I’d like to say that I’m an honest person. I try to raise honest kids and refer to the old saying, “honesty is the best policy.” If I find out that my kids have lied, consequences are steep. I detest deceit! Just like countless people around the world, my trust has been severely shattered so I tend to be wary and distrusting at times.
Any discussion of honesty should naturally include a couple pillars of integrity: discretion and discernment. Most people practice discretion and discernment but there are clusters of of crazies who throw both to the wind, eager to shock and awe their audiences. For the sake of time, I’m going to assume that my readers apply discretion and discernment whenever possible.
I have to confess that I’ve struggle with honesty.
If you’re being honest, I think you’ve struggled with honesty as well.
Let’s just tease this out a bit. There are times…
…when we shush our kids as they repeat something we’ve said. For good measure, we throw in a little, “That’s not exactly what I said!” and chuckle nervously.
…when we gloss over an ugly situation, telling half-truths hoping no one questions the inconsistencies.
…when we use emotions to manipulate the emotions of others so we get a ‘hall pass’ on our bad behavior.
…when we ‘spin the truths’ of a situation to avoid feeling embarrassed about our choice of spouse, friends, church or workplace.
…when we defend someone’s deceit to protect them from consequences.
…when we defend an employer’s bad choices because we don’t want to lose our job.
…when a supervisor makes a judgment call that we absolutely disagree with and yet are required to ‘sell’ the decision to the folks on our team who are already struggling to trust the organization.
…when we’re invited to someone’s house who serves a meal that tastes like dirty feet yet the host eagerly seeks our affirmation.
…when we pretend to have feelings or emotions that we don’t have.
…when we’re asked ‘how are you doing?’ and we say ‘fine.’ but struggle with depression, loneliness, confusion, a lack of purpose, or pain.
Why do we lie?
On some level we feel the cost of honesty is too high.
We fear consequences.
We don’t think people can handle the reality of our situation.
We don’t think people will love us if they know the truth.
We want to hide our foolishness.
We want peace, even if it’s a false/fake peace.
We fear losing our job.
We fear apologizing because it’s going to cost us a bit of pride.
We fear losing respect or popularity.
We fear losing friendships.
We fear backlash.
We fear being misunderstood.
We love the other person and don’t want to hurt them.
We avoid upsetting someone’s apple cart because we fear their reaction or rejection. I want to camp on this one because I’m very familiar with apple carts. Lots of apple carts. I’ve not tipped the apple cart to keep false peace. I’ve not tipped the apple cart because I didn’t think I could handle the battle. I’ve not tipped the apple cart out of self-preservation. Or perhaps I just didn’t want to expend the energy needed to address the situation. Most often though, the apple cart needs upsetting to bring forth growth in ourselves or the other person or to give us freedom. Sometimes by not upsetting the apple cart we are enabling poor behaviors instead of truly loving the other person out of unhealthy or destructive behaviors.
While I’d love to plunge into a deeper discussion on the existence of apple carts, enabling others or picking battles, I’ll save those topics for another post.
I want to throw in here a quick reminder that honesty is NOT the same as blurting out an opinion because everyone else is entitled to it. They aren’t. No one is entitled to your opinion. This is where discretion and discernment come into play. I must also throw in the reminder that a persons’ perception may not always be the truth. Truths can often be correlated to facts or standards. Our culture often confuses the definitions of truth, opinions, and perceptions. This makes it easy to present our perception or opinions as truth while strategically leaving out the facts. It is possible to practice honesty and truthfulness within our opinions and perceptions.
My personal standard of truth by which I can shape my opinions and perceptions is God’s Word – The Bible. God has never lied to mankind and can be trusted unlike shifting cultural norms, fads, trending belief systems, current world leaders, or our own flaky and flawed opinions.
So what’s the cost of not being honest?
A lack of peace.
Not sleeping at night.
Our own character being called into question when we are deceptive on someone else’s behalf.
Having a reputation of being untrustworthy.
Unaddressed frustrations that lead to estrangement.
Broken friendships when a truth is found out.
Not feeling truly known and loved.
Maybe it doesn’t feel like a big deal when you try to hide a lapse in judgement by shushing your kids (or spouse) in front of others but is it worth it? What is it that we have to hide anyway? Our humanness? Since we’re all human, you’d think we’d have a bit more grace with each other, we’d learn to laugh at ourselves, and would quickly apply an apology when necessary.
Here’s the deal: whether we want to admit it or not we all hate smoke screens, we hate when smoke is being blown up places unknown, and we hate being deceived. No one likes to be deceived. Deceit tastes like a large gulp of seaweed infused ocean water. And guess what? We know when we’re being deceived. When our trust is broken, a relationship gets severed until the situation is addressed and trust is earned. If our trust is broken and not addressed, the infection of distrust creeps into our hearts, widening the chasm of brokenness, slowly killing affection and unless the infection is addressed, death within the relationship may occur. Can resurrection occur? Sure. Ideally. It may depend on the level of trust that was broken. This is a reason divorce happens and why family members don’t speak for years.
On the flip side, we all love transparency. I love being around people who are loving and yet honest -people who don’t expect me to agree with them but don’t have a problem presenting their perspective with honesty and clarity. Honestly speaking, sometimes these folks do make me a bit nervous as they’re unpredictable and for some reason I feel like they see right through me. I don’t really like feeling that transparent even if I enjoy it in others. Still, their company is comforting like a warm ray of sunshine after a cold spell… But I do love the energy, peace, and joy that honesty exudes, even if I don’t always agree.
Is there a connection between honesty, joy, peace and love?
I do believe so.
When we are freed from fearing others (aka ‘people pleasing’), we are free from feeling the need to deceive or hide on countless levels and are free to be the person God made us to be.
When we are free to be who God made us to be, we have peace.
When we have peace, we’re free to truly love and open our lives to others.
Our love may not always be received, we may upset someone’s apple cart, and we may get rejected but love is always worth the risk.
Besides, who really wants to live a lie?
“To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure,
but risks must be taken,
because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”
– Leo Buscaglia