Our culture is fast-paced, competitive, image-driven, and remarkably egocentric. To make matters worse, social media allows each of us to engage heavily with others without really engaging. Not a day goes by where I don’t see young men and women sitting across from each other texting or enthralled in Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat with someone else as opposed to looking the person across from them in the eye and partaking in honest and real conversation. The things missing here are the very things close relationships require to thrive… honesty, vulnerability, accountability, intentionality… and ultimately, community.
These elements of relationship are deeply connected to one another. But each plays a specific part in creating a healthy dynamic in our friendships.
Today, we are going to take a look at honesty. What does it mean to be honest and what does it provide a relationship? If we look at the definition, to be honest, is to be genuine, truthful, sincere, credible, and honorable in one’s principles. In fact, the word’s origin (honos – Latin) means to be held in or deserving of honor. But often, our society uses truthful and honest as synonyms. And if we’re not careful and only embrace the “truthful” portion of the definition, we can get ourselves in some major trouble.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m just being honest!” when something is true but intended to hurt someone else or intended to cause conflict. Have you ever been guilty of offering up factual information, truthful information, with the intent of stirring the pot? When you do this, you're not being honest, you're being being an ass!
We need to understand that being truthful and being honest are not mutually inclusive.
Our words can be true, but if the intent behind those words is to cause pain or we have ulterior motives, we’re not being honest. We are using factual information in a dishonorable way. There are times in every relationship where our heads might tell us we’re being honest with a friend or partner, but the actions or methods of communication don’t align. No matter how true our words might be, if they are said with the intent to hurt, to wound, our behavior, our intentions are not honorable, and therefore we are not being honest. Saying one thing (regardless of fact) and meaning another is not being honest.
Passive-aggressive communication is not being honest. Using words as weapons (no matter how true) is not being honest.
When we embrace what being honest means, when we have the reputation of being honest, others know they can trust what we say to be true, and that the intention of what’s being said is pure. When we bring honesty to the table and it is utilized as a fundamental ingredient in our relationships, our friends, spouse, and children know the words that pass our lips are true and the intentions of our hearts are pure.