Second-Hand Truth


Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Bible

Confession: I love thrifting. I love finding a steal on a barely-worn pair of shoes or imagining what I’ll do with a gorgeous frame holding a pretty sad piece of art.

Most of what I own has been pre-loved in some form. All of the art on my walls has had previous owners or was handmade by me. I bought my car used and am a frequent flyer at the local used book store. Buying used is cheaper, better for the environment, and it makes for a good story.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. We get rid of things for all sorts of different reasons: the clothes don’t fit anymore now that we’ve lost the weight, or the art doesn’t match now that we’ve redecorated, or we’re simply trying to cut the excess out of our lives, to declutter a little.

But the things that other people need to declutter, I need to fill my home with beauty, to get me where I need to go, to fit the size I am right now. Like I said, it’s a good story.


I come from a long line of women of faith. I have heard stories of God showing up in our little lives, when He was Strength when the diagnosis wasn’t good, when He was Hope in infertility, when He was Ever-Present Emmanuel in the doubt and depression. These are my stories, my family’s stories, and they are familiar reminders of the character and presence of a loving and faithful God.

Sometimes, though, sometimes they don’t quite fit.

Some of the experiences I have these days are things I’ve never faced before, that I’ve never seen God show up and show himself in. I look in my closet of reminders of faithfulness and find that none of these apply here. Yes, God was strong and hope and ever-present, but those aren’t the truths I need reminded of today. I need to know that he is just and righteous and that that is good news, that he is sovereign and for-us and relentless, and I don’t have those truths on hand.

But perhaps you do.

If there is anything I have been made aware of this year in my communities and friendships it is the power of story and vulnerability not only for the teller, but also for the hearer. Friends, I need to hear your stories of God’s faithfulness to you because sometimes I need to borrow your truths.

Can I brag on my people for a minute? Because we’re really good at this. I’ve been joking lately about the unsustainable levels of busy going on in my life, between Bible study and small group and support groups and just trying to be a good friend and good teacher and sleep sometimes (maybe on the weekends). But I need all of those things because it means that every night of the week I hear about God showing up in your lives. It means that every single day I have scheduled in some activity during which I will probably pray for you, out loud, and probably tell you about how God is present in my life and where I need to see Him come.

I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you, and please don’t stop. Sometimes telling you the truths I have learned is a little bit humiliating, a little bit more vulnerable than I’m comfortable with because it means admitting that I’m not enough. I know that awkwardness well, trust me.

But I need your second-hand truths. I need to borrow stories of truth from you and from the Bible and from the stranger on the internet because if I don’t, I will put on lies and fears. I know this because I have done it, because I am guilty of doing it even now.

I need second-hand truths to fill my mind with beauty, to get me where I need to go, to fit the place I am right now.

May we never be selfish or think small of our stories or our God. May we share small truths generously and big truths humbly. And may we be a people who wear each other’s truths confidently and who point out truths in each other’s lives freely, because God is here and God is working and sometimes we need help to see it.

small truths

Photo by David, via flickr.

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