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Compassionate Candor

7 Feb

Sometimes candor, the quality of being totally frank, is helpful. Sometimes, it hurts.

I’m not sure what to think about this exchange!

“Soon after our last child left home for college,” the woman said, “my husband was resting next to me on the couch with his head in my lap. I carefully removed his glasses. ‘You know, honey,’ I said sweetly, ‘Without your glasses you look like the same handsome young man I married.’

“And my husband replied with a grin, ‘Honey, without my glasses, you still look pretty good too!” *

When we use candor, we are being open and honest with a person. But too often, the temptation is to become harsh or insensitive.CompassionateCandor

Paul tells us to become more like Jesus our conversations.

While the context of Ephesians 4:15 is the need to speak truth in doctrinal matters—that we must speak God’s truth rather than worldly philosophies, and do so lovingly—many counselors use this verse to remind Christ-followers how to speak to each other if they are to “grow up into every way into him . . . into Christ.”

Certainly, even without this verse, we know our speech is to be truthful, because truthfulness is part of God’s character. He is a God of truth (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 57:10). Jesus said, “I am . . . the truth” (John 14:6).

But Ephesians 4:15 says our speech must also be loving. And that’s not surprising, because God is love  (1 John 4:8).

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons we do not speak with compassionate candor is our problem with pride.

  • We think we know it all.
  • We think we know more than others.
  • We think it’s our responsibility to set them straight.

Oh, how we need humility before we speak. Why?

1. Humility recognizes we have our own issues, our own struggles. That’s why Jesus encouraged people to consider their own problems before confronting others with the truth they may need to hear (Matthew 7:1-5). We’re not to judge others; God is the judge of human hearts. When we are mindful of (and even acknowledge) our own weaknesses and limitations, our hearer will be more receptive. This kind of authenticity also brings honor to the Lord.

And authenticity is a key word here. Pride and defensiveness will become evident in body language or tone of voice, even if our words sound “humble.”

2. Humility before speaking will communicate a Christ-like attitude. We are not to think of ourselves too highly, but to speak from a desire to serve others (see Romans 12:3 and Philippians 2:1-5).

3. Humility will allow us to listen first, choose our words carefully and not jump to any conclusions (James 1:19). Honesty must be accompanied by thoughtfulness and sensitivity.

4. Humility will allow us to be gracious, charitable, compassionate with our words. (Consider Luke 6:36-38.) The intention will not be to embarrass, but to help. [In the case of an erring believer, to goal is to restore! There is a proper way to speak truth in love, in that case (Matthew 18:15-17a).]

Humility is actually just part of speaking truth in love. Mary Kassian, author of Conversation Peace, said, regarding the kind of speech we need to share: “… tenderheartedness is just part of the equation, but you also have to add honesty in there, authenticity . . . humility and faithfulness.” **

Compassionate Candor is a matter of packaging truth for others in a way that will help and serve them and glorify God.

We must birth the truth in humility and wrap it in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a love.

We practice this best in the home. How do we practice compassionate candor with a marriage partner? With our children?

Practicing Compassionate Candor:

1. Consider the most kind, diplomatic way to express a painful truth. Wrap it in love that the person will understand. Maybe you can even sandwich it between genuine praise and concern for the person’s perspective.

For example: “Sweetie, I appreciate your hard work in the yard this morning. Do you think you could put the tools away now? I know you don’t want all that stuff to get in the way or our neighbors seeing the pretty yard when they come home from work.”

2. But don’t think in terms of a formula: If I say this and this, he will do that and that. Just be genuine and speak the truth in love, but remember, your “packaging” of the truth may look different from situation to situation.

Kassian said, “People communicate in different ways, and so sometimes that’s just a matter of understanding , or sometimes understanding someone’s communication pattern. . . .” **

It often helps to ask questions for greater understanding before sharing your “truth” statement; but be careful to be wise and loving even in asking questions.

“You want to be very careful not to use loaded questions,” Kassian said, “or questions where you’re not asking a question but you’re passing judgement.” **

3. Don’t manipulate. Again, check your heart first. Are you humble? What’s your purpose?

4. Be alert to times your family members practice compassionate candor and praise it.

5. Be encouraging every day. Be sure you are practicing approval, genuine praise and gratitude so family members will be more open to the interaction of more difficult conversations.

