Imagine a church community where honesty and vulnerability are modeled as victories and honored as courage!
Imagine a church community where it really is okay to be honest when you are not okay!
This community is a brave and safe community.
Today we are going to talk about honesty as a discipline in our endeavor to grow closer to God.
The ability to speak the truth – in love – and “let the chips fall where they may” is vital to our spiritual growth. It takes a level of maturity to be honest about yourself, and truthful with others, for to do so is risky.
Truth confronts the sin of hypocrisy in the community of faith.
If you ever want to see people squirm, be honest about what’s going on in your life. Instead of using the Christian “F” word (“Fine”), when asked how you’re doing speak the truth. You will, of course, want to choose the person/people with whom you do this. For instance, I wouldn’t pick the church Gossip!
There have been many times when I’ve been vulnerable with others, and been thanked. On more than one occasion, the other person opened up about some issues they struggled with as a result of our conversation.
Being vulnerable with our hearts gives others courage to do likewise.
This was modeled for us by Jesus in Gethsemane, and by Paul in several of his letters to the church.
Truth is necessary for real healing to take place.
As we share with others what’s going on in our hearts, they can speak truth into the matter and bring the light of Jesus to our struggles. We are thwarted in spiritual wholeness to the degree that we hide our true selves.
In addition to hiding from others, we need to realize that we can lie and hide even from ourselves. Any addiction is a prime example of this truth. As a healed alcoholic, I can attest to the ability of denial to hide the awful truth from oneself:
I didn’t have a drinking problem, a strawberry Daiquiri was my morning fruit serving…perfect with a bowl of cereal. It was healthy…so healthy that I had one every hour or so. Sure, I consumed an entire bottle of rum every day, but look at my healthy diet!
Love requires truth.
A relationship with a dishonest person is miserable, for trust requires truth as its foundation. Since we can’t change others’ ability to be honest, then we must work on our own. This is more important than we might think:
“If the person I present to you is not who I really am, then even if you love me I will not feel loved.
“I will suspect in my heart that it is not me you really love, but only the ‘false self’ which I have presented to you.”
Whenever love is conditional, the soul will be – or will feel – unloved.
Hollywood gives us many examples of this. One that surprised me was the “tough guy” from Happy Days (are you old enough to remember the show?). Arthur Fonzarelli, known as the “Fonz” was a bit of a bully to the guys, commanding respect and awe from even adults. You didn’t mess with the Fonz!
Several years later, I saw him on a talk show. He was more like the “Panz” than the “Fonz” in real life. Everything I knew and loved about Fonzie flew right out the window!
The point is, celebrities earn their living by play-acting. When we see them in a natural setting, they are often very unlike their screen personas. Consequently, we didn’t love them for who they really are, but for who they pretended to be. It’s no wonder so many turn to drugs, alcohol, and other addictions. They must play the part, or risk rejection on a grand scale!
It can be the same way in real life. If we choose to pretend to be something we’re not, then our “real” self does not receive love…and the love we do receive is false, for it is based on fiction, not fact.
One of the primary ways the Enemy tries to destroy us is with secrecy. Hide your heart, never let anyone see what’s in there…bad or good: “Act the part; make people happy. Keep smiling, and never let ’em see you sweat.” He knows that love is the food of the soul. If he can cut us off from love, then he can starve us to death!
“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” Psalm 51:6
To develop honesty, here are some practical directives:
* Be honest in prayer. God knows what’s really going on in our hearts. We need not hide from the One who knows us best and loves us most.
* Be honest in journaling (more on this another time). Write down things you’re working through. Later, when the issues have been resolved, these pages can be burned as a “sweet-smelling savor” to God. If you don’t journal, talk it through with God…out loud. The point is to get this stuff out of your head and either onto paper or into God’s ears.
* Be honest in close community. Note the word “close.” Sharing heart issues with a handful of trusted friends can be beneficial.
* Be honest with mentors. How can a person help us develop if we are not truthful with them? We have an “apple” issue, but only talk about “oranges” with them. Then get frustrated with their input because it’s not relevant to our “apple” problems! This is like talking to Fonz about his bully tendencies – his need to be more loving, when in fact the Panz is dying from a lack of love…and contemplating suicide. (Not that he is – or ever was, by the way!)
Here’s our new motto for the year:
Let there be truth on earth…
…and let it begin with me.
You’ve dropped in on the series Intimacy with God. It begins here: C’mon In…
The section on Living by the Rules starts here: Where Image Is Everything
Learn about other Obstacles to Intimacy here: A Clogged Conduit
Are loss and grief obstacles to intimacy? Our discussion on the matter begins with Plastic Hearts
The Discipline of Forgiveness begins here.