Some of the best things in life are simple, but not easy.
Honesty ranks among the most elusive. It’s easy to avoid being honest, without actually being dishonest or ever telling a lie.
We’re not talking about people who are liars. Let’s assume we both agree that lying and being dishonest are bad things.
At the same time, keep your flattery. We want friends.
“What do you think of this shirt?”
“Oh dang, that color is stunning!” Not dishonest, but not an honest answer about the shirt either. Technically I responded to the question, the listener feels affirmed, good to go. I was nice. Will you see my name on a ballot here shortly? Possibly.
Honesty, whether it should or shouldn’t be, gets a little complicated. Somehow it becomes a little grey. What is it to be honest? It’s more than just telling the truth and it’s more than just not telling a lie. True honesty takes bravery. Honesty done well, takes kindness, grace and sometimes a dose of discernment.
Even the most “honest” people I know, sometimes have a great deal of difficulty answering honestly. They aren’t dishonest, but they’re not completely comfortable with the entirety of being honest either.
Often the disconnect is that people want to be nice…or for everyone to feel nice. Unfortunately sometimes people confuse saying what seems nice as a replacement for being honest. It’s really more about feelings: this feels nice, therefore it is. But is it?
Honesty has a way of appearing to be divisive. But is it actually? Is honesty divisive or is it the truth that’s divisive; honesty just belongs to the person brave enough to admit it. When honesty is ever worth anything, it’s usually because it’s decidedly for or against something or something someone cares about that may be hard to say, but it’s still the truth.
There’s bravery in speaking the truth.
There’s an art to speaking the truth in kindness.
There’s a gifting in discernment to know the moment is right.
I admire the heck out of these people. The people you know that if you look them in the eye, and ask them what they think, what they know and what it was like, they not only can but will tell you the truth. That the truth is more important than the feelings it could create between you. The truth is more important than their own image or reputation. They understand that the truth exists whether they’re willing to say it or not and to not say it for fear of what it could change, is a betrayal to the reality that is. That by bottling up truth, you’re really agreeing to a secret between the two in an effort to sustain an artificial comfort. An artificial connection. A comfort that to a truly honest person, feels like a cavity of disconnection and a betrayal of who they are.
So, is honesty actually divisive or is it perhaps the key to a true connection? Is it the unveiling of comfort and the illumination of truth? If being honest in kindness and love creates a division, that division already existed, you’ve just made the choice to acknowledge it. Never be afraid of losing an artificial connection in an attempt to create a true one. You may need a drink at the end of that conversation, but at least you’ll have a true friend to share it with.
I love the quote from Shakespeare that, “love is not love that alters…or bends…it is an ever-fixed mark”.
Truth is not truth that alters or bends.
Honesty never betrays the truth.
These are responsibilities of a true relationship.
Choose true connection.
The truth is there whether you acknowledge it or not.
Be a champion for the truth in love.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.
-Shakespear, Sonnet 116