My Simplicity Journey: Telling the Truth

Article by Malcolm Marler, Edited by Dee DeWitt


We have been taught all of our lives to tell the truth.  Sounds simple enough, right?


Well, not always … sometimes it is the hardest thing to do.


Have you ever been in a situation where you were aware of specific information about someone, and that same person you were talking to did not know that you knew?  And how did that make you feel?


One time a patient died unexpectedly at the hospital and I was asked as the chaplain to come and be with the family.  But when I got there, I learned they had gone home earlier in the evening, and were called to come back to the hospital because their loved one “had taken a turn for the worse.”


So I waited for them outside the unit, introduced myself, ushered them into the family conference room, and alerted the nurse to page the physician to come to deliver the bad news. 


And we waited.


They began to ask reasonable questions, “What is going on?”  “How was their loved one doing?”  “Has anything bad happened?”  “Why couldn’t they go into the room?”  And I found myself dancing around their questions as I stalled for time.


Was I lying by not telling the truth?


I knew what had happened.  I knew the answer to their questions.  But someone else was supposed to deliver the news.


We find ourselves in the “truth dilemma” every day don’t we?


We shade the black-and-white truth with a little gray here and there.  And before we know it, we’ve changed the entire color of the conversation.  We go from living simply to living with complexity.


French philosopher Blaise Paschal said, “We know the truth, not only by the reason, but by the heart.”


If we want to live more simply, we are drawn to the truth, however difficult that may be.


Telling the truth to others, and listening to the truth about ourselves … Both are steps in the journey to living more simply.




“In human relationships, kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.”
-Graham Greene


Malcolm Marler is Director of Pastoral Care for UAB Hospital in Birmingham, AL.  In addition to his interest in spirituality and health, he loves to identify physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of persons, then design and build programs that help meet those needs.  His warmth and humor along with his powerful message of hope and grace is his greatest strength.  Malcolm grew up in Alabama and attended Clemson University (S.C.) on a football scholarship as a defensive back where he graduated with a B.A. degree in Psychology.  He is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY with Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees.  Malcolm lives on a lake in North Alabama with the love of his life, Mary Bea Sullivan.  He has two open-hearted, loving stepchildren, Brendan and Kiki who are both freshman in college.  For more information or to contact Malcolm, please visit


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Posted on 29 March, 2010 in Goals, Simplify
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