Sometimes the truths we cling to aren’t really accurate or helpful. Let me tell you what I mean.
Wait, The Ohio River Isn’t that Big?
Growing up, I was immensely proud of the might Ohio River. I lived just outside Louisville, Kentucky, and the Ohio River was a constant presence in our lives.
It was huge. It was muddy sometimes, so you couldn’t see deep into it. But that made it all the more mysterious.
Massive barges traveled up and down, pushing coal and other industrial products.
We’d eat at our favorite hamburger joint looking over the river and just admiring the beauty.
I remember when I learned that George Rogers Clark, brother to the famous explorer of the Lewis and Clark fame, lived in Louisville. That was awesome.
And when my folks told me that every little stream and creek in the area made its way to the Ohio, I could hardly believe it. Makes sense as an adult—river drainage areas, of course—but as a child it was just fascinating.
And of course, everyone knew that the Ohio River was a mile wide at Louisville.
When I moved out west and saw what they called rivers that would have been creeks back east, I was even more proud of my home river and its vastness.
There was just something so cool, so mind boggling, about how much water flowed through it.
Seeing the Difference
Skip forward a couple of decades to a few months ago.
I’ve taken my family home for a visit, and while there I want to take them to see the river and get a sense of its size and scope. My kids hadn’t seen it for years—so it was going to be a shocker for them.
And the old railroad bridge that had been converted into a footbridge across—no way we could pass that up!
So we get to the river. And it IS big, just as I remembered. We start across the footbridge, and for fun, since we’re walking a good distance, I turn on my app, MapMyWalk, to see how far we go and how fast our pace is.
Imagine my astonishment when we get to the Indiana side and we’ve only walked a half a mile.
What?!?!? How could this be? Only a half a mile!
Okay, okay, I hear you now. That’s still a huge river. Massive by most standards, especially western United States standards.
My Mind Was Blown
But my world was rocked. All my life I’d thought it was a mile across. And it wasn’t. At least, not at that point. There may be another spot right downtown where the falls are that it stretches wider for a bit.
But no, not there at the park where the bridge we crossed.
And my worldview of the river was just shattered. I had a hard time accepting it.
Now, this wasn’t the kind of story that changed the universe or even made me rethink my entire childhood.
But it did throw a reality in my face that I didn’t want to accept—a “truth” I had held dear for all those years that suddenly wasn’t true, and in fact never had been!
Letting Go False Truths
How often in life do we hold on to “truths” that aren’t actually true?
Stories about ourselves, our childhood, our relationships, the way we see ourselves or others, that doesn’t really match up wth the facts or with what we want to believe?
For me, having to change the way I saw the Ohio River required me to get over confusion, embarrassment, and disbelief. I was able to do it.
But how many stories from my past do I cling to that aren’t true? Stories that affect my confidence, my happiness, my attitudes and behaviors?
Being willing to face the reality that my view of the river was significantly off let me also face the reality that my perceptions of the world are deeply influenced by the stories I hold on to. What truths we live by affect how we see, think, and live.
Some are good, some are bad, but not all of them are accurate or need to be held onto so tightly.
So take a look at your Ohio River stories. Check out the details. And don’t be surprised if your “mile-long rivers” turn out to be only half a mile in reality!
You may find yourself in a happier, more joyful place!
Me? I can laugh about the width of the river now, and realize that it makes more sense anyway based on how it looked from across the way. Changing truths sometimes can be a shock—like facing the real size of the Ohio River. But facing those truths always creates opportunity for a better life lived!
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