White lies are sometimes told to protect people’s feelings or to prevent conflicts. The absence of conflict however, does not automatically mean the presence of peace. Sometimes things left unsaid creates internal conflicts that can manifest into illness and stress.
Paul cautions us to speak the truth in love and this does not mean glossing over issues and pretending that everything is ok. I had a lecturer at university who coined the phrase ‘carefrontation.’ She felt that we often have to care enough about someone or a relationship in order to be honest with people about how we feel. This however has to be done in a constructive way which helps the person and not harm them. She also used the phrase, ‘say it straight or show it crooked.’ In other words if we are hurt, angry or upset about something and we choose to not say anything, it can manifest through our actions.
The advice was to carefully and skilfully find a way to let people know how we feel, while trying not to hurt their feelings. We know that not everything that we think needs to be said and if our need to speak is to ‘get it off your chest,’ rather than to help someone or restore a relationship, then this is not the right motive.
Timing is important and being mindful of what is going on for other people will also help us determine the best time to speak. Jesus taught his disciples that if they knew that a brother or sister had a disagreement with them, to leave their gift at the altar and go be reconciled to their brother or sister and then come and offer their gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)
In other words you have to be reconciled with others to be right with God and sometimes being reconciled requires a honest conversation. Relationships grow out of difficulties and conflicts that have been managed well. Let us pray to God for wisdom and ask God to show us anyone who we maybe putting off having a conversation with. People are very rarely able to read our minds and guess what we are thinking. We need to clarify expectations and talk through misunderstandings and speak the truth in love.