“Really? I’ve never thought of you as a submissive person.”
Leave it to Mom to give it to me straight. ~smile~ Sometimes, we are blind when it comes to our own strengths and weaknesses. We may not realize how our attitudes and actions come across to the world. We may think we are sweet and kind while the world sees us as insecure and insincere. Or, we may think of ourselves as awkward and uninteresting while the world sees us as funny and engaging. There will always be those parts of ourselves others see that we cannot. That is when it is important to have loving, devoted family and friends who will tell us what they see, even if it is not pleasant. Thank goodness for loved ones who do not shy away from honest, loving feedback.
Who Else Needs my Honesty?
This week, we have discussed the importance of being honest with our sweethearts and children, but there is one more person with whom we need to embrace complete and total honesty – ourselves. Sure, there will always be parts of ourselves we cannot see without help; and then, there are parts we can see, but would rather not acknowledge.
Hello, my name is Heather, and I have not been anywhere on time in seven years. Okay, so this is not completely true, but my friends and family would attest to the fact that I struggle to arrive at destinations on time. It is something I wish I could change easily, but it is proving to be a much bigger task than I realized.
The week before last, I was supposed to be somewhere at a certain time. Going against my gut feeling, I got in the Panera Bread drive thru. THE DRIVE THRU! Panera is not fast food and all I wanted was a bagel! So, I sat there getting more and more agitated. I must, must, must get there on time. I am so tired of being late everywhere! After I finally got my bagel, I flew away. My stress level was through the roof and for no good reason. I was on my way to babysit so a friend could run some errands. Would my being ten minutes late throw off her entire day? Probably not. And even if it did, would risking my life (through faster-than-normal driving) and the lives of others be worth it? Of course not.
Today, as I was running ten minutes late and rushing out of the door, I had the thought, “I should come with a disclaimer: ‘Always ten minutes late.’” Though I do want to change my ways, I have to be honest with myself and remember that tardiness is a constant struggle for me. It will not just go away one day without effort. Hiding from this truth and pretending I am a scheduled, punctual person is not doing myself or anyone else any favors.
Facing Our Flaws
It is not fun to face your own flaws, but it is necessary if you want to grow and improve. Knowing who you are, and owning up to your personal set of struggles, will help you be honest with others (Just so you know, I may be a few minutes late for lunch). It will help you give yourself grace when you fail (I’m a little late and it is not the end of the world). And, it will help you know when to ask for help (Please, keep me accountable for being on time this week).
Steps to Self-Honesty
- Perhaps the first step to showing yourself complete honesty is by slowly opening your clenched eyelids and allowing yourself to see what is obvious. Eric was talking to a rather self-assured man years ago and he asked the man if he had ever been wrong about anything… ever. This was no spring chicken to whom Eric was talking; however, he claimed that he had never been wrong… in his entire life. Now this was a man whose eyes were closed tightly to his own failures. It may be dirty, and it may be ugly, but we cannot improve our lives and our relationships if we refuse to be honest about our weaknesses.
- In step two, you get out a piece of paper and list the strengths and weaknesses you see in yourself. You don’t only need to know where you struggle, but you need to know where you stand strong too! Your strengths may even help you overcome your weaknesses. I know I tend to be late everywhere Í go, but I know I am a good friend and my friends will help keep me accountable. Plus, keeping my word about when I will meet my friends is a sign of respect for their time. This step allows you a chance to dig a little deeper and uncover some less obvious traits. Once you find them, own them. Stop making excuses for them. Stop blaming them on others. Consider them to be the strengths God has given you and the weaknesses He can help you overcome.
- You guessed it. Step three involves going to your closest family and friends and asking them for their assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Give them some time to think about it so they are not caught off guard. Have them come to the meeting with a list and ready to talk about it. Pray before you talk to them and be willing to hear what they have to say. If you are not ready for constructive criticism, wait until you are ready before asking for their assessments. If you just lost a job, broke up with a sweetheart, failed a test, or just had a horrible day, you may want to wait for the sting to pass before inviting in some potential pain. Good, helpful pain, but still pain.
- In step four, it is time to discover the lies you believe about yourself. Maybe you think you are not good enough because you are struggling scholastically or because you believe you need to be perfect. No amount of bad grades, tardiness, or morning breath is ever going to make you worth less. Here are a few lies many people believe:
- I will never have what it takes to move up into my dream job.
- I’m not smart enough to be taken seriously.
- People don’t like me.
- I’m a big goof.
- I cannot be attractive unless my body, hair, nails, and teeth are perfect.
- I would be worthwhile if I had a better job and more money.
- I have to be charming and likeable at all times.
- I have to prove that I am good enough by constantly striving to be better.
- The more important people I socialize with, the more important I will be.
- No one understands me.
- Step Five: Confront the lies!!! Yes, I am often late to appointments, social visits, and church. Thankfully, my worth is not tied to my performance. I will continue to try to change this about myself because it will make my life run more smoothly and it will be a blessing to others; however, when I fail it will not change the value of who I am. I am not perfect and at no time in this life will I ever be perfect. State the lie you believe and then state the contradicting truth. If you are not sure what the truth is, do not be ashamed to ask trusted friends and family to help you discover the truth. Lie: I did not sing well enough. Truth: How well I sing is not important because I’m singing for God, not myself or the audience. Lie: I am worth less than my married friends. Truth: My marital status does not define my worth or who I am. God’s timing and plans for my life are perfect.
- Now that you know your strengths and weaknesses and have confronted the lies you tell yourself, step six is to act honestly. Do not try to be someone you are not. It is not good for you, and it is not good for your relationships. Keep discovering who you are and resist the urge to become someone different when you are around others. Tell them the truth about who you are by being the you God created you to be. Be deeply sincere. Do not give in to the temptation to follow the crowd if they are going against your ideals, your morals, and your comfort level. If you do not want to drink alcohol with your friends, be honest with them. Who cares if they think it is lame. They do not have to live with you. You have to live with you. ~smile~ (And, behind the scenes, they’ll be respecting you for it.) If the crowd is bad-mouthing someone and you don’t want to participate, don’t force yourself to join in just to gain a moment’s favor from an imperfect group. Who knows, you may be the topic of ridicule next week. Find a group of people who are also choosing to be sincere and honest. There will be more fun and less drama – guaranteed!
- Finally, in step seven learn to be comfortable with who you are. You do not owe the world an explanation for who you are and what you do (unless it’s against the law, of course ~smile~). This is not a license to get in people’s faces and tell them to mind their own business, but it does free you up to be you without worrying about how you are going to explain yourself to others. If you are comfortable with yourself, you will find that most people will be comfortable with you too.
American culture has downplayed honesty at almost every turn. We find dishonesty between families in sitcoms and we laugh about it. We know we are being fed lies by most politicians… and we have even come to expect it. We even categorize lies as ‘white lies’ or ‘bad lies’. I guess we think we can decide at what point a lie will cause a problem; but, we are not that powerful (all untruthfulness is lying).
Lies separate people. Lies inspire paranoia and distrust. The more we lie, the more comfortable we become with it – and, the more we lie, the more we expect other people to lie to us. If you want the best possible marriage, start striving for honesty now in all areas of your life and marry someone who is doing the same. It is the cleanest, easiest way to live. Sure, the truth can hurt, but lies hurt more. We strongly recommend an honesty-only policy in your future marriage, a loving honesty policy with your kids, and a self-honestly policy with yourself.
When you approach yourself and others with complete honesty, your life is an open book. No longer will you have to worry about covering your tracks, and life will be easier, freer, and cleaner. It’s worth it… join me.
Do you struggle to be honest with yourself?