Dr. Jordan Peterson claims to have found the antidote to suffering: the Truth. This is a bold claim. If it’s true, we better start immunizing ourselves with truth because we have a pandemic of suffering. I have a four-year-old girl who has a neurological speech disorder. She is very smart but is extremely limited in her speech and often gets frustrated at being misunderstood. The other day my five kids and I were in the van and she was very upset with her older sister. I kept telling her to be quiet and calm down but she was uncontrollable. Finally, after listening to the chaos for awhile, I had the thought that I should just repeat to her what was happening. I said, “Laynie, you are upset because you want to play with Kyla’s toy but she won’t let you, huh?” She instantly stopped crying. She calmed right down without even getting her way. As I was pondering this later, I realized speaking the truth of what was happening was enough to calm her.
If the truth calms a child in the storm of perceived toy-injustice, there is great hope in its utility in our genuinely strife-filled lives. JBP says, “What is there, then, that’s going to help you fight against suffering? That’s easy: It’s the Truth. The truth is the antidote to suffering. The reason for that is because the truth puts reality behind you, so that you can face the reality that’s coming straight at you without becoming weak.” There is something about simply stating the truth that brings safety and peace to a situation.
JBP says truth speaks order out of chaos. I like to conceptualize this more as truth being the mediator between justice and mercy. In the Garden of Eden, God gave both Adam and Eve the opportunity to tell him what happened. He wanted to hear the truth from each of their perspectives.
Genesis 1:12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Eve speaks the truth about Satan tempting her and takes responsibility for eating the fruit. Adam tells the truth of Eve offering him the fruit and takes responsibility for eating it. God cares about circumstances that lead to sin, but he always wants us to admit our own part. God, in perfect fairness, delivers proper justice by removing them from the garden, and mercy in guarding the tree of life and sending their Savior. Trusting in the fairness of God makes speaking the truth safe.
Cain did not follow his parents’ example. When asked by God if he had seen his brother Abel, Cain said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”. Dishonesty has been the norm ever since. I can think of several reasons why, in that moment of choice given to each of us, we choose to lie:
OJ was acquitted after all
2. We don’t actually want fairness
-I want Notre Dame to get all the breaks and USC all the penalties
3. We are so steeped in lies (ideology) we don’t remember the truth anymore
-“If you tell enough lies, often enough, the truth will become hidden from you…and then you are in hell.” Jordan Peterson
4. We give in to temptation
-“Sin has many tools but a lie is a handle which fits them all.” Oliver W. Holmes
Truth in an Age of Lies
Abraham Lincoln credited his unlikely election on his reputation for honesty. “All through the campaign my friends have been calling me ‘honest Old Abe,’ and I have been elected mainly on that cry.” In medieval times the Knights Code of Chivalry stated “At all times speak the truth.” Times have changed. Honesty is a rare commodity in today’s society and deceit is expected of even our most influential leaders. The only thing to trust is that truth is rare, and therefore valuable. One English poet said, “An honest man’s the noblest work of God.”
Dishonesty is our commonality. Men lie, women lie. Feminists lie, stay-at-home moms lie. Despite our community of dishonesty, I believe it is the Truth that can unite all women. If we are honest with ourselves and about our own perception, we can learn from one another. It’s not an easy thing to even know the truth; it can be buried and blurred. JBP suggests it is much easier to recognize when you are lying because when you speak a lie it makes you weak. I suggest watching this clip as he highlights how to “burn off the deadwood” of deceit so we can start on the path of truth. *Clip most relevant at 2:18.
Feminists as Liars
I hope I don’t come across as a feminist hater. I know feminism, at least in theory, is directed at a real problem. However, I do believe feminism, in its modern form, is a negative force for women and men. I believe that women are swallowing up lies left, right, and center at the great expense of society and their own meaningful lives. When women decide to make careers supreme, or that marriage will oppress them, or that kids would burden them, they feel the need to justify these self-centered choices as faultless. One day these women may look in the mirror and realize perhaps they made the wrong sacrifices for the wrong rewards. They may feel as my daughter did, distressed without the ability to soothe themselves. But before they can speak the truth they must be able to delineate the lie. The lie is that happiness results from the pursuit of self. I am not blaming these women necessarily- they have simply accepted as truth the deceptions others have spoken.