Think about how you speak the truth in your home. Would a bit more humility encourage compassionate candor?

* Humor adapted from CybersaltDigest, 4-8-13

** From “Using Your Words to Heal,” https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/using-your-words-heal/

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

In the Eye of the Beholder

26 Jun

Irving was just coming out of anesthesia after a series of tests in the hospital, and his wife, Sarah was sitting at his bedside.

His eyes fluttered open and he murmured, “You’re beautiful!”

Flattered, Sarah continued her vigil while Irving drifted back to sleep. Later, he woke up and said, “You’re cute.”

“What happened to ‘beautiful’?” Sarah asked.

“I guess the drugs must be wearing off, ” he replied. * LOL!

“Beauty,” it’s said, “is in the eye of the beholder.”

Sometimes we don’t recognize true beauty, especially our own. Our vision of ourselves is subjective and limited. We measure ourselves against model-like standards of “perfection.” We define beauty in such narrow terms. Who is to say a rose is more beautiful than a daisy? How can we compare a perfect day at the beach with a perfect day in the mountains? God’s creations are varied and unique, and to appreciate each one is to appreciate the Creator Himself.

One of the most beautiful women I ever met was partially blind and “ordinary-looking,” yet she glowed with an inner strength I desired as a young girl. I couldn’t get enough of sitting by her side, capturing her winsomeness and joy and learning from her vast store of wisdom.

The older I get, the more I understand that, though we are all “wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:12-14), no human is completely  beautiful this side of heaven. We all sin, and we are in varying stages of decay (slowly falling apart) until the day we die. In other words, we are all marred images until God transforms us (2 Corinthians 3:18). I think we’ll be surprised, maybe even shocked, by our beauty in Christ in heaven.

All true, lasting beauty comes from God. “Beauty is fleeting,” the scriptures say, “but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).  Beauty includes character, gifts, purpose, faith and so much more than mere appearance.

The Christian knows there is more. When the Father sees the believer, He sees His Son (Colossians 3:3-4; Romans 8:1; 1 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 2:13) –  and Jesus is beautiful. In Christ, Father God declares us chosen and special (1 Peter 2:9), loved (1 John 3:1), blessed (Ephesians 1:3), free (John 8:36) and more!

The Christian’s desire is to reflect Christ both now and in eternity, and this desire will be answered “in the eye of the beholder.”

We will behold Christ and we will be changed!

The Word of God says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). In that day, we we will be perfect and beautiful – just as the Creator intended.

Do you know your beauty in Christ? (If not, here is a perfect “mirror” for you to behold yourself.)

* From Cyberslalt.org, “Surgical Beauty.”

– Dawn

Sweeter Than a Candy Heart

14 Feb

I saw some strange Valentine’s Day messages on little candy hearts . . . who would want these messages?

  • Let’s go to therapy
  • You’ll doCandyValentineHearts
  • Desper8
  • Midlife Crisis
  • Yes Dear
  • Only U (for now)
  • U looked better on Facebook
  • Aging Poorly
  • Strike Three
  • Mommy Issues
  • Maxed Out Credit Card
  • Kissed a Frog
  • Infin8 Agony
  • UR Dog Is Cuter

These are NOT the messages we want or need.

We want to know we are cherished and cared for . . . we are deeply loved. We want to know we matter to someone ~ that we belong. We want to know we are understood. We want to know we make a difference and we have purpose. We want someone who isn’t afraid to tell us the truth.

And though we may read these kinds of positive messages on little candy hearts or in Valentine’s Day cards, we want to hear it from someone with skin on, don’t we?  Certainly it’s wonderful to hear it from an earthly friend or loved one . . . but notice with me what the Bible says of Jesus in relation to the Child of God:

JesusCandyHeartJesus loves us so much, He died for us (John 15:13; Romans 5:8).

We belong to Him (Galatians 5:24a).

He understands us and sympathizes with us (Hebrews 4:15).

In Him, we have purpose (Ephesians 1:11; Matthew 28:19; John 15:16).

Jesus IS the Truth, and we can always count on His wisdom (John 14:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30).

He is all of this and more to us.

On this day, Valentine’s Day, when so many exchange chocolates and little candy hearts, let’s take a moment to remember what is sweet and precious:

“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.”  –  John 15:13   SWEET!

– Dawn

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