I saw something interesting in a movie recently. The heroine was in a disagreement with her boyfriend, and he was being asked to tell the truth: had he, or hadn’t he? The gardener trimming bushes nearby was watching the whole situation, but only the boyfriend glimpsed him shake his head “no” slightly. The man proceeded to admit that he had done what he was accused of, and predictably, the woman threw all his clothes into the driveway and the gardener looked at him like he was the stupidest man alive.
My son and I were laughing about the incident when something hit me.
Why is it that men are coached, advised and expected to always tell the woman what she wants to hear? This is such standard practice; while everybody watching laughed at the scene, it was funny mainly because it was so true. Every man knows that the primary goal of the relationship is to keep the woman happy at any cost.
My son, if there’s one thing I can teach you in life, it’s that that is a bold-face lie. Women want truth and honesty. Every one wants to know the hands she’s put her heart and life into are trustworthy to hold her securely. If he can’t be honest with a direct question, if he can’t trust her with his weaknesses, what will happen to her when the going gets rough? Will she be chucked under the bus for the sake of expedience? Sometimes life is hard – we must all learn to look our trials in the eye and leap each hurdle successfully before the race can be won.
Not that it’s easy; it’s not. I had a relationship with a lady some years ago that I really had high hopes for. She and I had so much in common. I so badly wanted to be her friend in trying times as she’d been mine. Yet it seemed that so much of what she asked I couldn’t answer – either I had priority conflicts or the truth would hurt her feelings. Sometimes I had competing desires and didn’t know which way I should go. I hemmed and hawed until she never called me anymore. I felt badly about not giving her a straight answer, but I couldn’t answer her straight, either. I wouldn’t face her and be the friend she and I both needed because I feared her disapproval. I mourn the loss of her still.
I need to be more like my brother. I remember him visiting once and taking all the kids out to play trampoline directly after breakfast. Shortly after my boys showed him how easy it was to wash recycled scrambled eggs off the surface, he decided to have some real fun. He circled the children, jumped hard into the center and pulled off the largest unintentional community head bonk the world has ever seen. I arrived on the double in response to the chorus of cries. He was horribly embarrassed, but I didn’t care. He’d hurt my children and my niece (no matter that she was HIS child!) I lit into him and blew his hair back thoroughly for not thinking ahead to the physics of weight and trajectory on a combined launch. Then, since my anger was spent and nobody was seriously hurt, I returned to my tasks satisfied that justice was done. He would not do that again. Then I prayed that I had not just ruined the tone of the remaining visit; I love time spent with him. When they came in a few minutes later, he was cheerily leading a gang of boisterous, thirsty children. I got everyone drinks and he burst out in a grin.
“Y’know what, Bren? I always know where you stand. When you are happy with how things are going, you are a blast to be around; and when you’re not, we definitely all know that, too. It’s pretty clear what’s on your mind, and you are not hesitant to clear the air when necessary. I really like an honest, up-front person.”
Too funny. I was laughing at his words, but I was also seeing a major moment take place. I’d treated him as a child, and he’d taken it like a man. Now he’s not always the easiest person to be around, either, but nothing is ever left to assumption with him. He will never blow my skirt up or smooth over a wrong; he’ll face it head on until resolution is achieved for all. He’ll tell me the gospel truth even if it cuts me to the core. He knows that the surgeon’s scalpel hurts just like any other knife, but the goal is healing: for me, for him, for the relationship.
All of us make mistakes, and sometimes they’re intentional. We deserve to be rebuked for them. The harsh words are not a curse of death, and they are not proof that you should never be honest again. And while the words may not be spoken well (as mine weren’t), they bring the problem to light where it can be dealt with effectively, the wound may be cleansed, and the incident laid to rest. This would be an integral part of a healthful relationship, in my mind.
Expedience is a short-termer’s mentality. If any relationship is truly worth having for the long haul, honesty and trust must be hallmarks. Two of the most powerful forces on earth, lightning and water, both take the path of least resistance and do great damage in the process. But once the effort of stringing wire and building dams is undertaken, entire cities are lit and watered and protected from devastating storms.
May I never take the easy way when the harder way would yield better quality. May I never be quiet when words would be more effective, or yell when a glance would suffice. May I be as upfront with others as I am with my brother, and may I never treat my family worthy of less respect than my friends. May I make the effort, scary though it may be, to build the strong muscles and solid character that are essential for builders of landmarks.
I can buy my own roses
That’s not what I need to make it all okay
I need you to talk to me
I need truth and honesty
That’s the way that I want you to show it
I can buy my own roses