I was quite disappointed to hear Michelle Obama perpetuating some of these lies in an interview with the actress Ellis Ross. Ross lamented the fact that boys and girls are taught to dream differently. Michelle Obama agreed: “Unfortunately I think that our girls still dream of weddings and the security of the Prince Charming…but I think we are working on it.” (applause) She then praised the actress for not getting married or having kids and pointed out her resultant accomplishments. It seems a little disingenuous of Michelle when she has previously stated, “My most important title is ‘mom-in-chief’. My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.”
Preserving the Feminine Spirit
“Suffering is a promise life always keeps.” Many women will find disappointment and rejection. The trick is to not allow ourselves to become haters of the things we don’t have. Women are built to take care of others. If we don’t do that in the “traditional” ways, we find other releases for it. We can use our feminine traits to bring healing to others. There is a lot of power in women who don’t have kids but still value femininity. One of my friends has never gotten married, mostly because she hasn’t found the right guy. She is not sitting around getting bitter or resentful. She literally travels the world helping at-risk children. She is making a difference I cannot. She also doesn’t pretend marriage and kids are not valuable. The attitude Michelle Obama expressed in her interview is different; it does not simply allow additional opportunities for women, but downgrades a woman’s choice to get married and have kids. Some so-called feminists even encourage women to forgo marriage and family despite their own experience proving its value.
I have received several emails from women describing their “deprogramming” from negative-feminist lies. One woman said that Jordan Peterson helped “give her permission to be traditional without feeling inferior.” I highly suggest watching the clip below from a podcast between JBP and Jocko Willink describing the similar necessity of deprogramming from communist ideology. JP details the plight of committed communists; dragged into the gulags and made to face the fulfillment of their own ideology. (Clip posted at the end, the applicable section starts at 41:40-44:05 but the first half will blow you mind if you compare the Soviet era to some modern-day ideologies.)
If a young woman that you care about is on the path of negative-feminism, have the courage to speak the truth as you see it. If she dismisses marriage and family, defend that path as one of significance. JBP says, “If I am forced into a position where I have to validate your identity… What if your identity is wrong? What if its pathological? What if it doesn’t serve you well?…and if I start validating you, do you think I am your friend? I am not your friend at all, I am a mirror for your narcissism.”
Mothers as Liars
Feminists often claim stay-at home moms are fake. They say we project perfection, but are really unfulfilled and insecure. We could be offended, or like JBP’s rule #9 we could “assume the person you are listening to might see something you don’t”. It’s not easy to face our pathologies. Since we are all very far from perfection, any attempt to portray it is dishonest. The subtle deceit between 1950’s housewives at the local bake-off is now digitized, globalized, and commercialized by social media.
So I will start with a little honesty. I am a below-average homemaker. I lose my temper with my kids. I tend to be judgmental. I don’t plan on posting photos of my sink full of dishes or take pride in my inadequacy – but I am not going to pretend I’m perfect. If I am living in an honest way then should I clean up my living room before I snap a photo for Instagram? Should I be overly patient in public but yell in private? Should I act accepting when inside I am judging?
When we dishonestly hide our weaknesses instead of being real and vulnerable, we miss an opportunity to help each other. I ask advice from my friends who are good cooks. I call my patient sister when I am frustrated with my kids. I try to remember the words of scripture when I hear myself being critical. Our fear of someone discovering our weaknesses might keep us from seeking help in overcoming them, and helping others in the areas we are strong.
When we live in a deceitful way in order to be admired, we deceive ourselves. It goes back to the beginning – Adam and Eve decided to be honest before God; Cain decided to play the world’s game of dishonesty. Look how that turned out. If we are honest about ourselves, we trust that God is ultimately the One who matters. Next time you are tempted to portray yourself dishonestly, remember, “The moment you stop caring what other people think is most likely when you start doing what God wants,” St. Patrick.
Lastly, truth can help us feel more fulfilled as mothers. As I spoke about in post #1 – my dream as an idealistic young woman was to move to Africa and to “save the world” – I had the chance to walk that path but I choose the path of motherhood. As I look at my single friend, traveling to India and Africa helping vulnerable children, I could be jealous of her life unburdened by laundry. Or, I can speak the truth – she is walking the path God has for her and I am walking my path – the one that raises His precious children. As God’s plan for us progresses, we may have new callings. As we continue to speak the truth, we will be able to clearly see His path.
