When I was young I was quite a pistol, I mean I was incredibly honest. This was before I learned that you shouldn’t say everything you thought, because you might hurt someone’s feelings. It was also before I stopped sharing what was on my mind, because I cared so much about what other people might think.
The truth can hurt people, especially when people are not ready to face it. This is especially true, when the truth is not delivered well. Although the truth can be hard to deliver, choosing not to tell people the truth can hurt as well, and it can have just as many long-term consequences. Personally, I don’t remember when I learned to keep the truth to myself, I just did. Maybe it was getting those harsh looks from my parents, or perhaps it was seeing the look on some ones face when I told them the truth that let me know there was a problem. Whatever it was, I got the message. It has literally taken me years to get back to a place where I don’t accept any old thing and where I tell the truth the way I see it. It has taken a great deal of maturing and time, but I have moved from keeping everyone comfortable, to a place of silence, to prayer, and then to truth. Truth is expensive, especially to those who tell it and live by it.
The truth is important, and in most cases it’s what people want and need to hear. I believe and have personally found that people are genuinely good. They maybe experiencing hardships, or could just be having a bad day, but overall we are all the same. We are all human and want the same things out of life. None of us is perfect, and we can all be selfish and self-centered especially when we are busy, tired, or under stress. Sometimes we just need people to care enough to say “stop”, get our attention, and tell us how our actions are effecting others.
Over time, I have come to understand that truth is delivered best on a plate of kindness. It is not that people don’t want to accept the truth often times it is not delivered well by those who want to serve it. That is probably one of the reasons why the scriptures remind us to speak the truth in love.
My greatest memory of being told the truth in love happened when I was 8 years old. I wanted some Nike’s and my father seemed to be stalling, or ignoring my request (something I wasn’t used to experiencing). One day when my father went out to run some errands and left me at home, my Godfather and I were sitting around the house. My Godfather asked me if he could talk to me. In that moment, he decided to share some really important information with me about my sneaker delay. He let me know my father wasn’t working, and money was tight, something my father hadn’t shared with me. I was heartbroken as I couldn’t understand why my dad didn’t just tell me that. I loved him and didn’t want him to feel stressed about getting me some stupid old Nike’s. I learned an incredible lesson that day about how the truth can change someone’s life. He took a few short moments of time, and he explained to me what was happening, he didn’t judge me, or make me feel bad, he just talked, and I just listened. It feels like this conversation was yesterday, but it actually happened over 32 years. When you tell someone the truth you are investing in them, and you are investing in your relationship with them. You are also making them better, and giving them an opportunity to grow. The truth maybe hard to tell and it may even be easier to watch someone crash and burn instead of becoming vulnerable, but the rewards can be life-changing for you both. Prayerfully consider what God is saying to you.
Our relationships with others teach us a lot about ourselves. It shows us where we need to grow and how. Are we full of pride, or are we afraid of the consequences if we tell someone we like or love the truth and they are not ready to hear it. Life is about growth and growth is not always easy, but the rewards of growth are the abundant life. If we are going to be more like Christ, we have to accept the rewards and the consequences of doing the right things even when they are uncomfortable for us. Choose growth over comfort so the life you live glorifies God. There is a local church here that has a bumper sticker that says, “Do right, and leave the consequences to God”, I think that is a great way to live the abundant life. Trust God, and see what happens as you choose to walk with Him. I challenge you to tell the truth in love and watch what happens to your relationships, but most all watch what happens to you.