On occasion, I have conversations with people who are strong advocates of “sharing their honest feelings,” with others, but their communications often cause discord and unhappiness with friends and neighbors. Their comments and observations can come across as cutting, judgmental and critical. And people who feel like they are the target of their ire start running in the other direction.
The person who shares their “honest feelings,” gets perplexed by this phenomenon. They don’t understand why being honest, in their estimation, causes so much strife. Or they are so self-satisfied in their sharing of “honest feelings,” that they are oblivious to the harm they cause.
In thinking this dilemma through, I realized that the solution lies in improving one’s understanding of what it means to be honest.
Being honest and straightforward is a virtue. It is the morally right thing to do. However, the context in which one is honest is critical to success.
There are constructive ways to be honest, and there are destructive ways to share the truth.
If one shares an honest observation with compassion, understanding and goodwill toward another, the observation can be shared in a way that brings healing and reconciliation.
If one shares an honest observation with any tinge of resentment, animosity or contempt, the effect can be destructive. It can cause more harm, misunderstanding and hurt feelings.
The God-given nature of man is to be loving and kind. When we are loving and kind, we are living an honest life with God. When we are unkind, cutting and judgmental, we are living dishonest lives with God, for God is Love.
As we redeem the phrase “honest feelings” from mortal feelings, we find ways to be honest with our neighbor, but also to be kind and compassionate. Mortal feelings can be evil, unkind, harsh and judgmental. They do not heal. They divide. True feelings are inspired by Love, they come from God and they have a good effect.
So, next time you’re preparing to share your honest feelings, reconcile them with divine Love first. Let Love inspire the words you use in sharing the truth with another, and you will grow closer, rather than further apart, in the sharing.
“An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship” Proverbs 24:26, NLT.