The ultimate test of friendship - the truth

We all can cope with honesty as long as we like what we hear; we tend to believe what people are telling us if it paints a positive picture.

The test of any relationship is the level of trust and honesty we can cope with. If your other half asked: ‘Do I look big in this?’, how would you answer the question?

It’s like the age old story of the woman looking in the mirror complaining about how she’s put on weight.

Looking for reassurance she turns to her husband. After years of being together the man knows his wife is looking for a compliment to help her overcome her insecurity. Lovingly the husband looks at his wife and declares: ‘Well love, there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight’.

We can all handle the truth as long as it doesn’t challenge our self-image or perceptions of the safe world we like to create around us.

The ultimate test of friendship or love is being able to tell the truth in a sensitive manner which allows the other people to confront issues in their lives in a way which builds them up and respects their dignity.

At times we can be guilty of trying to cut people down to size, not out of any genuine care or concern; rather we enjoy making them small in case they get too big for their shoes.

At the heart of all our relationships and dealings should be the desire to treat everyone in a similar manner as we would like to be treated ourselves - this is not easy. Ultimately it is only possible through the grace of God who can enlarge our hearts.

Likewise we have to be prepared to listen to the truth which someone tells us in a manner which doesn’t shoot the messenger. However we find it difficult to listen to truths we don’t like and it’s hard not to hold a grudge against the person who tells us something we would rather not hear.

Hearing and telling the truth which has the person’s interests at heart can be a liberating experience as well as a painful one. The ideal is not to shatter a person’s confidence nor belittle who they are. Instead the aim is to challenge the person to become the person God created them to be.

We all have a responsibility to build up one another and resist the temptation to safely engage in gossiping or back biting. Looking in the mirror we need to ask God for the grace and the strength to lay our lives open before him asking for his healing and forgiveness.

Only by acknowledging our faults in a manner which allows for compassionate healing can we begin the journey to spiritual health and wholeness. No longer living in fear or exposure or fear of the past we can begin to let go our anxieties and guilt. The challenge is having the same compassion and patience with others, allowing them to recover from their mistakes and failures and helping them to build their lives again.