When we are loyal to our lies, we are like an emperor in undies. Delusions believed as truth will destroy. We need to be open to others gently telling us when we have been conned.
One of my favorite stories from Hans Christian Andersen is “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
Here is the brief overview as told by Wikipedia.
A vain emperor who cares too much about wearing and displaying clothes hires two weavers who claim to make the most beautiful clothes and elaborate patterns.
The weavers are con-men who convince the emperor they are using a fine fabric invisible to anyone who is either unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid.”
The con lies in that the weavers are actually only pretending to manufacture the clothes. Thus, no one, not even the emperor nor his ministers can see the alleged “clothes,” but they all pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions.
Finally, the weavers report that the suit is finished and they mime dressing the emperor who then marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid.
Finally, a child in the crowd blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is then taken up by others. The emperor realizes the assertion is true but continues the procession. Source Wikipedia
The sad part of this story is that the emperor continues on his way ignoring the reality of his foolishness.
The con is better than reality because to embrace foolishness would mean a stripping of pride.
We all have an emperor
You probably know someone who has been conned. It may well be you.
I know someone who continues to walk as an emperor.
Along with others, I have tried to get them to see reason, but still, they kept on going down that same track of thinking.
“There’s nothing wrong with me; I’m perfectly OK.’
With blind arrogance and belligerence, they keep digging the hole of their own making.
Tell me pleasant things
We like to be told ‘pleasant things.’
Isaiah talks about the people of Israel preferring fairy tale fluff and happy endings.
“These people are stubborn rebels
who refuse to pay attention to the Lord’s instructions.
They tell the seers,
“Stop seeing visions!”
They tell the prophets,
“Don’t tell us what is right.
Tell us nice things.
Tell us lies.
Forget all this gloom.
Get off your narrow path.
Stop telling us about your
‘Holy One of Israel.’”
Isaiah 30:9-11 New Living Translation (NLT)
It’s called repentance
I don’t often hear the word repentance. Perhaps because it’s a church word and even in church it’s not used that much.
Repentance means to change direction. We acknowledge the foolishness of the path we have been taking and then set a new route.
It’s listening to the voice of a child crying ‘He’s in his undies,’ accepting the news as being true, changing direction and then banishing the weavers that have spun a merry lie around ones thinking.
Loyalty to a lie
There are the obvious lies that many become spellbound too.
The saddest I have seen are those where there is a mental illness involved. It could be a psychotic delusion, grandiose thinking, bi-polar swings, depressive pits, etc …
An illness has gripped the brain. The mind has been polluted with dross.
Then there is the vast multitude of us who have beliefs about life that have seeded themselves deeply into our thinking.
- My worth is based on what I do
- I am unlovable
- I need to be in control to feel safe
- I am a problem
Then we find evidence to back up our conclusions. We become increasingly loyal to the lie because to us it’s our truth.
That is until a small voice whispers ‘I can see your undies.’ An unbearable feeling shadows over us and we quickly move to avoid.
We know no other way, so we keep on walking the walk and talking the talk of an emperor in undies.
Loyalty to …
I don’t want you to be loyal to the lie.
Whether it’s a lie within yourself or the lies others want you to be loyal to.
I want you to be loyal to the person, but not the lies they clothe themselves with.
It’s an important differentiation to make.
The person – loved by God, flawed and human.
The behaviors – bursting out of the beliefs held dear.
When we understand the difference, we grow in our ability to set lines of love and respect (boundaries).
“I didn’t reject you, I rejected your behavior.
Change your behavior, before we can
walk together again.” D. Riddell
Their response is their responsibility
When that little child in the crowd pointed out the obvious, the emperor chose to ignore and keep on being in foolishness.
That is what life is like at times.
We point out the obvious.
We whisper it, shout it, raise placards, erect warning signs with flashing lights. We do what we can but to no avail.
Natural consequences take place.
Unpicking the invisible cloak
I think of that emperor and his glorious invisible cloak.
The deception he had allowed to be woven over his life needed to be unpicked, gently.
He had been conned.
Something within the words of weavers met a need he had, and so he permitted them to spin a fairy tale.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave…
when first we practice to deceive.
We need friends.
Safe people that we can humbly and honestly ask for their opinion. Soul friends who will watch for the invisible threads of the conman and be willing to whisper ‘You’re wearing undies.’
Quotes to consider
- We all like a nicely padded delusion, only to find eventually that it comes with a sting in its tail. Stay in reality to stay safe. D. Riddell
- Superficial politeness is not love; it is pretence for the sake of one’s own comfort. If you love them, don’t let them get away with it. D. Riddell
- Accepting responsibility for your own responses and choices is the first step to a healed life. (Christians call this “re-pentance.”)
- Every moral choice we ever face asks us the question, “will we conform to reality, or go on creating our own delusional world?” D. Riddell
- Truth is a cruel and persistent chisel upon those who stubbornly cling to their prejudice and delusion. Sooner or later reality is going to crash in on their denial. D. Riddell
- The journey into total mental health begins with a commitment to come out of delusion into reality, no matter what the cost. D. Riddell
- Life is the result of choices, but choices are determined by beliefs. Be sure your beliefs are in harmony with reality, or your choices will merely reinforce your delusions. D. Riddell
- When I believe my feelings and those feelings misrepresent reality, I am headed for a self-referential pit that will get deeper and darker as I dig myself into my home-made delusion. D. Riddell
Questions to answer
- Under the pull of addiction is a lie. What are people truly hoping to receive by living with that lie?
- Who or what are the conmen weavers in your life?
- What lies have you believed as truth that need unpicking?
Image Photo by pina messina on Unsplash
Barry is a writer, coach, online pastor, and course creator that has a passion for Mental Health and Spiritual Formation.
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