Even the closest relationships can be very tough. In fact, in many cases, the closer the relationship, the more difficult we have acting lovingly. Unfortunately, the old adage, “familiarity breeds contempt,” is all too often true.
What creates sustaining love? What are the habits practiced by people whose love continues to root deeper and deeper? What might we practice that will move us out of the ruts in our closest relationships? Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring habits that can begin to transform how we relate to those we care about the most, whether friends, family members, or spouse.
Habit #1 – Graceful Truth-Telling.
According to the Bible, Jesus came bringing both “grace and truth” (John 1:17). Those two qualities often do not go together naturally. We know people who “tell it like it is,” and we know people who are always reticent to step on toes. Most of us are wired with a bias in one direction or the other. Personally, my wiring makes me hesitant about stepping on toes. I hate confrontation. The funny thing is that I have developed all sorts of effective rationalizations for avoiding conflicts. I know of others who will not hesitate to bite your head off with the truth. They rationalize that it is the other person’s problem if they cannot handle the truth. Both sides become experts at rationalizing, and nothing changes!
Jesus never hesitated to speak the truth, but He did so with gentleness and grace. He did not hold back, but He spoke frankly with kindness.
If you know yourself as one who has no problem telling it like it is, work to grow in gentleness and kindness. Learn to pause before you speak. Ask yourself, “how can I say this truth with gentleness and kindness?” Is love guiding your words?
If you know yourself as one who hesitates to speak the hard words, or tackle the tough issues, be courageous! So many relationships are stuck because both sides are unwilling to talk honestly and kindly about the really tough problems. What issue do you need to talk about with your loved one with truth and grace?
The delicate balance is to be a person who discerns the right place for truth and the equally right place to extend grace. The strongest relationships have a balance of both grace and truth.