inner peace. It is a quest well worth the effort of a lifetime, though, and I will continue to seek my way no matter what comes.

To Live Freely: Part Fourteen


This series has already gone on for longer than most of my others, and I think it has also been more disorganized and rambling as well. I’m sorry if its meandering manner has put you off. This blog is my place for me to mull over the very things that I’m grappling with personally. You’re reading the transcript of my thoughts as they are happening, and it doesn’t make for the tidiest structure. This topic in particular has been a real puzzler, because it has been a back-and-forth fight in my own life to fully orient myself to the truth. I am so weary of knowing better and doing worse and feeling guilty, so I am perplexed by this problem, and I believe this study has reflected that fact.

I understand if watching me grapple with these problems in such an unrefined way isn’t particularly useful for you, and no one should feel obligated to stick around if they’d be better served elsewhere. I think I’ve muddled around in this area for nearly long enough, though. I have one last topic I want to cover, then I will try to summarize what I’ve discovered in all this exploration.

I will spend this post and the next sharing the different degrees that I have oriented myself to the truth in my own life. I’ll cover my least and middling truthful states today, then progress to my most truthful mode tomorrow.


The most difficult flaws to remedy are the ones you never see. I have been guilty of attesting that I hold certain values most dear, while then suggesting otherwise in my actions. For example, I have maintained that my family is of utmost importance to me, and yet I have been detached and distracted from them by the most trivial of things. It is a sharp return to reality when my children ask me why I’ve been staring at my phone all day instead of playing with them.

It’s discouraging to realize that I’ve been a hypocrite, and even more shocking is that I wasn’t even aware of that hypocrisy until someone called me out on it. I’ve been so detached from the needs of others that I didn’t even realize I was neglecting them. The presence of my children’s father in their lives really matters, and if I say that I truly believe that to be true, then I ought to live like it.

I think I find myself in these moments of self-betrayal because I am tricked by my immediate desires. One of the key reasons why I am lost in my phone is because that is a low-energy activity, and I am feeling tired. But often I only feel tired because I didn’t get to bed at a good time the night before. Now when I stay up late, I don’t consciously think to myself “I am choosing personal entertainment now over being present with my children tomorrow,” but that’s ultimately how it turns out.

Another way that I am seduced by my immediate desires is that I have a thought pop into my head of something I want to look up, and I think that I can do it real quick and be back before anyone notices the absence of my attention. I’m trying to have my cake and eat it, too. I’m trying to have my personal interests met while simultaneously creating the illusion of constant presence. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t work. Even if I did pull of the charade, and no one ever caught on, I would still be being dishonest.

Trying, but Slipping)

I also have areas where I fully recognize that I’m not living in harmony with what I know to be true, and I am genuinely trying as hard as I can to correct that. Or at least, I’m trying as hard as I can until I become frustrated by the fact that I’m still not changing, and I give up on the whole endeavor. I try to force myself into alignment with the truth, but it seems the harder I try, the more quickly I fail. How can I feel so passionate about the need to take care of my body, for example, and make such strong commitments to live differently, and then still break my diet again and again? Really, if I could have one wish, I would simply want to be able to live like the man I already want to be.

As I’ve spent time in therapy and twelve-step groups I think that my dramatic efforts to force myself into a particular way of life are getting in my own way. I need to be able to surrender control and let my Higher Power carry me. But then, I start wondering why I do so poorly at surrendering to God. I try to surrender “better,” and that just means I’ve taken it all right back to myself. Instead of trying to change myself by my own power, now I’m trying to earn grace by my own power, and that is a contradiction.

I will say, I do take some comfort in the fact that I do keep coming back to this place of trying, though. After I get burned out and discouraged and give up and walk away, I do always come back. I feel proud of the fact that I keep trying to orient myself to the truth, regardless of the frustration. That means I am being truthful in my intentions, if not in my results. I have hope that at some point I’ll be able to find the proper harmony if I keep trying again.

To Live Freely: Part Thirteen

What is Truth?)

I have spent quite a while examining different reasons for why one should live in accordance with the truth, and I have been calling out the ways that we try to excuse ourselves from doing so. Hopefully each one of us will be convinced at some point that we must live in harmony with fundamental truth, aligning ourselves to the universal good.

But, even if we do come to this conviction, we may find a new question that takes its place. It is the same question that Pilate famously posed to Christ: “What is truth?” It seems that the answer to that should be obvious, but any serious examination on the matter will soon uncover a few issues. Most particularly, we will likely find it difficult to distinguish what is THE TRUTH from merely “my truth.”

