I've been thinking recently about honesty.
I don't mean the black-and-white kind of honesty we talk about in Kid's Church... where lying is sin and telling the truth is right.
I mean that Gray Honesty. The one some people use when a friend asks if that much-too-tight pair of jeans would be good to wear on tonight's date. You ladies know what I mean. This Gray Honesty permeates our conversations with BFF's. It goes something like this:
Do you like my new hair cut?
The color is fabulous.
Do you like these jeans?
Sure, but I love your khakis too.
Isn't my new boyfriend the best?
He sure has nice hair.
You know what I'm talking about. It's the walk-around, the slip-by, the not-really-an-answer answer.
I'm certainly guilty of this at times.
But, being HONEST, ya'll, it's not really a problem for me - at least, when referring to dishonesty.
My closest friends are the ones that know only to come to me for advice if they want my Honest opinion. No gray area there. I don't mean to say that I'm rude, most of the time. Because I believe that with every word of "honesty" there must be a lot of love and a lot of tact. A spoonful of sugar, and all that....
Still, I also believe there are times when a friend needs a swift kick in the tail:
No, that boyfriend is NOT great; he is borderline abusive.
Yes, you DO talk about sex too much, and it makes people uncomfortable.
Yes, God loves you, and at some point you're going to have to believe it.
My problem is not in the honesty. I have no problem saying what needs to be said.
My problem is balance. This is what has been on my mind over the past few days. Because...
Sometimes a friend just needs to rant and rave and vent, without "honest" responses. Sometimes she just needs to feel like someone is on her side.
Sometimes, in anger, honesty becomes less about tact and more about hurting the other person... even if it is "the truth."
Sometimes, my honest opinion is wrong.
Sometimes, honesty is asked for... and sometimes, it's unwanted advice.
These are the things I struggle with. Tell me to be honest, and I'll put that gray area to shame. But that's just it, I need someone to tell me when to be honest. And I need someone to tell me when to shut my mouth.
My friend Starr is excellent at both. She comes to me with problems, and then she says, "I'm not looking for answers, I just need to vent." or she says, "What do you think?" That's my cue. Then I know how to respond.
But she's the only one I know who gives those cues.
So what about the other 5.9 billion people on the planet (or at least the hundred or so that I know)? How do I respond to them? And how do I learn when to respond?
So that's what I have been praying about recently. I pray that the Lord will give me wisdom and timing and tact. I pray that my words will be used for healing and refreshing, not pain and judgment. I want my words to be like this....
The right word at the right time
is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,
And a wise friend's timely reprimand
is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.
Proverbs 25:11 (The Message)
What about you? Do you and your BFF's have "honesty" cues?