Thursday, June 19, 2014

Nothing But the Truth

Spoken word poet Alysia Harris embodies the art of telling the ugly truth in a beautiful way.  She speaks with her whole face, her whole body, she loses her voice and makes herself cry 90% of the time.  This is how you know what she's saying is true.  If you can write it, edit it, memorize and rehearse it and have it still bring you to tears, you're onto something.

She tweeted this quote years ago:

The best example I have of this truth is me and my bestie, Jess.  She and I have been making best friendship work for almost 8 years.  Over the last 6 months, we have been really committed to deepening our friendship by talking more regularly even though she lives in Germany (remember last week's post? Make it work. We use the Voxer app) and praying with and for each other.  We give each other updates on all the big stuff and all the little stuff several times a week.  When we disagree, we figure out why we disagreed. When we get frustrated we tell each other, we apologize, and we attempt to not make the same mistake again. We still sometimes make each other cry.

Any time you talk to someone this often, you will need a set of principles to guide you.

Here are the three things that work for us:

God - If Jess and I did not each (not one or the other, or one on behalf of the other) have a firm commitment to a God who never gives up on His relationship with us, we would probably have given up on our friendship with each other.  In fact, when we were both weaker in our faith, it was much harder and we made more and harsher mistakes.

Also, if we did not each understand a God who forgives endlessly and gives more grace than we could ever give or deserve, we would not have an example of how to treat each other with grace and forgiveness.

Love - Jess and I have spent countless hours discussing the different facets of that four-letter word.  We always use the Bible as our guide - 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 4:7-11, Ephesians 3:17-19 (she asked me to read this at her wedding, even after I'd been really mean to her - that's love), and countless other scriptures.

We take what we read and we attempt to apply it literally.  The Bible is a book of instructions given to a beloved group of people from a Father who only wants what's best for them. And we know "Love...rejoices in the truth" (1 Cor. 13:6).

So, when Jesus says, "turn the other cheek," it literally means that in a fight when a person hits you, love would guide you not to hit them back. For real. This is only figurative in that it can apply to non-physical fights.  If someone calls you a dirty name or cusses you out, you are not to retaliate.  Love stands down, takes the hit, extends forgiveness (without being asked) and does not hold a grudge. Look at Jesus on the day of his crucifixion. Whoa. We don't like this because we see "being a doormat" as enabling the other person's bad behavior.  But somehow Jesus didn't see it that way, and I can't presume to be smarter than him.

Honesty - You have to tell the truth. We make the mistake of believing that others are not smart enough, stable enough, or loving enough to handle our truths or treat us well in the face of our truths. That's where we have to be patient, loving, and forgiving and give them time, space, and resources to understand us.

Jess and my friendship finally became smoother when we learned how to disagree with each other and still be loving and supportive. Aristotle is attributed as saying, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." As friends, we have to entertain each other's thoughts, feelings, ideas, plans, goals, and potential relationships.  We must entertain them, and if they need re-sculpting, be honest and loving enough to tell our friend why and offer support for how.

It is as simple as 1, 2, 3 and as incredibly difficult.  True communication, true friendship, true love, requires honesty to make us better people.  Someone has to tell you that you are spending too much time at the club to really make your business successful.  Someone has to tell you that the way you speak to people discourages collaboration.  The only way I've seen to be honest without ruining your rapport with people is to always temper your honesty with love.  The only way I know to be dedicated to love is to follow God's example, especially in Jesus Christ.


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