On Honesty

There is a blessedness in honesty, the kind of honesty that gets you in trouble. Let me be clear what I am referencing is self-honesty, not the one where you boost your ego by saying unkind things to others. Self-honesty is the kind of honesty that you have with yourself about yourself and the kind of honesty you share about yourself with those closest to you.

I am not always an honest person, even though I strive for it each and every day. Lacking confidence in the person I am I might be tempted to sprinkle a bit of spice on the top. Not out and out bold lies mind you, I wouldn't want to face the backlash if you did your homework, these are just little white lies that help puff up my ego in just the right places. I am sure you have no idea what I am talking about.

The problem with these little white lies is they don't let people (and myself) see (or let me be) the true me, the me God made me to be. Instead of me they (and I) see some kind of slightly blurred echo, enough definition so as to not mistake it from reality at first; but in the end a projected and hollow shell. It's this hollowness that ultimately defeats us, especially when we forget who we really are and trade the real for the shadow, or as John Ortberg calls it, the impostor self. A crust builds up over time, a hardness to the shell that slowly encases us and traps us inside of our false self. Eventually we petrify, becoming a rigid and lifeless statue forged from false ideals.

As I think through my life anything of meaning has only occurred because I chose (active verb here) to be honest about who I was and who I wasn't. It is only when we reveal our defects, our shortcomings, and our failures that we find ourselves covered in the redemption that can come from Christ, the redemption that brings congruence to our warped selves and the restoration of our full humanness. When we trade who we are, warts and all, for the shadow-self we end up completely missing the fullness of God's restoration into his image and settling for some lesser idol of our own sin-bent vision.

I think of the song Create In Me a Clean Heart and its prayer that the Holy Spirt would renew a right and harmonious spirit in us. When we forget, or do not yet know, the power of God's forgiveness we can easily trade away our own identity for some false and presumably more glamorous image. We let slide those things we would rather not admit about ourselves hoping that by taking away our humanity we would somehow become righteous. The problem with that scenario is that it is a false understanding of what God's grace is. Grace isn't some kind of spiritual surgery where God cuts out what doesn't please him; rather it is the full restoration of who he always wanted us to be. God works with all of who we are (and often in spite of who we are given the opportunity).

My prayer is that I (and you) would have the courage to step out of our own shadow, embrace our humanness in all of its weakness and frailty of being, and to hold out for the grace that comes when we let God meet our needs of acceptance.