To Be Honest with You…
November 10, 2023
by Rev. Brigette Weier
Ah honesty, as the great theologian Billy Joel sang, “it’s such a lonely word, everyone is so untrue.” Maybe it’s an occupational hazard, but I spend a lot of time pondering honesty and its close cousins: integrity, truthfulness, and clarity. To be honest with you, I don’t know that I have anything new to add to the social conversation of these concepts, but I’m going to give it my best, honest, effort.
As a child, I had a few run-ins with honesty, or should I say, dishonesty. I didn’t like negative consequences and so I would, ahem, stretch the truth in a pathetic attempt to sidestep punishment. Perhaps it’s my personality or it could be a universal human trait, but when I deceived others, I discovered I was punishing myself. One deception often led to another, which led to blunders and the truth coming out anyway. It turns out, I’m a horrible liar, which is why I don’t play poker. I’m bad at the bluff.
Now, these deceptions in my youth were mostly around, “did you break that handle,” or “did you do your homework” and not “did you rob a bank.” But as I matured, and am still maturing, I recognized the slippery slope of how you do anything is how you do everything.
To be honest with you, I have always wrestled with congruity and integrity in my thoughts, words, and actions. I thirst for synergy between my internal feelings, motivations and desires and my external interactions with you and the world. In other words, I deeply connect with the Apostle Paul’s lament “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7: 15) My translation: “Why do I suck so much?”
Paul recognized that God’s honesty, integrity, truthfulness, and clarity with us can be as devastating as it is freeing, as God refuses to allow us to believe the lies and deceptions the world tells us about who we are as well the lies and deceptions we tell ourselves. It’s devastating to have the mask torn off and to see ourselves honestly in the love of God who created us. What if people see that I’m anxious, a teeny bit self-absorbed, terrible at calling friends and family, and always worried I’m missing out on the next best thing? Or what if who I am isn’t good enough for some people, people I want to like and love me? To be honest with you, that will sometimes be true. It is also true that it leads to trouble when I try to be who I am not, when I deceive myself, the truth is not in me and when I try put this square peg into a round hole, to meet the expectations of people around me, or society or whatever the measure of my worth du jour.
Now in my 50’s, I am learning that to trust God’s honesty, is to embrace all my pieces, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the now grayer and jigglier. To embrace all the pieces that make me, me, I must mute the voices, including the ones in my head, that want me not to be me. (That’s a lot of “me” in that sentence but hang on.) When I do this, it’s not only about me, but about US. This is the honesty that God confronts me, you and us all with daily through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus understands the lament of Paul, and says the way of honesty, to live in way that defies the deception of the world, that who we are, is indeed good and very good because God declared it so in the beginning. Honesty removes our isolation, connects us to God and each other and gives us insight and wisdom to connect all the pieces of ourselves to Jesus. So, maybe Billy Joel didn’t quite get it right, honesty isn’t a lonely word, honesty is God’s word of unconditional love for us that builds community and connection that frees us to live truly and to truly live, to live in God’s abundance and grace. Honesty reveals God’s promise to be true and empowers us to be our true selves. To be honest with you, this is a journey, and one that I am honestly grateful to share with you, my siblings in Christ.
May the God of honesty bless you.
May the God of truth embrace you.
May the God of love connect you now and forever. Amen.
Pastor Brigette is bi-vocational serving half time as an advocate for Utah Care for Kids Network and half time St. Mathew’s Lutheran Church in Taylorvilles, UT. She is a former Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries summer ministry team member and was active at the Lutheran Center in Lincoln.