Speaking the Truth in Love Requires Truth

real_talkContinued from here.

I used to be a huge people pleaser. I had no sense of self-worth and believed that if anyone ever saw the “real me,” she would run from the room screaming. To keep people in my life, I would twist myself into a pretzel to please them. I could put up with just about anything so long as the other person wouldn’t leave.

Because my priority was the other person not leaving, I was often not truthful with them. I set no emotional boundaries, and when the other person stepped on my toes, I would not speak up because I feared they would leave. In long-term, emotionally intimate relationships, I would put up with pretty much anything … up to a point. About once a year, I would blow, and the other person couldn’t see it coming. For 364 days of the year, I would smile and act like everything was fine. Then, on the 365th day, the person would do the exact same thing, I would blow, and the other person wouldn’t know what hit her. This was my fault, not anyone else’s, because I was not being truthful when I said everything was OK.

Paul told the Ephesians…

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” ~ Eph. 4:25

I did nobody any favors by bottling up my feelings and withholding the truth about what was bothering me. If I had simply been obedient to God and been truthful the first or second time a friend canceled our plans at the last minute, then I could have spared myself months of stewing over it as well as spared my friend the embarrassment and awkwardness of being told in a contentious manner how I felt about the behavior. Pretending that I was OK with behavior that bothered me was a lie – I was withholding the truth to manipulate the other person into staying in a friendship with me.

Today, I am much more gracious. I decide ahead of time what my boundaries are, and when they are crossed, I give myself two options: (1) speak the truth in love; or (2) let it go. As an example, I have a dear friend who often has to cancel at the last minute because of the season of life she is in. When I make plans with her, I know it’s a 50/50 shot whether we will get together, and I am OK with that. Thus, I have no truth to speak to her about this because I have already decided that I will let it go if it happens. However, if it’s something that I will be unwilling/unable to let go, I will speak with her truthfully in a gentle manner, which is the subject of the next blog entry.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace sitting on a chair by a plant below the words, “Real Talk.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]