So a while back I attended a mega church where the phrases “Grace-Giver” and “Truth-Teller” were tossed around quite a bit. Often as though those two things were mutually exclusive. The people in my life at the time were VERY clear that they thought I was a Truth Teller rather than a Grace Giver. And really…I couldn’t argue.
Now that I’ve noodled on it a bit and in light of my hatred of CHURCHY language…I hate these labels.
The grace-givers in my life won’t believe this (and I’ll extend them some grace for that) but I couldn’t count the number of times as a truth-teller I have bitten my tongue and NOT said what needed to be said in an effort to extend grace. Sometimes it was necessary and needful. Other times it was cowardly and weak. I also know of times when as a truth-tell I believe I actually was a grace-giver because while speaking the truth I refused to walk away or demonstrate anything other than an extension of loving grace over the person who needed correction or redirecting.
Here’s the deal…
I think grace-givers and truth-tellers can both do a MAJOR disservice to others…Christians and Non…by holding deeply to a belief that they are one or the other. What ever happened to attempting to be like Christ rather than taking one of his characteristics and saying “I’m going to master THIS one and then claim it to be superior to all of his other characteristics?” I call BS on that mentality.
It is my observation…and others may/will disagree…that the church has women cornered into being grace-givers (GGs) almost to the complete exclusion of being truth-tellers (TTs). And I call BS on that as well.
I listen to my friends who have been GGs for their entire marriage and they are at a point of feeling like they either have to keep putting up with their husbands crap (aka extend grace until their darling hubbies can get their crap together…even after 15 years) OR get a divorce. I say…how about changing the dialogue? How about a little truth-telling endeavor? Oh it’s too scary? You don’t know how he’ll react? If you are going to consider divorce or misery as your only two options you have not done the work necessary to declare either of those two options a foregone conclusion. I think doing the work involves being honest and being communicative…EARLY AND OFTEN…even when it’s difficult.
I also think we do a disservice to our children when we do not tell them the truth. And I don’t mean by saying hurtful things. I mean by making sure that they understand our expectations and by telling them WHY they can’t have everything they want or WHY they can’t talk to people rudely or WHY we believe what we believe and are sometimes considered jerks out in the world. I think kids should get to be kids. But I also think kids are smart…and when you feed them a diet of 100% grace when they are seeking truth…they begin to question your trust-worthiness. Particularly if you start changing the story when they turn 10, 12, 15. Did I mention honesty and communication? EARLY AND OFTEN?
How about telling the truth to our parents or siblings once in a while? How about next time some vampire in your life tries to suck the life out of you, you stop being a GG for a minute and say “Hmmm…I think what this situation calls for is a dose of TT.” Then speak the TRUTH IN LOVE. If they can’t handle it and are beleivers…point them back to Jesus and go on your merry way. If they can’t handle it and aren’t…offer them some additional grace but do NOT give in to their vampiric ways.
Listen ladies…I adore you…and I want to give you some grace by telling you some truth.
Your husbands and children and parents and siblings are the people who this Truth-Teller works with every day. They are the people who look at me with astonishment when I speak the truth in a situation or call them out of their mediocrity, bad attitude, or just plain stinkin’ thinkin. If one more man looks at me like they are suddenly concerned I’ve grown a penis simply because I tell them the truth, I’m going to be all out of grace to give. And if one more woman or HR person uses the words “direct communicator” like it’s an insult, I’m going to scream…and not in a grace-giving hallelujah kinda way.
STOP CODDLING THE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIVES AND TELL THEM SOME TRUTH!
You can do this with kindness. You can do this with tact. You can do this with love. You can do this with a soft tone and a gentleness that will lead them right to the place where they need to go to have real lasting change that will improve their lives. Remember truth is not the same thing as JUDGEMENT. It is not the same thing as being a JERK. If you speak truth in a way that the person only sees YOU and not the message you are delivering, you are probably not doing the balance well between Grace and Truth. Said another way…you might be being a douchebag. Reset. Apologize. Try again.
And if you still can’t find the will to speak truth…follow these steps:
1. Get up
2. Find Mirror
3. Tell YOURSELF some truth
4. Offer YOURSELF some grace
5. Repeat until you are able to speak the truth in love over someone you love who needs to hear it from your gracious lips and gentle heart