Here are a few questions for us to prayerfully consider…
- Can others take what I say at face value?
- Do I speak in a straightforward manner?
- Do I communicate truthfully in love?
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke 16:10
If I say, “Yes,” is that what I really mean? Or do I expect other people to decipher that I said “yes,” but I really mean, “no”?
Do I send mixed messages? Do I expect people to have to read between the lines to guess what I am really thinking? Or do I communicate clearly and concisely? Most people appreciate it when we say what we mean and mean what we say.
“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37
What if we challenge ourselves to speak the truth to others and to communicate honestly and vulnerably?
This can get a little bit dicey when we are in the process of learning respect – because sometimes when we try to be honest, we also come across disrespectfully. BUT – it IS possible to be honest, loving, godly, and respectful at the same time. I promise! That is the goal – to share our feelings, needs, concerns, ideas, and wisdom effectively – and to do so without being hurtful, disrespectful, rude, controlling, unloving, etc…
It is also possible to be honest and straightforward without arguing, nagging, complaining, criticizing, or being negative. I do admit, it takes a lot of prayer, the power of God’s Spirit, and tons of practice… but God can empower us to do this!
Some ladies think that we are sparing other people’s feelings by being very vague, by giving hints, or by not directly saying what we need, think, feel, or want.
That would be respectful, right? We may think it is rude or demanding of us to have any needs and to voice them. Actually, other people in our lives often feel disrespected and confused by this kind of unclear, murky communication. It is my understanding that it is frustrating for our men (and for other people) to have to jump through hoops and be mind readers to know what we are thinking. Women sometimes value nuance in order to try to spare people’s feelings, but not everyone can read into our hints. Our men, in particular, may appreciate us just being upfront and direct in a friendly, calm, pleasant, concise way.
When we are vulnerable and concise and we share our desires and feeling directly with respect – it draws others to us, and makes it easier for them to understand our desires and makes it a lot more likely that we will receive the things we would like.
I can ask for what I need. But even if I don’t get what I want, God can empower me not to live in sinful thinking and to walk in victory over temptation as I stay totally yielded to Him.
A big key to honest communication is for us to examine our motives:
- Why am I afraid to say the truth about what I feel? Is there any ungodly thinking going on here?
- How am I going to respond after I say what I plan to say? Is there any temptation there for me?
- How can I be honest, authentic, vulnerable, respectful, and loving? What is God prompting me to do?
Sometimes we are afraid to share our real needs and desires. We feel guilty even having needs or we think we are being selfish to say what we want. Where does that awful idea come from? We are real people, my dear sisters! We are allowed by God to have our own feelings, needs, ideas, concerns, and desires. We don’t have to pretend that we are two-dimensional, second class people who are not permitted to have thoughts, needs, or feelings.
Now, if I am ONLY concerned about myself and don’t care about anyone else’s feelings, needs, ideas, concerns, or desires – or if I do not put God first – then I may be selfish. But simply sharing what I need and want is totally fine. Then I can trust God even if I don’t get what I think is best and seek His will above my own.
I don’t have to feel guilty for sharing my feelings, needs, and ideas!!!
The other side of the coin is – I want to avoid resentment after the fact. If I am going to resent someone if I agree to something, maybe I need to re-evaluate what I need to do in order to be truthful, vulnerable, and authentic. I also want to make sure my motives are not to hurt someone else. If there is any sin in my motives (bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, hatred, envy, pride, etc…), I need to stop, pray, and get my motives right with God before proceeding.
Alternatives to Honest, Direct Conversation:
If I do not feel that I can speak directly and honestly, I will probably resort to some of the following destructive ways of getting my way…
How have you communicated in ways that created confusion in relationships at times?
Are you afraid to be honest and direct with others in a respectful way? If so, why do you think that might be?
If you have learned to communicate in a more straightforward, honest way – please share your story if you would like to. What has been the outcome so far?
Men, is there anything else about this you might like to share so that we can better understand our brothers?