“Honesty is such a lonely word, but mostly what I need from you.” -Billy Joel

Honesty in Relationships

If relationships are built on trust, honesty is the mortar that holds the foundation together. I’ve heard it once said, “When you lie, you make yourself a stranger to me.” Think about that. When someone you care about deceives you, what you thought to be true is not, and a little bit of the reality of your relationship is either reshaped or shattered. At least that element of your understanding of your connection makes them like a stranger.

Honesty with Ourselves

What about with yourself? What must it be like to suddenly become a stranger to the person in the mirror, simply as a result of not being honest with yourself? We have desires that we long for, but tell ourselves we don’t really want them, just so we won’t be disappointed. When we’re not honest with ourselves, we make ourselves a stranger to ourselves. We have things that make us angry and yet blow them off as no big deal. We politely tell others, “that’s ok,” but inside we can feel the bitterness and resentment rising to the surface. Tell yourself it doesn’t matter and you may think you’ve effectively dealt with it, but you are really just lying to yourself, and you make yourself a stranger. Or you answer the ubiquitous question of “How are you doing?” with an equally consistent “I’m fine,” when you know you are anything but either at the moment or in this season of your life. It may be the culturally expected response, but what does it do to you inside to suppress the truth (in other words, lie) and offer a cheap substitute? Yep, you make yourself a stranger.

The Loss of Self-Awareness

The problem gets compounded when we listen to that deeply instilled voice that directs us as to how to respond to strangers: “Don’t talk to them!” So, there we are, distancing ourselves from ourselves, losing self-awareness and feeling the emotional tension that it creates. It can be a dark and lonely place. We feel uncomfortable and awkward in our own skin. In fact, we may have quite a bit of trouble liking this person who has taken up residence with us, this stranger among us.

Can We Break the Cycle?

What will break the isolation? What will remove the uncomfortable waves of unfamiliarity with the person who knows us best? Might I suggest the same word I started with? Honesty. Finding a way to swallow hard and spit it out, even if you are the only one who hears it. Get it out of the caverns of your mind and back out on the road of your life, what you really think and how you really feel. While not everything needs to be communicated to someone else, that might be just the avenue you take. A friend, a counselor, someone you can trust, but at the minimum, agree to be upfront and honest with yourself. What you are thinking and feeling may not be what you want to think and feel, but lying to yourself about it will never make it better. I can guarantee it will make it worse. Let yourself be honest with yourself, own what you think, acknowledge what you feel, know who you are and you are on the right path to transforming that stranger into an integrated, holistic person, who is known fully by you, and then, and only then can you let others fully know you.

From His Heart Foundation…

Honesty is a Biblical principle. Unfortunately, it can be easy to convince ourselves to take the easy way out—whether with ourselves or with others. As counselor Russ Brechbiel explains, we will lose out in the end. Remember this encouragement…

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:18

The truth matters in relationships and is a true expression of love.

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