Consider that many of us hold different principles inside of us that we identify with the truth. Two men confronted by the same injustice might be stirred by their conscience to two different actions. One of them might feel called to meekly endure the offense, remaining patient and longsuffering. On the other hand, the other man might feel compelled to stand up for what is right and challenge the oppressor. Frankly, neither of these reactions feels fundamentally wrong to me. Perhaps towards less severe injustices the passive response seems more fitting, and towards grievous injustices the bold response, but there is a great deal of overlap where either seem entirely appropriate, and I would not call any person wrong for behaving one way or the other. But at the same time, in a single person each response is mutually exclusive to the other. So which way is actually correct?

Furthermore, two men acting in sincere accordance with their conscience is one thing, but what about the issue of us misidentifying our wants with our conscience? I’m sure we can all call out social movements that claim to be based in truth and conscience, but which are clearly just justification for selfish and immoral practices. Making matters even more complicated, while sometimes we know in our hearts that we are being dishonest, most often we really do delude ourselves into thinking that our own personal wants just happen to align with what is cosmically right. How can I recognize what is actually true, and what is just me trying to get my own way?

A Point of Reference)

Both of the issues that I have presented are a result of defining the truth locally. If each person is let alone to define their “own truth,” then there will be as many distinct truths as there are people. We will probably each settle on some genuine pieces of conscience, but also much that is colored by personality or selfish desire. Aligning ourselves with “our truth” will therefore disappoint us, both on a personal and universal level. On the personal level, it will disappoint us because we will come out looking very much the same as who we already are. We will not have any sense of transcendence, of having been called up and made into something new and better. On the universal level, we will never have unity and common purpose. We will remain entrenched in embittered battles against one another, everyone convinced of their own rightness above all others.

If this enterprise of humanity is to move forward, then there absolutely has to be some underlying, fundamental truth established outside of all of us that we can each defer to. There has to be an external truth that is real and consistent, so that we may all come into union when we separately align ourselves to it. If the truth is defined by a person, or if it is shifting in its nature, then we will never find harmony with either conscience or community.

If, however, we do settle upon a universal truth that exists outside of us all, then both of the issues mentioned above are resolved. Now we have a standard that all other “self-truths” can be compared against. Selfish desires, misinterpreted as truth, are immediately recognized as such and discarded. Also, in the example of the two men choosing differently, but according to their genuine conscience, it is possible that the universal truth is broad enough to harmonize with both decisions. While the universal truth will certainly never contradict itself, it does seem reasonable to me that it could allow some range of individual, moral choice within its domain.

Is it any wonder, then, that the bedrock of every civilization has been religion? Be it the Bible, or the Quran, or the Torah, or the Bhagavad Gita, or the words of Buddha, each culture has composed itself around words that are said to have descended from on high. They might have come through the mouths of prophets and sages, but they are not interpreted as the words of those prophets and sages. They are understood to be the words of the external, of the divine, of God in some form or another.

Cultures that detach themselves from sacred truth do not remain cultures for long. As a society they break apart and become an anarchy. As individuals they become stunted and cease to improve their situation. They lag behind the rest of the world, both technologically and ethically, and they are soon destroyed by the whims of the world.

So, going back to our idea that only the life founded upon the truth is free, even after we accept this fact we still have to identify what the truth really is. And in order to do this, we’re going to have to find a source outside of ourselves, and outside of any other person. At some point we’re going to have to find God and discover THE TRUTH for ourselves. Choosing to found ourselves upon the truth is therefore no mere decision that we make once in our current place and then have the matter resolved. Choosing to be founded upon the truth means deciding to go on a great journey. It is a quest of exploration, discovery, and refinement, and it will last us the rest of our lives and then some!

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 24:15, 17-21

15 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.

17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.

18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.

19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.

20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.

21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.

It is a wonderful little detail that Rebekah appeared on the scene before the servant had even finished his prayer. That means she had been well on her way before he voiced his request of God. God had already sent the answer before the petition came, thus the servant’s prayer wasn’t necessary to convince God to send Rebekah to him, it was necessary for the servant to be ready to receive her.

By taking the time to think through all the qualities that he was looking for in Isaac’s companion, the servant was bringing his focus into alignment with the woman that Rebekah already was. He had an image in his thoughts so clear that he wouldn’t be able to mistake her when she arrived.

We often approach our prayers like we are trying to convince God to be in harmony with us, but as we see in the example of the servant’s prayer, he was the one coming into harmony with what God had already laid out. Abraham foretold that God’s angel would prepare the way before the servant and now we see that he was right.