Because Telling the Truth is Hard To Do

“Always tell the truth and never tell a lie”. That was our family motto when I was a kid. It’s a good motto, and one that I broke fairly easily.

I didn’t lie when the consequences didn’t matter.

“Did you eat the cookies?” Yes.

 “Did you hit your brother?” Yes.

I only lied when I was afraid, or when I wanted to avoid some type of confrontation.

“What are you thinking?” Nothing.

 “Do you like me?” Yes.

 “Do you agree?” Of course.

To me, the consequences of telling the truth in the first questions, while potentially painful (yes, dad had a wooden paddle), were more manageable than the consequences of the second set.

The latter questions can’t be easily measured or investigated, and their answers point to me as a person, versus me and my actions.

Over the last year, I’ve become more honest, and I’m better for it. It’s not easy! Honest conversations take warrior’s courage.

To admit that I strongly disagree with a friend, also means choosing to believe that person will still love me when the conversation ends. To admit the darkest parts of myself, means walking into a gauntlet of emotions.

I’m often afraid the person on the receiving end will walk away. That I’ll become a needy, desperate friend, whom no one wants to be around. Or worse, that my friends will take it upon themselves to judge me like God, and determine that I’m a horrible human being (which doesn’t sound like God at all. But that’s a topic  for another day.).

I understand that sounds extreme. Writing it sounds ridiculous. Most of my friends are Christians, and Christians don’t judge, right?

And I’m a good person, nothing I could do or say would be so horrible, right?

Why do so many of us lie? We all do it. We’re hiding the best and worst parts of ourselves because we’ve predetermined another person’s response.

A recovering addict will tell you, “the hardest step is admitting the truth”.

“What are you thinking?” That I’m ready to end this conversation.

“Do you like me?” Not today.

“Do you agree?” That’s ridiculous.

As I practice this truth-telling, my responses become more loving, more confident, and more productive.

In the last two weeks I’ve had half a dozen or more of these conversations. Conversations ripe with honesty and emotion. I share stories, I get to hear others. It doesn’t take long to remember that we’re all kind of the same.

Grow

7 comments


  1. Dianne

    I think that two of the hardest words to share with a person for whom we hold a great deal of respect are "I disagree." and yet most times that I have had the courage to do just that it has reaped positive rather than negative results. The fear that is present when I think that I might be "found out" for what I really think or feel is far outweighed by my need to be loved and accepted for who I am. This has not been a lifelong reality but more of a place of courage that has come along on the journey. I enjoy your blog. Thank you.

  2. Great, honest post. I'm trying to be more honest with others. But I'm finding where I REALLY struggle is being honest with myself . . . and being honest God. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I've found, my real friends disagree with me and I love them for it. There real love can be found. I did an experiment back in 2008 where I told the complete and total truth for 7 days. It was…so freeing and I wasn't kicked to the curb or cussed out. Actually telling the truth in love is very different than telling someone you are telling them the truth in love. In my experiences, if you have to announce that that is what you are doing, it's probably not the truth or with love, only someone's opinion and judgement in disguise. Like a hypocritical transformer or something.

  4. Great post. As you suggest, it isn't as easy to be consistently honest as we think. Not long ago someone pointed out to me that flattery is lying. Negotiating can be too. How often are we are "dishonest" when we answer a question as simple as "How are you?"

    And often, it seems to me, we resort to half-truths to avoid having to tell a lie (or be painfully honest).

    Sometimes it seems we have to sacrifice perfect honesty for the sake of sensitivity or to avoid being a crank. But probably not as often as we think we do…

    thanks for a thought-provoking read…

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