You notice the dark circles under your friend’s eyes, the drawn look of their face, the slump in their shoulders. That one word, that “fine”, was a lie, and you can see it. But you don’t push, don’t ask, because you really need to move on and see the next friend, ask the same question, maybe get another lie in response.
I see this scenario plenty of times. I’ve done it plenty of times. And right now, I want to ask a question:
Why do we see that someone obviously isn’t “fine”, yet we breeze on by? Why are we so frightened of honesty and truth? Here are some of my (disjointed) thoughts on that.
We want to present a pretty, bright candy-colored shell to the world, when inside our life is like the expired Reese’s peanut butter cup my grandpa once ate—rotting and full of worms.
It takes courage to be honest, both by bringing yourself out in the open and being honest with other people. It takes discretion—believe me, it takes a lot of discretion. You don’t want to go telling someone something at the wrong time, or telling the wrong person something. You don’t want to air everything on the Internet or even among your friends.
It takes being heartfelt and caring. I’ve had both honest criticism and nasty criticism directed at me, and the nasty stuff sticks to me to this day, festering just when I think I’ve finally purged it. You don’t want to do that to someone. You have to truly love someone and be as positive as you can, even if what you’re being honest about is negative.
Being honest takes not being afraid of people being nasty to you. It takes not being afraid of what people can do or say when you reveal a secret for someone else’s benefit.
Maybe that’s why we’re scared of being honest. We’re afraid we’ll hurt someone. Maybe, with all the cautions and pitfalls of being honest, it just isn’t worth it. It’s way too much work.
But think of what you could do. Telling a story from your past might cause some to criticize you, but it will inspire others. I can’t tell you how thankful and amazed I am at Diane M. Graham’s willingness to be open, honest, and truthful about her life. She has blessed, inspired, and encouraged me many times, especially since I lost Matthew.
Maybe your honesty will help someone heal. I heard a lot of peoples’ miscarriage stories in the weeks after Matthew was born. I heard a lot of “God will get you through it” platitudes, and I appreciate how they meant to help, but they didn’t. No one mentioned how they got through it, or what helped them heal—they just said that they healed. It wasn’t until my mother-in-law, Tammy, began talking about how she got through losing her two-day-old girl, that I began to feel as if anyone was being truly honest with me.
I know that’s going to sound awful to some people, and I recognize that those who told me, “God will get you through it,” were only trying to help. And yes, God did get me through it. But I needed true honesty, about how I would feel, how I would want to break something, how I would want to push away everyone who tried to love me.
Being honest and truthful with others takes time, it takes effort. But if you truly care about people, you have to make that effort. Do it carefully and cautiously, but do it nevertheless. Since I’ve begun being open and honest with the people I care about, and since I’ve invited them to do the same with me, I feel like my life has become richer and more satisfying.
Do it in love, do it carefully, but at least try being open, truthful, and really honest with yourself and those you love.