I was fairly oppressed as a child – the oldest of six. We weren’t allowed to voice our opinion in our dad’s house unless it was the same as his. Once in a great while, however, (and never around dad) if the situation seemed important enough I would speak up – rather bluntly. It was rare, but it happened. My mom used to tell me that I was tactless. Most of the time, I communicated with my eyes. My dad called it “fire eyes” and it usually got me in trouble. Funny little aside that reminded me of that: my sister recently said to someone about me, “She won’t confront you, but she can give you a look!”
Then somewhere in my twenties I experienced an awakening, if you will. I discovered that I had definite opinions and I enjoyed expressing them. I became a little more outspoken. The tact was still missing though. I called it like I saw it and your response was up to you. I was very confident in the fact that I was not responsible for other people’s feelings. This continued into my thirties until I got some very negative responses to my “straightforwardness”. I clammed up again.
I’ve gone back and forth like that most of my life. Only those closest to me have always known what was on my mind. Those with whom I felt safe and not judged. Finding the balance between truthful and tactless has always been a challenge for me. I love and admire people who speak their minds without fear. They speak with confidence. These people call it like they see it in a truthful way. That’s all. It’s just the truth and you either respect it or you don’t. I think it’s an art that I never mastered.
The Bible tells us to speak the truth in love. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, -1 John 4:18a And the fear of man . . . “The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the will be exalted.” -Proverbs 29:25.” -Ephesians 4:15. I’ve come to learn over the years that God’s love is gentle, yet firm. There is no fear involved.
So, for me, I see this as the balance: Speak TRUTH, make sure it’s coming from love and not pride or the need to be right (which is kinda the same thing), and be concerned with what God thinks of your words. Also, check to be sure that what I want to say needs to be said. “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” -Ephesians 4:29. This doesn’t mean that we’re just supposed to blow sunshine.
Sometimes the truth can be hard to hear. It doesn’t feel good or helpful at that moment. That doesn’t mean its not. And even Jesus didn’t shy away from some name-calling and finger pointing when He was calling out evil. He called a spade a spade. . .hypocrite.