Should you say what you really think?

On the one hand, it feels authentic to really speak your mind. It takes courage to share your emotions and makes you vulnerable to share your controversial thoughts. We admire courage and appreciate people who are strong enough to make themselves vulnerable.

And yet, on the other hand, saying what you really think may not be helpful. It can do more harm than good. It can stir up division and fuel conflict. It can wound and create misunderstandings.

Our world doesn't have a lot of room for nuance.
Our world doesn't have a lot of patience to hear people out.

This week, I've found myself stuffing and stuffing and stuffing comments, holding myself in check, knowing that the fight over a specific and small disagreement would overshadow more significant and important areas of agreement. I've checked myself in conversations about politics, theology, strategy and decision-making already this week. And it's only Tuesday.

Do you think it's wise to hold back what you really think from time to time?

6 comments:

  1. This has been something I've had to deal with recently in my marriage and that I always deal with in campus ministry. I am learning that it is loving to hold back and, at times, and loving to be open. But right now, the most loving thing I've learned to do is commit to learning how to wisely choose between the two.

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    1. And the knowing the difference is wildly difficult sometimes

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  2. I believe that, absolutely and whole-heartedly. The Bible does not command us to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It leaves the middle bit out, to allow for speaking truth in love - and probably because we're too prone to reach premature judgments on the truth anyway.

    Someone's got an ugly baby? Don't tell them. They've probably figured it out already, and everyone who confirms that judgment just drives home the point that his ugliness is the first thing to be noticed.

    The person in the pew behind you is singing off-key? Don't tell them. What good would it do?

    There are plenty of other examples where the truth would only serve to hurt. You mention in your post that it takes courage to speak the truth, but only if we care about the effect our words have on others. If we don't care, we do best to shut up entirely; if we do, we already know to only speak painful truth when it's absolutely necessary.

    I posted a Pearls Before Swine strip on my blog that sums it up neatly: http://www.thduggie.com/thduggies_blog/2013/truth-will-out

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    1. Very true and very wise. Thanks for sharing, Stephan!

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    2. (though even if someone has an ugly baby, I'd doubt they'd admit it to themselves!)

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    3. "A face only a mother could love" didn't appear out of thin air! (Of course, not just their mothers are called to love the ugly...)

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