Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Last weekend, I was driving to pick up one of my friends to go shopping for the day from her grandparents house. I got lost. I called her and when she got on the phone, I said "I am an idiot." Her response? "Ok. And...." Then we both laughed.

I have several friends with whom I can be completely honest. If I am shopping with one of them, and a pair of pants make her backside look like a truck, I am going to tell her. Friends don't let friends be made fun of. If one of them is doing something incredibly stupid, chances are, I am going to tell them.

Here's the kicker - are you ready? I expect them to do the same. I have one friend who has sat in my living room and said "Do you know what a idiot you will be if you make that choice?" This same friend has also told me multiple times "not to be a dumbass." Are all of my friends this blunt? Thankfully, no. Some of them have tact. Am I as blunt with all of my friends? No. Thankfully, I know which ones to have some tact with. Regardless of the words I use, I am still being honest. Regardless of the words they use, they are still being honest with me.

The man I was seeing told me how words can hurt. I agree that they can - and the truthful ones tend to smart the most. They hurt no matter how nicely they are said. Sometimes those words can make you look in the mirror and realize that you do not know who you have been looking at. He spoke about the tongue being our most powerful weapon. I agree with that - the book of James talks about that explicitly. But there is a difference between using words in cruelty, in lashing out or anger and using words purposefully to correct someone.

I will never forget a time shortly after I was saved. I was attending a church at which I was also later baptized as an adult. The Director of Women's Ministry really did not like me. I could just feel it. But, she took the time to correct me in something I was doing - which I did not even realize. Red faced, and mortified, I simply thanked her for pointing it out to me. I was prepared to never go back to that church again. My first instinct had been to react in anger and tell her to mind her own business.

I later recieved an email from this woman thanking me for how I handled myself. She explained how it is a sign of growing maturity to be able to accept correction. I have a terribly long way to go in terms of spiritual maturity, but I have kept those words with me since that day. I began to be open to the ways - subtle and great - that God was offering correction in my life and whom He was offering it through.

When you love someone, whether they are family, friends, or significant others, it can be your job to offer correction. That correction can come in a variety of forms. Sometimes silence is the best form of communication. Sometimes redirection does the trick. But, sometimes, you need to use words. The ideal is not to have to use words. Sometimes, no matter how well intentioned you are, those words will be misconstrued. They will be twisted and unless that person is ready to hear you, all of a sudden you will become "persona non grata" for being honest.

One of the problems is that people internalize their actions and their exterior world into their identity. As humans, we are made in the likeness of God. We all have the power to be holy, to be good and to be one with each other with our God. But, we also have free will. We have the choice to sin every moment of every day - bringing us further and further away from the God in whose image we were created. What we don't often realize or remember is that it is not our choices or our deeds that define who we are. For me, and others of faith, it is our identity in Christ. For non-believers - the essence of who you are still lies in God. It does not lie in your choices, or your actions. You are so much more than that.

Our identity in Christ requires us to be honest and transparent with each other. Our identity in Christ requires us to guide and help others who are developing in the faith in whatever way God leads us to.

This is something that my now ex-boyfriend could not understand. He said my words hurt, and I had no right to not agree with him. Ok. I will agree with him that they hurt. The truth often hurts worse than anything else. The truth is God's proverbial "slap in the face" to make us realize what we are doing. He would have rathered that I merely agreed with everything that he said - like I should have been one of those Stepford Chicks. "Yes, honey." "No, honey." "Right away, honey." "Yes, honey, we can have sex on the kitchen table in the middle of the day....Ding....honey, the brownies are done, just in time."

Being honest with someone about their actions does not mean you are condemning them as a person. Isolating something as a bad choice does not mean you are classifying that person as a bad person.

I am thankful that I understand the purpose of honest correction in my life, even if I do not always handle it with as much grace as I could. I am thankful that there are those in my life who care about me enough to want to be honest with me - to help me grow into a better woman.
I believe honesty hurts - even brutally at time. But, I think this world would hurt a lot worse without honesty.

** For those of you who may be new to the scene, the Group Blogging Experience (GBE) is pretty much where each week Alicia will give a general topic, then you have all week to work up your own interpretation of it. The only limits on what you choose to blog about are the time you want to put into it, and your imagination. By Saturday, everyone posts their blogs and Alicia links them all through hers. Come join us!

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