Telling the Truth in Love
Over time, I have heard many people (even me!) say that it is their obligation, as people of integrity, to tell the truth and to declare the truth, especially when truth runs the risk of being ignored. To many, keeping silent may be tantamount to disobedience to God and turning their backs on what they believe.
It is possible that I was one of those people, at one time, having been surrounded and immersed in this teaching. So, I do understand where the belief and the thinking come from, at the core. I also have the advantage of not having been born “yesterday” and have seen a glimpse of the impact that different responses and behaviors have on people.
I believe in telling the truth. I believe in God’s truth. I believe in living a life of integrity. But, I no longer believe it is appropriate to declare truth in the faces of everyone who appears to be living a life that seems contrary to the truth. At a simplistic level, what is truth and who is the definer of truth?
Learn By Example
I’m remembering a couple of stories. One, with a woman having been caught in adultery and another, of a woman who had had five husbands. In each of these situations, Jesus could have done what I have seen people do, and declared truth in a forthright manner, declaring all of their sins in a way that left the women feeling small and unloved. But, you know what He did? He showed them grace and love. He showed, through His behavior, even more so than His words, how He understood and loved them in spite of anything that they had done. He accepted them right where they were at and, through that grace and building of trust, challenged them to something more in their life. They accepted it and drew to it like the cracks in the desert draw in the water of the recent rain after a hard drought. It is about love. That is what these women needed. That is what they accepted with open arms.
Been There. Done That.
I was raised to be a “good girl” and not “mouth off.” At the same time, I was trained to speak the truth. Granted, this conflicted a bit with the teaching of “children being seen and not heard…” Somehow, as a young adult, I thought it was time to be heard AND speak the truth.
On a day when my sense of integrity was particularly high (i.e. pride), my mother said something that reminded me of all of the things that I had kept bottled up as a child and I decided to respond. I wasn’t particularly mean and it actually felt good to speak truth. But, it didn’t “feel good” afterwards. My husband suggested that I apologize. All I could think, was, “How can I apologize for speaking truth?!”
I realized I had to do the right thing, so I apologized to my mother like this, “I am not sorry for what I said. I am just sorry I said it.” Fortunately, it had the effect of an apology, and I truly was apologizing for causing pain.
The impact of having experienced that has helped me to remember that there is impact in how (or if) we speak truth, and that the key thing to remember is really quite simple: Love comes first and sometimes speaking the truth in love, is to hold off on words, and, instead, demonstrate love.
Deborah E chooses to be positive, and share hugs and positive encouragement to as many people as possible. Join her in her journey. Laugh, cry, and be encouraged that she travels with you. You can follow Deborah @deborahinfo on Twitter.