Sunday, January 8, 2012

Speaking the Truth

It seems funny to follow my last post about my awesome husband with this story, but here goes.  My husband is an extremely honest person.  And by extremely I mean brutally.  So often over the years I've looked at him after he's said something honest and thought, "I can NOT believe you just said that."  My favorite story to illustrate this happened while we were dating.  I needed a new bathing suit and invited him to go shopping with me.  As I tried on bikinis I would come out and show him.  (I know, probably not my wisest decision)  The scenario went like this: 
I would walk out feeling hopeful
He would look me up and down, nod and then say "turn around"
I would turn around
He would shake his head and say "nope"
With the first few suits I just thought it was a bad fit.  But after 10 or so repeats of this exact performance I burst out with "what is so wrong with every suit AFTER I turn around and you see it from the back?  And he told me, without emotion, "they all make your butt look square."
So I calmly said, "oh, ok, thanks for being so honest and helping me find the perfect suit."  WRONG.  I snapped, "well maybe I just have a square butt and shouldn't even buy a bathing suit."  I put my clothes back on, returned all the bathing suits to the rack and we left the mall with tension crawling between us.

In all reality, he is still one of my favorite people to shop with because he is so honest.   But the contrast between us back then was huge.  I hate conflict.  I want everyone to feel good and get along.  So much so that in my younger years I would lie if I thought the truth would hurt someone or cause a rift in a relationship.  I often stuffed my own hurts just so I didn't have to have hard conversations with friends.  I can remember many times when I was angry with one friend or another but when they would ask I would tell them I wasn't mad because I wanted everything to be fine.  So I would pretend or if it happened too often I would end the friendship.  The strange thing is, I thought of myself as a very honest person.  I wouldn't have said that I lied regularly because I thought that all of my lies were for someone's benefit.  As a teen, if I knew that my Mom wouldn't like something I did, I just decided it was best not to tell her.(sorry Mom, just kidding, I really was as perfect as you remember)  If I felt like my opinion wouldn't be in agreement with the friend or group I was with, I just kept it to myself.  If I felt like my struggles would upset someone, I hid them.

Ephesians 4:15 tells us "we will speak the truth in love, growing more and more like Christ."  4:25 goes on to say "So stop telling lies.  Let us tell our neighbors the truth for we are all parts of the same body."  The first time a friend confronted me with this truth in the middle of a small group I wasn't sure how to react.  He called me out by telling me that I wasn't protecting someone else's feelings but was protecting myself from conflict.  He said my lying wasn't helping me or the people in my life.   He was proposing a whole new way to live.  I wasn't sure how it would work but if this was what God really wanted for me I decided to try.  Soon I had the chance.  A friend hurt my feelings and called me later to apologize.  My former response would have been "oh it was fine, I wasn't upset."  But this time I answered honestly and told her that I forgave her but that I had been really hurt by her comment.   We talked it out and life went on.  But I will be honest with you here, learning to live this way wasn't easy.  I would often shake as I was honest about my feelings or responses.  I would still feel sick when I knew I had to have a conversation with someone.  But I also saw my relationships grow deeper, and my relationship with God grew too.

I still don't like conflict and have to overcome that each time I take the step to grow more like Christ by speaking truth in love.  My husband still struggles with blunt honesty but he too is growing more like Christ remembering to say it in love.  Mostly I'm thankful for the friend who cared enough to call me out.  His honesty came out of his love for me as a sister in Christ.  He knew the way I was living wasn't allowing me to be who Christ was calling me to be.

How about you?  How do you do with speaking the truth in love?  Do you struggle with the truth part or the in love part?


Barbara H. said...

I really appreciate this, Dawn. I am not all the way there yet. I often hear myself saying, "That's okay" when it's really not. I also know exactly what you mean about the physical shaking when telling someone the truth about how you really feel about something and the shaky inner pep talk... telling myself that it's the right thing to do, especially if I want to live my life with truth out in the open and not feel like my feelings aren't important or valuable enough to be heard or considered. (I probably could have broken that sentence up!)
This is the first time I've looked at your blog. Thank you for the encouragement!
Love and miss you!

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