If we're honest, I think we would all agree that sometimes the truth hurts. Ladies, when we ask our husbands if a particular dress makes our behind look fat, we want him to say, "Absolutely not." Right? Part of us wants to know the truth so as not to embarrass ourselves but the other part doesn't want to deal with the pain caused by such a harsh reality. Men, when you ask your wife if you're just as good looking as the latest Hollywood star, you want her to say, "Oh, baby, he's got nothing on you." Right? Flattery makes us feel good, but according to the Bible, it is truth that will set us free.
When I first began dating Jason, we were both attending Bible College. Our relationship was new and exciting and, for me, a bit exhausting. See, for most of high school, I had dated a guy with a very touchy ego. He did not take criticism well at all. Even a comment said in jest could throw him into a fit of rage (nothing physical, mind you, but words can often hurt just as much as a punch in the face). Anyway, throughout this experience, I had learned to walk on eggshells. Now that I was in a new relationship, I had a decision to make. I could continue to walk on eggshells, being careful not to say anything that could be taken wrong, or I could relax, be myself and see if this new guy liked me for who I was.
Just a couple of months into our relationship, I was faced with a situation where I needed to decide how I was going to proceed. Jason arrived at school in the standard dress of shirt, slacks, tie and a jacket. The ensemble was a mixture of various shades of browns, grays, and yellowish tan. The shirt matched the tie, but not the pants or jacket. The tie could have gone with the jacket except for the flakes of red in it. The pants, being a weird shade of yellowish tan really didn't match any of it. It wasn't hideous, but as soon as I saw it, I felt embarrassed for him.
Love (and yes, I'm pretty sure I was already in love with him at this point) dictated that I tell him the truth to save him from future embarrassment. Maybe if we could laugh about it together it would save him from the humiliation of others laughing at him. But, I was afraid. What if he got offended? What if I hurt his feelings? What if he said he never wanted to see me again? It was a tough decision, but to be honest, I decided I was tired of walking on eggshells. I wanted to be freed from that prison, and if Jason was going to be as touchy as the last guy, it was best if I found that out sooner rather than later.
I told him the truth in the most loving and compassionate way I could. As he held his tie against his pants and then his coat, he grimaced and laughed. "You're right. They don't look good together at all." We laughed about it and, in fact, still laugh about it today, nearly 23 years later. But more than that, to this day, Jason will bring me his clothing choice and ask, "Does this look right together?" He doesn't need my approval. He's a grown man, and he's much more fashion savvy than he was in college. But he asks because he knows I will tell him the truth and save him from embarrassment. The truth definitely sets us free.
Before I close, though, let me point out that there is a right and wrong way to deliver the truth. The Bible tells us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:14-15). As I said earlier, sometimes the truth is painful and difficult to hear. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be said, but it does mean it should be said tactfully and compassionately. Men, when your wife asks you about that dress, please don't respond by saying, "Nah, we'll just get you a "wide load" sticker to put back there." Ouch! Instead, tell her that she might be more comfortable in something that's not quite so tight. And ladies, when your man asks how he compares to the studmuffin on television, don't say, "Well, he's younger, thinner, more muscular and has more hair, but he didn't ask me to marry him; you did." Good grief! Instead, let him know that you only have eyes for him (if that is the truth, of course--which I hope it is).
Remember, love is kind, so when you speak the truth (and you should), do it with kindness. Watch your words. Watch your tone. Pay attention to your body language. Make it easy for your loved one to say, "Thank you for telling me the truth. It wasn't easy to hear, but I know you did it because you love me and want what's best for me." Make it easy for them to rejoice in the truth!