The Truth Will Free Us From Suffering
Dostoyevsky describes the natural progression of a life lived in deceit, “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures…all from continual lying to other men and to himself.”
As JBP says, “There’s no better way to bring a better Being into Being than to speak the Truth.” Sometimes we are stuck in a place where we are suffering. We may find ourselves resentful or insufficient. Like my daughter, we can’t even articulate what has gone wrong. We need to cut away the lies we have accepted, and those we are perpetuating. Only then can we start to gain sight of the truth. Ultimately, as my daughter did, we will feel safe in the arms of truth.
*Side note: I was blown away that Dr. Peterson shared my blog. I am still in shock and awe, and incredibly grateful. I believe it demonstrates his esteem of motherhood. I started writing because I took his advice to follow your passions and they will lead you on the proper path. I would appreciate you sharing this blog with your friends if you feel these are messages the world needs to hear. I now have a Facebook site you can follow where I will notify of posts. Thank you for your support and I welcome all comments and suggestions.
27 thoughts on “The Truth Will Set You Free: Jordan Peterson and Motherhood #4”
In a small celebration of the truth, I will reach out and tell you that your thoughts and ideas are powerful and very affirming to myself.
I believe there is great merit in curious searching for truth and just the actions of the search bring rewards itself. I feel for young people who aren’t given the chance to take the risks involved in the pursuit of truth are being robbed of something very vital.
Thanks you. I agree “just the actions of the search will bring rewards”.
Great insights. Thanks for sharing.
I wish Jordan Peterson had l popped up 25, 30 years ago. I am 50 and was raised (by wonderful parents) in a social environment that looked down on “just mothers”. Although I loved babysitting and was great with kids, I aimed at University and career (also due to a high IQ which is not favorable for women to have, as their potential group of mates is not too big). I always dreamed of having a big family – but that was a thing one could not voice 25 years ago. Or maybe it was just me….?
Sorry Anna if you have regret. However,I am sure you have done much good in the world since you seem to be a “truth-seeking” woman
Great posts! Looking forward to more. I avoid Facebook like the plague, but your articles make me want to share lots of paragraphs and snippets with the world. So many women need this.
As a side note, some people call what you did for your daughter “sportscasting” (as per Magda Gerber’s RIE parenting philosophy), I find it very useful when it comes to toy-struggles and other disagreements between my children, there’s a lot in Janet Lansbury’s blog,in case you’re interested 🙂
I agree Facebook is a curse and a blessing. I am excited to tell my sons when I am “sportscasting”:)
Hi! I’m a proud feminist who is also a stay-at-home mom by choice. I’m really uncomfortable with the way that you are trying to pit women against each other. I am a feminist who believes that we should let all women make the choice that they decide is best for their own lives. Many feminists believe this. It makes me sad that you are trying to make feminism look evil when it really gives women more opportunities to choose. It would be a much better world if we supported each other in the good things we are trying to do with our lives instead of tearing each other down when someone’s choices are different than our own.
I’m sorry you feel I am trying to divide people – that was not my intention. I was trying to show that even if women don’t get married and have kids they can still make a difference in a positive way if they adopt positive femininity. I disagree that feminism in its modern form is about choice – I think previous waves of feminism already accomplished that – feminism, in its modern form, is having a negative effect on women’s peace and happiness by portraying career as supreme and gender differences as either non-existent or simply social constructs. I believe our differences are necessary and part of what gives life meaning and depth. I don’t believe and never said feminist are evil – I do however strongly disagree with the modern feminist ideology as portrayed in a generalized way to society. Part of the miscommunication may be due to the fact that the very word “feminism” can mean different things to different people. I am referring to the feminism described in my post and in this comment – the one which is shifting society away from family.
Pls excuse the typos above
As women, we have forgotten what it means to be a woman. We’ve been programmed to think that we are worthless if we don’t have a high paying job. I am a stay at home wife and constantly have to fight my ‘programming’ that is saying that I am not good enough and failing society because I am not working. We need to rediscover true femininity. When we are truly women, fulfilling our calling to be good and true and beautiful, we are a force for good and for change in society. When men see a woman who is truly a woman, they want to be better without even knowing it. That is the power that women hold. We need to stop using that power to destroy our society.
