Being “Brutally” Honest, etc.


Lest you think I am going soft, let me say right up front that I believe in honesty in relationships. It is one of the character qualities that those who seek husbands and wives most value. It is the foundation that trust is built upon.

Where I am taking exception is with the word “brutally”. I know that people throw this word around to get across the idea of “the most honest version” of a story. I’m all over that. But there are people who are brutal in their honesty. And when they are they miss an important character quality: kindness. Rather than consider another person’s feelings, they blurt out “truth” and wound them, often unnecessarily. This sounds more than a little bit selfish to me.

Sometimes the truth hurts, and the pain caused is unavoidable. Empathy helps to cushion the blow, and kind people think out their approach and try to be honest, but gentle. However, there are others who take grim pleasure in hurtful truth telling. They may think they are only being honest, but they are actually just acting self-righteous. This truth without grace is simply meanness – not a good character quality.  I think of this well-known passage from the Bible that talks about loving others as the highest value. I suppose you could say that it is lovingly honest.

1 Cor 13   If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

When searching for a mate, character (as in being honest, etc.) matters. Character decides what happens during crises, conflicts, temptations and trouble. Too often, certain character flaws are overlooked or minimized because our heart (feelings) overpowers our head (reality). One or two good character qualities do not make a person of good character. You have to look at the whole package. Of course, you have to be a person of good character to expect to attract a person with good values.

If you have been reading our blog for any length of time, you know that we bang on this theme of values and character a lot. Why? Many, if not most counseling issues stem from the breakdown of good values and character (The Bible calls this sin). When we improve character, we improve relationships, families and communities. Yes, it’s a big deal.

I would encourage you to take an inventory of your character qualities (good as well as needs-to-improve). Are you kind, patient, honest, generous, God-loving, trustworthy, loyal, sober, diligent, responsible, forgiving, helpful, even-tempered, etc? Does this list describe the kind of person you would want to do life with?

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