In this month’s enewsletter I talked about firmly and kindly speaking the truth to others instead of defaulting to unhealthy communication to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. The reason most of us fret over speaking the truth is because many of us don’t hear the truth graciously. We make it difficult for the other person to say the truth. We become defensive, have feelings that are easily hurt, take it personally, and on the list could go with our immature responses.
I realize many of us have been hurt by others’ version of the truth and their holier-than-thou delivery of said truth. I know how that feels and I’m so sorry. This is not the situation we’re discussing. I’m talking about when someone needs to tell us “no, I cannot do what you are asking” or “ I can do this for you, but not that” or “your son threw his toy at my son.” I’m talking about when we need to hear a reality that we don’t want to hear.
When this is the case it’s time we put on our big girl pants and hear the truth in a healthy way. Hear it for what it is. Don’t take it personally but for the reality it reveals. We need to lay aside our pride and admit we don’t have it under control.
The Truth is for Our Best
Years ago a friend twice gave me the gift of showing me how to speak truth in a kind, loving way. I had just come home from my second writers conference excited that a publisher showed interest in my proposal. I hurriedly put the finishing touches on the proposal and planned to send it off before I went on vacation the next week. I emailed it to my dear friend who had also attended the conference and asked for her opinion (really wanted her quick stamp of approval). I emailed her to set up a time to talk about it right before we left. Her first gift of truth to me came in her reply, “I have thirty minutes I can give you Saturday morning.” Wow. No one had ever told me exactly what she could do for me.
I called her at the designated time and almost immediately she gave me my second gift of truth. “Brenda, did you listen to the tapes [instructing how to write a proposal]?”
“Uh, no.” Busted. I didn’t think I needed to.
“Brenda, in those tapes Bob tells you exactly what you need to do.” She was right. I thought I could ignore the rules and still have a wonderful proposal.
Through the rest of our conversation my friend walked me through the main points of the taped sessions. I did not send in my proposal that week or even that month. After vacation I listened to the tapes and took my time making my proposal shine. I took it back to the writers conference the following year and landed my first book contract. Without my friend’s kind, candid advice I don’t know if I would have caught the attention of a publisher. I will be forever grateful to her. She spoke truth to me kindly and directly—exactly what I needed.
The Truth Protects Us from Harm
We need to be honest with each other. My girls have had friends that are in hard places. Their friend groups try to help and comfort the hurting friend, but they are not equipped to really help. The hurting friend needs to be directed to someone who can help in the way they need it. The truth needs to be spoken, “You need a counselor, doctor, therapy, etc.” By not speaking truth to each other, we are allowing the others to continue to hurt themselves.
How to Proceed
Who in your life loves you and cares for you? Will you give that person permission to say what you need to hear?
For the those who are not in your close circle, can you lay down your pride and defensiveness and graciously hear what they say without owning it all? Pick through and find what applies while throwing out the rest. Maybe one of your trusted friends can help you in this process.
By being big girls and having healthy relationships we will not only enjoy this life more, we will show the world how sisters in Christ really live!
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.