Telling the truth without being too honest

By | March 22, 2018 8:48 am

Don’t you love it when people tell the truth?

Honesty is certainly a virtue, and none of us want to be lied to. But can folks sometimes be too honest? … too truthful? …too blunt with reality?

“How do you like my new hairdo? (or dress…or beard…or shoes)?” may not be a question that seeks a totally honest response.

Some folks, with more honesty than sensitivity, will tell you what they really think! There are definitely those who are – shall we say – brutally honest, those who are proud to say, “I just say what I think. I tell it like it is. If you want my opinion, I’ll be glad to share.”

Sometimes, to be totally honest, I would rather you hold back, just a little bit, on how you really feel or what you really think…maybe at least soften the truth, before you hit me over the head with it.

Now you take my granddaughter, Katie Grace, as an example. She’s 4 years old and full of innocence; I could never be offended by anything she says. Besides she’s so stinking cute.

Anyhow, K.G. and I were recently looking at pictures on my phone, and up popped one of me.

“What do you think, Katie Grace? That’s one handsome dude, right?” I was kidding her, of course, and expecting her to play along.

But in her honesty and innocence she responded, with a chuckle, “No Papa. That’s YOU.”

Well, my wife doubled over with laughter. Of course it wasn’t some good-looking fella…it was Papa. Quite a difference! As stated before, the truth from my precious 4 year old granddaughter could never offend me.

Same trip, I was in the car with three females, Sammie, K.G. and our 11-month-old boxer puppy, Sophie. The puppy was being a little rambunctious, so I called her down, then said she was a good girl. I followed that by saying, “Sophie’s a good girl; Katie Grace is a good girl; Nahnee’s a good girl.” After a pause I added, “Papa’s a bad boy.” I meant it to be humorous.

But my attempt at humor was overshadowed by K.G.’s repeating of the words. For the next few days, K.G. blurted, in her own special language, about a thousand times, “Tophie da dood duhl. I’m a dood duhl. Nahee da dood duhl…” then after a slight pause, raising her voice and exaggerating the words for emphasis she would add, “…but Papa da baaad boy!” Her giggles afterwards made it clear that she meant it as a joke.

All of us laughed. Then she would repeat her terse remarks, and we’d laugh again or call her mom or someone and get her to repeat it into the phone.

Somehow when a 4-year-old is brutally honest or repeats something that wasn’t, necessarily, originally, meant to be repeated, it doesn’t sting at all. But when someone 40, 50, 60 years old says, “You really sounded pretty bad when you sang that song…” or “That tie really doesn’t go with that shirt…” or “where in the world did you get THAT haircut,” it could cause hurt feelings.

How you say something, or your age or maturity, can certainly have an effect how your assessment is received.

Surely we want to be truthful. After all, it’s a sin to tell a lie. But we should also remember Paul’s words to the Ephesians, “…speaking the truth in love…”

Be honest, but be tactful. Be sensitive to the feelings of others. Speak the truth, but speak the truth…IN LOVE.

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