Speaking the truth in love is overrated.
Because here’s what I hear as people “speak the truth in love”:
“Hey girl. When you wear those shorts I don’t think the guys can concentrate on what they’re supposed to be doing. We don’t want our Christian brothers to stumble now do we? I’m just speaking the truth to you in love.”
“Oh…yeah… So we never got back to you about that job you applied for here as a Sunday school teacher… Because… Well… You know… The divorce. We just can’t have that kind of unbiblical lifestyle around the children. But we think you’re great, otherwise! We’re just speaking the truth in love.”
“Oh, sweetheart! Yeah, totally! There’s totally grace for your past. I mean, your future marriage may not be quite as great because you know…damaged goods… But that’s just me speaking the truth in love.”
I think I may need a shower after looking at those accusations. Yuck.
I personally know at least one person that has been told each of the above statements from someone claiming to do the work of Jesus. Seriously?! That’s not Truth, and that’s not Love.
“Truth” has been my word for about a year. Actually it’s been a word I’ve focused on for one year to this exact month, now that I think about it. I have no idea why. I just started dwelling on it about a year ago, and haven’t been able to shake it out of my head yet. I’ve always loved the idea of Truth. And I think there are several reasons for that. For one thing, I’m a discerner and can almost always tell when someone is lying. I also love knowledge and gathering information. And I love learning about other religions and cultures. I love learning other people’s truths and finding out why they believe that. Most of all, I love looking for new ways to communicate well-known truths. I guess that’s kind of my thing when I consider what I spend a good majority of my time doing. I was told recently by a friend who read something I wrote that I “have a way of taking the truth and making it truer.” I think that’s my favorite compliment I’ve ever heard. I receive that!
I have a lot of people in my life that speak Truth to me, but not in those sad ways that I mentioned above. I wish that “speaking the truth in love” was really as pure as it sounds… but we’ve completely soiled it, haven’t we? I hate it when we, as Christians, take something so simple and mess it up by complicating it. We get stuck on these verses in the Bible that we can’t quite understand and so we debate and hurt one another with them by acting like we wrote it or something. I think the reason there is so much hurt and discord in our faith is because we argue about the confusing parts of the Bible, instead of acting out the simple parts. Like… loving one another. With no strings attached.
However, we will never be able to love each other well if we do not allow ourselves to first be loved by our Creator. That’s always the first step: letting yourself be loved. I actually don’t live my life to “love God, love others” like the little bumper stickers say… I live my life to be loved BY God, and when I soak up that perfect Love I simply cannot help but let it spill over onto others and back into Jesus. You don’t have to try to love others, it just happens when you realize how loved you are. But how many sermons have you heard preached over that? How many bumper stickers? Not nearly enough. I think one of our biggest problems is that we really do love our neighbors as ourselves… and we don’t truly love ourselves! So how in the world can that situation of loving another like you love yourself turn out any way but entirely wrong?! We have got to get into a position of receiving before we can ever get into one of giving. That seems to be a pattern seen in many different areas of life, but it starts here… with love, and allowing ourselves to BE loved.
One person who has made this “being loved” thing most clear to me, and who also explains it way better, is my friend Christa. If you don’t know about her, you need to. Start here. Christa’s entire life is devoted to helping others understand their worth and how loved they are. She’s done that for me in amazing ways ever since I’ve known her, but here’s where this story gets even more awesome.
About a month ago, Christa and her sweet family gave me a graduation present that I absolutely adore. I started crying when her 2 year old son, Moses, gave me the bag to open. One of the items in that bag was a Giving Key. If you’ve been following my blog for a long time, you may remember me talking about some of my past keys. The Giving Keys is a company that hand-stamps old keys with customized words such as love, joy, strength, hope, trust, grace, etc and turns them into jewelry items like necklaces, bracelets, rings, and more. They employ homeless people to engrave the keys, providing them the opportunity to move into permanent housing. It’s an amazing organization. One that I hope you will check out (here)! When you buy or receive a key, the idea is to eventually pass it along to someone else who needs whatever word/message appears on your key. In a past blog post, I talked about giving my “trust” key to my friend, Summer.
But back to the story about Christa… when I opened the pouch that held my key necklace I was so excited because I had given my last key away months ago and hadn’t bought a new one. I knew that if I did, the word would be “truth”, just because I’d been thinking about that word. I hadn’t told anyone this, nor had I gotten around to buying a new key. So… you should have seen my eyes bulge out of my head and my mouth fall open when I saw the beautiful key at the end of the chain engraved with the word “truth.” I was absolutely amazed. Moses kept trying to tell me there was more in the bag, including the adorable card he had made me, but I couldn’t stop staring at the key. It still gives me chills.
Here’s a picture taken last week before I had to stand up in front of a group of people and tell some truths about my life that I hadn’t ever shared like that before.
I am so thankful for people that call me into deeper Truth.
Those are the kind of people who truly DO speak the Truth in Love… perfect Love, that comes straight from allowing God to fill them up with such Love. I wish that was my first thought when I hear someone begin a sentence with “I’m going to speak the truth in love here…” Because in my mind, that translates into “I’m about to be a really big jerk here…”
I believe in speaking the truth, but mainly about my own life and about the things I know about our Savior. I can’t go into someone else’s life and pretend to know all about it, therefore giving me a right to judge them or tell them what they need to change. No way. We are called to love, without condition. And when we decide to step outside of that calling into telling others what they need to change about themselves, in Glennon‘s words “that’s like us being heart surgeons, but with blind folds on, because we can’t see like God can see.” We are simply called to love, and then God can use that love that we give in order to work one-on-one with His people to make whatever changes need to be made. We can’t play the part of the healer without God… that’s His thing. So, let’s love. Let’s be loved, and then love. That’s how we speak Truth, by loving. Not the other way around.
Love wins. Every time.