And one quick word on the feminists ability to ‘choose’. That gets back to the foundational principal of right and wrong. We cannot choose an evil. If we do, it is a perversion. There is in the fiber of each woman’s being the innate knowledge and desire to be fully herself, fully a woman. When we ‘choose’ our own will or things that are contrary to Truth we are harming not only ourselves, but all of humanity.
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Absolutely beautifully said!
You have to realize Autumn that “feminism” has made the economics of being a stay at home mother for my generation impossible. Young women are now better educated and out-earning their male peers. I can’t stay home to have children because I can’t find a man that makes more than me. And if you solution is paid family leave or another government program or subsidized daycare starting from a young age, you also have to realize that feminism encourages women to be dependent on the State, not men. You need to understand that tearing down each other’s choices is absolutely necessary when feminism’s “choices” are dismantling Western Civilization as we know it. Enjoy your comfortable life, because it won’t exist for your feminist children.
If you are being selfless and open to hearing the voice of the lord, then sometimes the answer will be to get an education and a job.
I agree with that. Not all lives look the same.
Sure maybe not all lives look the same but the point you are arguing is that feminists want all lives to look the same–aka “working moms.” But your article seems to suggest the exact thing in opposite form, all truthful moms are stay at home moms–aka if economics allow it etc. allow this. The funny thing is economics may allow it and then all of the sudden your husband gets cancer. Then you realize all of the pain you had to go through with the horrible things women said at church about you was worth the cost because now you can provide for a family. If I couldn’t be honest with myself I would have let women at church guilt me into not getting an education.
I think you may be projecting your own perceptions a little bit here. I am a big proponent of women getting an education and being secure. What I have said and will continue to say is that women who have a family should make them a priority and that young women who are thinking about a future should make having a family a significant part of their future plan – because it is likely to bring them lasting joy and meaning. If all these things can’t happen then they are still very worthwhile and God can use them in ways he never could have before if they are open and honest. I lived in Africa for years, most women there cannot stay at home with their children – that does not make them lesser women – they can still raise a wonderful family and most of them would sacrifice everything for their families – and often do.
I find you are basically saying if a women’s choice is to work then it is not an honest one. That it is the selfish choice. I don’t ever go to church hearing how amazing working moms are even though the statement should be all moms are amazing. There is just as much soul searching to do what is best for your family as a working mom than staying at home one. So I definitely feel this article doesn’t help women get to the truth at all.
I thought my example of my admiration of my non-married friend was evidence that I do respect all women if they are honest and trying to follow God’s path. I do think if women are able – staying at home for your children’s early years is beneficial to the children, women, and family unit. However, that is not everyone’s path and many women who work can be exceptional mothers as long as they make motherhood the priority it. needs to be. Not sure where in the article I rip on working moms? My own mother worked for part of my childhood and was a great example to me.
Dear Allyson, I am so encouraged by your writing. Are you in Twitter? I couldn’t find you when I searched. Pls keep writing. We need you.
Thanks so much. To be honest I don’t want to take the plunge into twitter – seems like a cesspool. I greatly appreciate people sharing on there, but perhaps I lack the courage required to face the twitter dragons.
I hear you. It is,but I troll for goodness there as well and do find it. I guess I love the thrill of interacting immediately with someone I am learning from. Blessings on you. Practicing more truth today;-)
Thanks Amy. Grateful for brave women like you trolling for goodness. I really appreciate your support.
As a mother of two children with severe autism I feel persecuted by feminists and stay at home homeschooling mothers. Neither acknowledge that some women cannot do it all by themselves. I find no refuge in communism/socialism or capitalism. They are just different versions of unbridled survival of the fittest. Men AND women are designed to care for others. The last thing we need is women adopting feminism as it is just a philosophy that gives women the permission to have the same “me first” crossless attitudes as men. Women don’t need to start doing what men have declared is important. Men need to to start stooping down for the weak so that women remember what is important. Oh wait, Jesus did that. Where are the men like that? That’s the root of the whole problem. The leader isn’t demonstrating humble service. It never has been that way so I’m certainly not looking for something “traditional”. More like kingdom revolutionary.
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It is certainly hard to build a happy traditional life if there is low supply of good men, or women, to create one with. Many do hope wait for the Kingdom Revolution. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.