Dare to Be Honest, Part III
A Key to Healthy Living and Effective Relationships.
What joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, 'I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.' And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone."1
How well King David knew the pain from hiding his guilt and what joy comes to those who live in complete honesty. The point is, whenever we fail to admit our sins and faults and talk or write out our negative feelings in creative ways, we inevitably act them out in self-destructive ways.
Dishonesty and denial of emotions also acts as poison to relationships. It erects "brick walls" around the heart and suffocates love.
Best-selling author, Dr. John Powell, believes that "most of us feel that others will not tolerate emotional honesty in communication. We would rather defend our dishonesty on the grounds that it might hurt others, and, having rationalized our phoniness into nobility, we settle for superficial relationships. Consequently, we ourselves do not grow, nor do we help anyone else to grow. Meanwhile, we have to live with repressed emotions—a dangerous and self-destructive path to follow. Any relationship which is to have the nature of true personal encounter must be based on honest, open, gut-level communication. The alternative is to remain in my prison, to endure inch-by-inch death as a person."2
Denial of emotions also causes the exaggeration of opposite characteristics. Saccharine-sweet people often seethe inwardly with hostility. People who withdraw take their anger out on others in underhanded ways. Withdrawal is a "dirty way to fight." The dogmatic are riddled with self-doubts. The overconfident are insecure. The extremely prudish are overcompensating for sexual inadequacies. Others silence painful feelings in over-busyness or go-go-go activity, substance dependency, destructive behavior, overeating, constant talking, unbalanced religious fervor, theological rigidity, a controlling attitude, and so on.
Some project their faults onto others, seeing in them the very faults that lie hidden within themselves. They simply cannot accept in someone else what they refuse to accept in themselves. Or they might displace their bad feelings by taking them out on somebody else. For example, Fred may be angry at his boss, but fearing he may lose his job if he says anything, takes his feelings out on his wife and children.
We can also become experts at rationalization. For example, when we deny our fears, we can unconsciously sabotage our relationships, or set ourselves up to fail in certain situations. We then brush off our failures by making excuses, blaming others, or even by saying what happened must have been God's will!
Dishonesty with ourselves or anyone else never pays. Honesty is still by far the best policy!
To be continued ... How do we learn to be honest with ourselves?
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the courage and help me to be real—to be totally open and honest with myself, with you, and with at least one trusted friend. And please help me to find a trusted soul-mate with whom I feel totally safe to be open and honest. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen."
1. Psalm 32:2-5 (NLV).
2. John Powell, Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? p. 61. Argus Communications, San Mateo, Illinois. Copyright 1969. Used by permission.