Honesty

I’ve been listening to a lot of Christian Rap lately (for personal reasons) and there’s one characteristic I’ve found to be refreshing about the genre in general: honesty.

There’s this level of honesty I hear when I listen to a rap song that I don’t get from many other types of music and it’s greatly appreciated. Sometimes, it makes me wonder if that type of honesty could exist between people.

When I talk about honesty, I don’t mean brutal, unforgiving honesty. I don’t mean the kind that is untactful yet determined to tell it like it is at all times. I’ve done versions of that before and it isn’t very nice. I’m talking about the honesty that can exist between two people who know each other so well that they don’t have to speak words to communicate but they choose to anyway. That kind of honesty.

Of course, that is the most romantic (as in, dramatic/wishful) form of the honesty I’m talking about. There are lesser forms of course.  But sometimes, when I’m talking to friends I wonder what stops me from asking the most honest question or saying the most honest thing. Sometimes it’s tact but other times it’s just fear.

Steph, Nat and I have started a weekly book discussion group and it’s been pretty fun so far. it’s a good way to keep up with some of my best friends from college plus I get to read a pretty good book, Life of the Beloved, by Henri Nouwen. We were discussing the first chapter of the book which talks about being the beloved and how we often seek belovedness from others because we don’t recognize that we’re beloved already by God. Steph was talking about that when I thought of something that’s been true in my life.

I think I’ve written about this before in this space but I’ll say it again. I have these two competing desires that are constantly nagging at me: one is the desire to be known by someone and the other is the desire to not look weak. Generally, you can’t be known without being vulnerable (Latin for “able to be wounded”) but you can’t be strong without not looking weak. Honesty gets in the way of these desires because it can allow you to be known but it can also make you seem weak. At least that’s true in my case.

Sometimes, I want to ask questions that don’t prove my strength and fortitude but instead speak to my weakness and helplessness. Sometimes, I want to brush past all the social norms and etiquette and just say what I’m thinking (unless it’s wildly inappropriate).

You know what? I think I will.

If social and societal norms are the only reason I’m not doing something then maybe I should rethink my actions. I’m not governed by norms. I can do what I want. I wonder what would happen if I spent a week asking people the questions I’ve always wanted them to answer instead of waiting for some imaginary right moment when the conversation will naturally go there. I’m doing it. I should probably establish some rules of engagement first:

1. I won’t ask unnecessarily invasive questions.

There’s no reason to put people on their guard.

2. I won’t ask unrelated questions.

I won’t use this time to ask every question I’ve ever wanted to ask.

3. I’ll pick my battles wisely.

Which basically means I probably won’t ask my parents the same questions I’d ask my friends. It also means that I won’t ask questions about delicate topics that could lead to hostility. Growing pains.

4. I’ll be equally honest.

I try to do this anyway but I’m not always successful. If someone asks me a question, I’ll answer it truthfully.

5. I’ll be asking myself some of the more honest questions too.

I spend a lot of time thinking about things but not as much time answering questions. There are probably dozens of questions I’ve thought deeply about but I still couldn’t (or wouldn’t want to) give an honest answer to them. There’s that big one…

The thing about asking honest questions is I want answers but people also like to be asked questions. It’s just human nature. People like to be wondered about (to an extent) and they (generally) like being understood.

We’ll see how this turns out. It could be the worst idea I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were. I will say, I’m glad not many people read this blog so they can’t take advantage of my new-found honesty ;).

DP

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