Ok, we don’t hate honesty completely. In fact, it’s a character trait that we love in others. We admire honesty. We expect others to be honest with us. When it comes time for us to be honest, however, we find that it can be really difficult. This is especially true when it comes to being honest with ourselves. If we admire honesty so much (as we should), why do we find it so hard to be honest at times?
We are afraid people won’t like who we honestly are.
Honesty strips away all of the masks we hide behind. It’s tempting to “massage the truth” about ourselves in order to sound more impressive or important. We all want people to like us and to respect us. In our attempts to attain the approval of others we often hide the parts of us that we think they won’t like. We stifle our opinions and hide our flaws. We laugh when everyone else laughs. We dress like everyone else dresses, and we hide anything that we think doesn’t measure up. In short, we stop being who we truly are.
This sort of dishonesty is incredibly destructive. Even if we are able to win the approval of others, we will not be able to fully enjoy it. Deep inside we will know that they don’t like who we really are, only the person we have created. “If they really knew me”, we think, “they wouldn’t like me”.
So, how can we become honest with ourselves and others?
We need to find a source of approval that is trustworthy and unchanging.
Luckily, that is just what Jesus desires to offer to each of us. When John sat down years after Jesus’ death and resurrection to write to some local churches, he reflected back on his time with Jesus. In the opening lines of 1 John he wrote that he had seen Jesus, spoken with him, spent time with him in person. He had a closer understanding of who Jesus was than almost anyone. What he found was that Jesus wanted to provide a way out of the sin and brokenness that plagues us all. Jesus invites us into a life free of guilt and shame. He offers forgiveness and direction for how to live life in a meaningful way. It was a life that he desperately wanted others to embrace and enjoy. But, this life wasn’t something we would be able to perfect. Thankfully, God is bigger than our imperfections and outright sinfulness. John continued by saying that when we sin (and we all will), Jesus will be an Advocate FOR us. Our bad decisions and broken actions will never change Jesus’ love for us and his approval of us. The way he loves is based on who he is, not on what we do. So, his love is relentless and unchanging.
We can follow God and still be broken, confused, and doubting. We will still find that God loves us and is for us. That sort of safety is the only ground in which honesty can grow. If you aren’t able to trust God’s love for you, you will hide everything that you feel makes you unlovable. That sort of dishonesty pushes away the love God so desperately wants you to experience. The love that leads to honesty and to growth.
May you dare to believe that you are loved, unalterably and unstoppably, and may that love give you the courage to be honest with yourself and with others.