Personal Honesty: Key to Effective Relationships Part III
"So get rid of all malicious behavior and deceit. Don't just pretend to be good! Be done with hypocrisy [dishonesty] and jealousy and backstabbing. You must crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation."1
To help become personally honest, authentic and real, and thereby greatly enhance our relationships, the following steps will help:
First, realize that a normal human being has a whole spectrum of emotions ranging from love, joy, peace, wonder, through to fear, hurt, anger and so on. These are all God-given emotions. Without them, life would be characteristically dull and boring. To be emotionally whole means to be in touch with every God-given human emotion.
Second, we need to see our need and strongly desire to be honest.
Third, we need to admit and accept responsibility for any problems we have, and consider the possibility that our impaired relationships, dull marriage, unsatisfactory sex life in our marriage, anxiety, depression, destructive habits and any physical symptoms we have might be caused by unresolved super-charged repressed negative emotions.
Fourth, and most important of all, we need to learn to pray the right prayer. If necessary, tell God that you don't know how, or are too afraid, to be honest with yourself and need his help. Ask him to give you the courage to see yourself as you are and to face the truth about yourself. His answer will probably come in an unexpected way—perhaps through a book, a personal setback, a friend, a difficult or broken relationship, or some other painful situation. Unfortunately, most of us only look at our inner-self if we are hurting sufficiently.
Fifth, learn through practice to express your feelings openly and honestly, especially to the people who are important to you. If you're feeling hurt, afraid, confused, or angry, admit it and say, "I feel confused or angry." Never say, "You make me angry," or "You hurt me." This blames the other person for our response, which is always our problem and responsibility. Identify why you are feeling the way you are. For example, say, "I know my feelings are my problem, and I may be overreacting, but when you speak sharply to me as you just did, I feel hurt and/or angry." Or simply, “When you say (or do) things like that, I feel very hurt and/or angry.”
If the person won't accept your feelings, write them out in a letter. If you feel you should give it to the person, sleep on it and re-write it before doing so. If they still won't accept them, try what Gary Smalley and John Trent suggest in their book, The Language of Love. Share how you are feeling by using word pictures; that is, make up a story or parable that will clearly show how you are feeling.
Finally, if I love you, I will always be open and honest with you and as the Bible suggests, I will always strive to "speak the truth in love." Therefore, I will never blame you for my feelings, but will take full responsibility for them and for handling them in a loving, non-judgmental manner.
Denying our faults and feelings, acting them out blindly, or lashing out and hurting others with them, is weak and immature. Acknowledging and talking them out in a responsible manner is a hallmark of the mature adult. It may not be easy, but it is true strength, and is the only way to develop growth-producing and intimate relationships.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be honest with myself, and open and honest in all my relationships and with you—and thereby be a clear channel for your love to flow through to every life I touch. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 Peter 2:1-2 (NLT).