“When in doubt, tell the truth.” – Mark Twain
In part one of this series based on my new book, Love Like That, we talked about how truly loving like Jesus requires us to stop fearing vulnerability and start being willing to risk rejection. To that end, we must…
3. Care less about what others think
You won’t successfully achieve vulnerability, authenticity, and truth if you’re too concerned about what people think of you. Jesus held such powerful convictions that when he spoke out against injustice or hypocrisy, he couldn’t care less what others thought of him. He didn’t dwell on it–and we shouldn’t, either.
The Velveteen Rabbit was afraid the other stuffed rabbits would find out that he was stuffed with sawdust. He didn’t believe he would truly be loved for what he was. The irony is, we can’t truly love or be loved if we aren’t authentic. And we can’t be authentic if we’re preoccupied with what others think.
The “disease to please” keeps us from being authentic, and authenticity is what makes the difference between wanting to be seen as a loving person (or, impression management) and truly being a loving person.
When we’re real, our hearts work in harmony with our heads. Whether you’re in the spotlight or behind the curtain, you’re the same person. And you stop turning somersaults in order to win the love of others. Instead, you love fiercely, in part, by stepping out and outright risking rejection.
4. Speak truth with love
Jesus spoke the truth with love, and he says we should do the same: “Confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.”
It’s hard to tell painful truths to those we love when it feels like those truths will get us rejected or leave us heartbroken. But every time we give up an opportunity to speak truth to someone we love, we risk hardening our hearts–and that’s far more dangerous than simply being rejected or making someone angry with us.
Authenticity is more to do with existing as who you are than with performing a specific role. When we speak the truth from a place of love, our actions naturally follow. They’re not contrived, and there’s no performance or pretense. We no longer agonize over your every move, but instead, the things we do flow naturally from our being.
Jesus was so deeply convicted to bring others to the Father that he didn’t care what anyone thought–not even the Pharisees, who ruled the proverbial roost during that time. No, Christ keenly felt a deep anguish on a personal level for anyone who might be missing out on the message of God. He felt pain for the superficial and the hypocritical. And because he spoke truth from a place of love, he spoke truth to save them from themselves.
Putting it all together
Do you want to become a better truth-teller? The best place to start is by allowing yourself to become a little more vulnerable. Why? Like the Velveteen Rabbit, most of us eke through life being barely authentic, feeling like impostors who could be found out at any given moment.
But when we begin to acknowledge our weaknesses, disclose our insecurities, and admit our frustrations, our authenticity becomes real. We open our wounded hearts, and we become truly real.
In his book The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen says, “Making one’s own wounds a source of healing does not call for a sharing of superficial personal pains but for a constant willingness to see one’s own pain and suffering as rising from the depth of human condition.”
That’s why we can speak the truth in love. Because Jesus spoke the truth from a heart that understood pain. And he felt pain on a deep level for those people who were missing God’s true message.
Love and truth-telling go hand-in-hand. When we separate the two, we trade genuine vulnerability for superficial and meaningless approval. When we don’t love others enough to tell them the truth, we keep them at arm’s length and risk a shallow, even false, connection. But when we truly put ourselves out there, we begin to love more like Jesus loved.
In the coming week, how will you practice caring less about what others think and begin speaking the truth in love? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section!
Want to know more about how to love like Jesus did? Order your copy of Love Like That here.