Being honest and being a truth-teller are two different things. I learned the importance of honesty in seventh grade when, after an entire semester of forging my mother’s signature on my practice report for band, my parents made me go to my band teacher and confess my transgression. Not to say I never lied again, but it was a moment where I learned that the long-term cost of dishonesty would always be higher than the short-term cost of telling the truth. 

Lying always feels like a short-cut in the moment. We lie when we don’t want to pay the price that truth demands. But dishonesty, I learned, has a very high interest rate with steep annual fees. It’s just not worth it. 

However, it wasn’t until I was in the trenches of adulthood that I learned the power of truth-telling. If honesty is about unmasking accurate reality for the sake of integrity, truth-telling is about unmasking the state of my soul for the sake of spiritual formation. More than telling the truth, truth-telling is an invitation from God to share the deepest parts of myself with friends who are committed to seeing God work in my life. 

I was on the phone with a spiritual friend recently, sharing some deep disappointments I am wrestling with right now. Disappointments with God, with this season of life, with relationships. She listened. She shed a few tears with me. And then she asked, “what is God asking you to let go of?” It was a simple question. But it was just what I needed, to point me back to the presence of God in my life. No opinions, no “yeah, that reminds me of the time I…” no trying to fix it.  She simply directed me to God already at work in my circumstances. 

When I stumbled upon the spiritual discipline of truth-telling, it broke open for me a means of grace I didn’t know was possible. Truth-telling directs me to God’s presence in my life, it reminds me of my true identity in Christ, and it leads me gently to repentance. 

Meanwhile, truth-telling is meant to be a give and take. And receiving deep truth from spiritual friends has grown me in unexpected ways as well. I’ve found my faith expand, my passion for prayer ignite and my love grow. There is almost nothing that endears me more to another than their willingness to gift me with the deepest parts of themselves and to pray together. 

My truth right now? Sometimes I’m still dishonest. There are days when I exaggerate the truth or lie to myself. But truth-telling never lets me live with my dishonesty for long. There are no semester-long rituals of deceit anymore because I have friends that I pray with weekly, and these friends ask me how my soul is and act as faithful messengers of God’s words of conviction, comfort and love. This free place of unmasked, unashamed truth-telling with God and with others is where the real beauty is.

— Originally published 2-21-2018. Used by permission.