Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Honesty And Love

The following bears the disclaimer of being "Just My Opinion"

I've been thinking about things written lately about honesty and love (love as in love thy neighbor). We woman are pretty aware of how loving it can be to tell someone the truth. We've all had that girlfriend who was in a bad relationship, and needed the truth told to her. But is saying "You're boyfriend is a piece of crud stuck to the bottom of my shoe, and it would be pure stupidity to stay with him" loving? Or would it be more loving to say, "I care so much about you, and would love to see you with someone who will really appreciate what a special person you are, and I don't think this guy is good for you."? Both are true, but one statement is obviously more loving.

When dealing with an issue that is by it's nature emotional for the person you want to talk to, tact is even more important. You want the truth to appear like a warm fire drawing them close, not a torch at the front of the lynch mob. Truth can be hard to hear, but becomes easier when wrapped in words of care and concern. You'd always rather hear that your skirt is tucked into your underpants from your best girlfriend than from that girl you don't like. It's a poor comparison, but it's still true. Your best girlfriend you know doesn't want to embarrass you, but that girl you don't like may be laughing at you for weeks. You don't want to hear the truth from her because she's not interested in your well-being.

Compassion and love don't mean agreeing with someone when you don't. But being compassionate could at least mean that you're sorry that they can't see things another way, or that they're in a postition to lead them to what you believe is a bad choice. I can think of at least twice when a friend had an abortion despite my talks, and it broke my heart. But not just for the baby, for the friend who thought she had no other choice, and may be haunted by her decision forever. If I had told her what people had told me about my going to hell when I delivered Sarah, I doubt she would have ever spoken to me again. And then how would I be able to tell her about the healing of Christ?

Scripture is clear about what love is. It seems such a shame to me that we are so often incapable of putting it into practice. Jesus could see the hurt in people and respond appropriately. The people that he responded to in anger were always the self-righteous and corrupt. But the broken, the hurt, the grieving he always spoke to with great tenderness. His goal was to ease suffering, and show light, not to bash them over the head in their pain.

The bible says that we can do everything right, but that without love we are clanging cymbals. I've always taken that to mean that you can tell people the truth until you're blue in the face, but if they can't sense that you say it in love, all they hear is noise. Is that really what we want? Will that be effective? And it doesn't matter how much love we think we've put into our message. If they don't hear it, it may as well not have been there. We must try to meet people where they are, and lead them with kindness, friendship, and love to where Jesus can heal them.

Tact, love, honesty, and kindness show respect. Respect for another human being as a child of God. Again today I had someone remind me of all of the non-Catholic, non-Christian, pro-choice readers I have. Well, to them I say, welcome. I'm glad you're here. I hope that I can show you one small piece of the God I worship. He's kind, He's loving, and He cares about us. I hope you stay, even if you disagree with me from time to time.

I don't really know if this post had any point, other than to relieve my overworked brain of a few thoughts that were rattling around and bumping into things. But I hope it makes clear what I believe about explaining things in a loving way. Honesty, love and kindness don't always go together, but wouldn't it be nice if we could all work a little harder to see that they did?

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