Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who expresses their feelings of disgruntlement about someone or something else? How many times have you heard this kind of sentiment pre-fixed with the phrase, ‘I’m just being honest’?
Whether the complaint is reasonable or not, there’s something about the subjective use of the word ‘honest’ that shifts the conversation from a matter of principle to become something that is profoundly personal. To query the validity of the vexation at this stage would then be to question the very integrity of the complainant. There’s no-where else the conversation can really go from there.
Social media (especially Facebook) can be quite notorious for this kind of thing. No doubt you’ve witnessed one of those ferocious tirades on your timeline where someone lays bear their emotions and lambasts another. The thing is, it’s so easy to be a keyboard warrior who sits behind the comfort of a computer screen typing all kinds of ‘honest’ feelings, criticisms and complaints. However, it is never wise to do this….ever. It might garner attention & some short term sympathy but it actually inflicts huge long term harm to the writer’s credibility, whether the comments are valid or not.
Honest dialogue is an important part of life. However we must always remember that a dialogue is a two way thing. What if the ‘honesty’ that a complainant expresses isn’t totally honest? What if the disgruntlement merely focuses on the 10% that’s wrong but fails to acknowledge the 90% that’s right? Is this really honest? What if the backstory of the complaint is to do with personal disappointment, a bruised ego or a bias toward negativity? Can it then be said to be truly honest? Where’s the accountability?
Too often, the words ‘I’m just being honest’ are actually an excuse for negativity. Such words rarely reveal the real reason for a person’s annoyance. For example, how many times will someone come straight out with it and honestly say, ‘I’m just really bitter that I was overlooked?’. Or how about the brute honesty of, ‘I like to be in control rather than respect authority’, or, ‘I’m just a really jealous and envious person’. Ok, the latter gets a bit extreme. But it kind of makes the point. At least it would be truly honest.
A little bit of life experience has taught me that when someone expresses negativity towards someone or something else, there is invariably a story behind the story. In this instance, real integrity would be to face up to the issues of the heart rather than try to apportion blame. Don’t Facebook your problems. Just face them.
The Psalms teach us much about honesty. Sometimes they’re full of positivity and praise. However sometimes they’re angry and even bitter too. But they always come back to the heart. Our heart is our own responsibility. We are it’s gatekeeper. This is where honesty really begins.
In Psalm 139:23-24, David says: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
This is real honesty. It’s all about managing our own heart.