I used to think being honest was frowned upon. If I was honest, it meant I was being disrespectful. This belief came directly from religion.
I also understood that being honest and telling the truth were not the same thing. I was encouraged not to lie, but also not to indulge my more honest thoughts and opinions. When someone broke this unspoken rule that I allowed myself to be governed by - when they were honest in their feedback or delivery of their feelings - I believed who I was and what I thought was, in turn, invalidated because I wasn't brave enough to speak up, and they got to it first.
"I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath, scared to rock the boat and make a mess. So I'd sit quietly, agree politely."
Katy Perry, Roar
I've spent many years quietly agreeing and following along, feeling like a "bad" person if I wasn't more like everyone else.
If Saying Nothing is one side of honesty, then Saying Anything would be the other.
In my teens, I perfected the art of sarcasm. I was outright rude. I would insult someone with my honest opinion to their face, and then pretend I was joking, "Just kidding!" I was witty and biting. A boy told my dad once, "I'd ask your daughter out but she's got a mouth on her. She'd make me feel bad about myself just for asking."
As I grew up, my bent for sarcasm lessened. I turned to blogging so I was free to continue saying anything.
When I started blogging as So I Married a Youth Pastor however, I cued the external voices encouraging me to silence. You're being too honest, saying too much. You're not supposed to say exactly what's on your mind. Some things just aren't meant to be said. Being bold with my words was important for my growth, especially when it came to religion, but when I found myself enjoying making those I love uncomfortable a little too much, I knew my honesty was still off balance.
I needed to find honesty's center.
I've changed my mind about being honest.
I've learned that being honest begins with the self. And nurturing myself is work; Saying Nothing and Saying Anything is far easier. Being honest, operating from the heart, takes discernment - and it's not about airing dirty laundry or telling your deepest, darkest secrets.
When I am being honest, I operate from the center of the pendulum: Say What Needs to be Said. I still make people I love uncomfortable, it can't be avoided. But being centered, I know my words are important and my intentions are to help, not to hurt. When I am unsure of something I have published, I am reminded by a simple text or email from a reader who needed to hear it for themselves.
"Even if your hands are shaking, and your faith is broken; even as the eyes are closing, do it with a heart wide open. Say what you need to say."