Cows, Horses, and Truth

Oceanfront Pastures, Mendocino County, February 2011

The Spin Cycle
When our grandson Cadence was two, distinguishing between cows and horses challenged him. He’d point to a neighbor’s horse and say, “cow.” “Horsie,” I’d gently correct him. We’d drive by a herd of cattle and he’d say, “horsies.” “Cows,” I would remind him.

Finally he developed a simple solution: for a time, he called both bovine and equine creatures “cowhorsies.” His coined word charmed me. I’d respond, “yes, those are cows” and we’d go on our way. Eventually he learned to recognize the difference between cows and horses and “cowhorsy” disappeared from the family lexicon.

But for a time, he had innocently found a way to express himself that wasn’t quite right, but close enough that we understood him, and didn’t reap a correction from Grandma Lala. “Cowhorsy” was an easy fix.

Sometimes I say things that aren’t exactly right, but my motives aren’t so innocent. Maybe I claim fatigue when I’m irritated by some minor event: “I’m not upset–I’m just tired.” Maybe I reflexively ask, “how are you?” when I don’t really intend to listen carefully to the response. Or maybe, I respond, “doing well, thanks!” when I’m hurting inside.

David Rupert at Red Letter Believers blogged about “spin” last month. Reading his insightful post and the comments it inspired, I realized that spinning–those little twists on the truth–makes me dizzy.

And I prefer a clear head to wooziness.

Lent begins tomorrow. This year I plan to fast from sugarcoating. I’m hopeful that by Easter Sunday, I’ll have planted a habit of speaking truth with love, or sometimes choosing to give grace and remain quiet.

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body, the church.
Ephesians 4:14-15 (NLT)


  1. Sheila. A funny — and sobering — post.
    Speaking untruth in the past has gotten me in such a pickle. I've lost friends and family and even my own soul.

    I'm committed to truth.

    Thanks for the RLB nod!

  2. Thanks for your comments, David. Even more, thanks for putting my wheels to turning on this topic. I was happy to highlight your post that elicited this one from me.

  3. Words, spin, truth…it's all so important for us to think about what we say and how we say it.

  4. Ann, you're right. I try to apply the "necessary, truthful, and kind" benchmark.

    And you know what? I always do. But sometimes it's not until after I've unleashed the words. 🙁