Honesty isn’t everything

The title of this post might catch you up short. No – I’m not saying that honesty isn’t important. I’m also not saying that it isn’t a command of God.

What I’m saying is that honesty, defined as full transparency, with every inward struggle and angst worn sleeve-ward, is not the highest virtue.

I got to thinking about this as I surfed through the blogosphere one day, reading people’s feelings about this and that, and feeling like I was being sucked into a vortex of negativity. Now, negativity is something I can generally brush off like the black snowflake it often is, but when it’s in the church (did I mention i was surfing the God-blogosphere?) it tends to have barbs on it.

What interested me in particular were the accolades being passed through linkage to these “fearless, honest” (but extremely negative) bloggers. Not only did I have to wonder at just how much bravery it takes, really, to press the “Publish” button, but I also wondered if it really does much good to splash one’s darkest musings on the walls of cyberspace.

Then I began thinking about Mother Theresa.

And a post was born . . .

I’m a bit late to the Mother Theresa discussion, but you may have read of the recent disclosure that, based upon her private letters, it appears that she endured a decades-long dark night of the soul, and was troubled by doubts about God and his seeming absence in her life.

But Mother Theresa was born into a different generation; a generation that knew that life was hard and knew what duty was and understood the flitting nature of feelings and emotions.

And that’s what amazes me. In the midst of all that she was going through internally, Mother Theresa obeyed what she understood God’s call to be in her life, and she went to and served the least of these in a place that placed a crushing weight of tragedy, disease, and poverty upon her and the sisters of mercy that worked with her. She obeyed even when she didn’t feel the joy of salvation or the presence of God. And she sustained this obedience through decades of service.

In a strictly legalistic sense, she wasn’t very honest about how she was feeling. At least not publicly.

And in hiding her inner thoughts and, indeed, denying herself in that area she was able to continue the work Jesus had given her to do.

Perhaps she realized that the way we feel, right now, is rarely reality, and that the dimness of the glass that we look through has not diminished in the least the light of glory that awaits on the other side for those who persevere. And, through her suffering, perhaps she realized that it really wasn’t, in the final analysis, about her.

God bless her. And may I grow to be half so wise.

7 thoughts on “Honesty isn’t everything

  1. Good post, Bill. I have two takes on this. First, bearing one’s soul makes for a very interesting read in the blogsphere. I have found that, when someone writes about personal doubt, fears, or depression, they don’t always want to be comforted. I have been rebuked more than once when I responded with encouragement to someone who seemed to really be struggling. I suppose I can’t tell the difference between an essay and an honest to goodness cry for help.

    Second, “transparency” (rather than “honesty”)is very important, but we must know when to be transparent and when not to be. For instance, let’s say that I begin to really doubt my faith. Well, it’s fine for me to talk to you or some of my other peers about it. But, it is not appropriate for me to air out those doubts with my kids or when teaching Sunday School. Mother Theresa was in the world spotlight. If she aired her doubts without discretion, many people in the world would sit up, take notice, and begin to question their faith also.

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