“Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained…”Lao Tzu
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” Mother Teresa
“Hiding how you really feel and trying to make everyone happy doesn’t make you nice, it just makes you a liar.” Jenny O’Connell
“Let’s tell the truth to people. When people ask, ‘How are you?’ have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. You must know, however, that people will start avoiding you because, they, too, have knees that pain them and heads that hurt and they don’t want to know about yours. But think of it this way: If people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine research on a cure for whatever truly afflicts you.” Maya Angelou
“To believe in something, and not live it, is dishonest. ” Mahatma Gandhi
“To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart.” Charles Dickens
“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.” Robert Louis Stevenson
It is almost Spring. It is my youngest child’s birthday. It is sunny, clear skies, cool breeze, flowers blooming and trees budding. Those things are true. It is easy to be honest about the things that everybody already knows about or that they can see for themselves. But what about the things that are not obvious…personal things. Are we always honest. Completely honest. Is anyone ALWAYS completely honest?
“Does this make me look fat?” (and it does…)
“Do you like this color highlights..my hair dresser talked me into it…” (it looks like gray streaks not blond…)
“Did you think that my dance team dance was awesome?” ( teens in booty shorts gyrating to x rated music!!!!)
“Do you think he/she is ‘Hot’?” (that person is physically exceptional…but I don’t know them at all so I might not think they are attractive at all if I did…)
“Don’t you love my new tatoo? /Belly button piercing?/ Ear gauges?…”
These are loaded questions. We can think of a million more examples of questions that we might get asked that we really don’t want to answer truthfully because we don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. Or I suppose there are people who don’t want to answer truthfully because they want the “asker” to embarrass themselves. That is evil, and I am going to make the assumption that no one reading this post would purposely and intentionally hurt another person.
Honesty. Fairness and straightforwardness of conduct… adherence to the facts : sincerity.
But there is more to the meaning and importance of honesty. According to Dave Early in 14 Secrets to Better Relationships “Honesty is the forgotten key to intimacy and a secret to better relationships.”
Before “the Fall” Adam and Eve were naked and they were free and they completely accepted each other. There was no second guessing or being careful about saying the right things. There were no misunderstandings. They knew each other and were in agreement and content. They were never “walking on eggshells” in fear of being rejected for saying or doing the wrong thing. There was no wrong thing. They lived in harmony…complete fellowship with each other and God…complete transparancy. There were no ulterior motives or second guessing. What you saw was what you got.
And then it wasn’t like that any more. It was like it is now. An imperfect world with imperfect people.
Adam and Eve went against God…chose their own way… and in so doing their eyes were opened to things that God never intended for them to have to know about…fear, shame, guilt…hiding…being secretive…being insecure and doubting oneself and doubting others. As Dave Early puts it, “”Before when they looked at each other, they saw the beauty of the image of God shining through the other. But now, instead of seeing their best friend, they saw a stranger. Instead of being joyously “other conscious,” they now were shamefully self-conscious. Instead of feeling fully known and securely loved, they felt guilt and grief.”
From that day on they tried to hide from each other…they covered themselves because they were ashamed to be seen. They his from God. God knew where Adam was, but he wanted Adam to reveal himself. “But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?'” Genesis 3:9
Adam was hiding because he was afraid…because he was humiliated…and he blamed another for his condition (“the woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit…).
Are these not the same things that today ruin our relationships with God and with our fellow people? We are afraid that we won’t be liked…or that we will be rejected… or that we will be hurt…or that we will be left alone. We feel unworthy, insecure, unlovable, not smart or funny or talented or attractive enough. And when things go wrong we are quick to try to find somebody else to blame for the problem instead of taking responsibility.
Dave Early says, “We hide to keep from being exposed and rejected. We hide to keep from being hurt. We hide by withdrawing from relationships entirely, but most of us use ‘fig leaves.’ …Our yearning for intimacy, when handled properly, provides a full life of vibrant relationships.” But often we don’t know how to handle this “yearning” properly.
Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffman list some Symptoms of a Lack of Intimacy. They include: “Difficulty beginning new relationships; Passivity and detachment from others; Seeing yourself as a victim; Denying or hiding your feelings; Using addictions and other behaviors to numb your feelings; Reluctance to ask for help; Maintaining and unrealistic workload; Privacy; Minimizing the feelings of others; Struggling with honesty in relationships; Avoiding conflict; Using anger to control others; avoiding direct communication; Taking yourself too seriously; No hobbies (unless they are compulsive, competitive, or income producing).”
A list of “Poor Substitutions” for intimacy include:
“Excessive TV watching, Internet use, or other isolating activities (even reading or studying when used as an escape); Compulsive hobbies; Overeating; Oversleeping; Angry Outbursts; Chronic bitterness; workaholic; Emotional or physical infidelity; Pornography; Drug or alcohol use.”Read through the lists again. do any of these symptoms or substitutions sound like you or anyone you know?
So, what is the answer? We acknowledge that we are imperfect people in an imperfect world…so how do we connect? How do we get past our fears and our guilt and our shame and our blame? how do we stop hiding from others and God and ourselves? The first thing we have to do is be honest. We have to do a real “soul-searching” and see what it is about ourselves that is preventing us from having intimate relationships with others. We can’t hide anything from God…so just confess it all. Every dark place that is within us, ask God to expose to the light.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7
We must confess that our own fears and guilt and shame and blame separate us from love and intimacy with God and love and intimacy with others. To confess is to concede, acknowledge, declare…God already knows it all …He just wants to hear us acknowledge that we see it too…and that it is not alright with us…that we agree that it is getting in the way of our happiness and our life…and we need help. As Dave Early says, “…sin is unconquered until it is uncovered.”
We must be honest with ourselves about our short-comings…and be honest with others. Yes, there is a possibility that some people will treat us badly and take advantage of us if we open up to them…that is why it is important to find people that we can trust to take care of our heart and to love us and listen to us and support us and show mercy and forgiveness. We can condemn ourselves all day long…but God wants us to confess and renounce all of the ugly parts so that He can be merciful and gracious. God doesn’t condemn us…He wants to USE us to be a light for others.
James 5:16 says,” Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Be honest…and trust people who you know will listen to you and pray for you. Be available to people to listen and to pray for them. Make your prayers constant and never ceasing…every time that person comes to mind. Believe in the power of the prayer. Prayer is not supposed to be words on breath, said in passing, and forgotten…prayer is a REAL substantial force that can cover and protect and calm and heal. Prayer can move mountains. Prayer can change save a person’s life…a soul.
“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 20:17-20
The WORD of the Lord. God has always been with us…will always be with us. He knows the number of hairs on our head. He knows everything you and I have done…and He loves us any way. Just talk to Him about it…about everything! And find some trusted friends…find NEW friends if you have no friends now that you trust to be YOU with. You deserve to be known. You deserve to be whole. We are made for open, honest and intimate relationships. We are not made to hide our light. Let God shine His light all through us so that we can see to remove and clean out all of the parts that we have shoved in a corner or swept under a rug. Let God do His work until we Shine!