“Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard. But mostly what I need from you….” (Billy Joel)
Life thrives on health. And healthy relationships thrive on honesty, on commitment to truth, whatever pains may ensue. This is the same for all human interactions—with spouse, children, parents, colleagues, friends, etc. But supremely with God and oneself.
I’m learning that in order to be honest with others, I must first be honest with myself. I have to summon the moral courage to take a good look at where I’m at, what I like and dislike, where I’m going and with whom I’m going.
My wife has been the truest friend I’ve ever had largely because she sees me and tells me the truth, rarely with anything other than love. She has helped me be courageous in asking myself tough questions about life and answering with the antidote of truth, even though it hurts. One of my targets over the past few years is the practice of radical honesty, primarily with myself. This will help me be more authentic with others because I’m a unity, rather than a potpourri of different selves adapting to the moment.
Go get alone, maybe with a journal and a cup of coffee or glass of wine, whatever, and ask yourself these tough questions and answer honestly:
- Am I being true to my professed values, both in the public eye as well as out of line of sight? There is inherent tension that visits us when we profess one thing and live another.
- Have I come to terms with the fact that I drove my own car to the place I’m at and to go further in my journey, I’ll have to drive there? Devil didn’t make you do it, the economy either, nor your parents. Did they influence? Of course. But we either acted or chose not to act. This is a tough sell but you must own this.
- If money were no option, what would I do for a career? We’ve posted previously here at The Upside about the importance of doing what you love and were designed to do. You have a sacred obligation to provide for your own, even if digging ditches. But don’t stop there. Work towards your dream occupation. President Kennedy was fond of quoting the Greek maxim: “Happiness consists in the full use of one’s faculties along lines of excellence in a life affording them scope.”
- Am I continuing to nurture relationships that are hurting me? I spoke with a dear friend about this point earlier today. This is something of a mantra on this blog, but you really have to choose your circle of friends and acquaintances carefully. Do they spur you on or deflate you? And can you goad them in the direction of their best selves? A certain prominent minister was once given the sage advice “You need to go where you’re celebrated, not where you’re tolerated.” Think about that. In what environments are you most appreciated—who you are as a person, your giftings, and your values? It matters.
Honesty is therapy. You will ultimately be a much happier person as you really start to tell yourself the way it is from this moment on. There may be pain at the outset but that will be replaced with more peace, if only because you’re finally authentic.
“To thine own self be true.”