What They Don’t Tell You
Have you ever wondered if people around you are telling you the truth? I’m not talking about those who tell you an “outright lie”. In case you didn’t know, an “outright lie” is bigger than a “white lie.”
That’s a joke. No e-mails please.
I’m not even referring to lies of omission, such as the refusal to speak one’s mind for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. No, I am thinking specifically of our overconfidence with subject matter and the decision on other people’s parts to remain silent.
For much of my life I shared personal family folklore with anyone who would listen. But eventually, some of my family members had the courage to say, “You know Larry, I don’t remember that.”
It is so sad when my family members mentally block out the events in our collective lives I know to be true.
Repression I guess.
I remember one of the first times I withheld the truth in this way. I am old enough to remember General Motor’s giant gamble on a subsidiary company named Saturn. Saturn used a new collaborative design methodology and the end result was a smashing success. However, as others began some of the same practices and Saturn sales declined, I started to notice Saturns were looking a lot like some of their GM counterparts. When I brought the subject up in a conversation one of my Saturn-loving friends refuted my claim. In fact, he vehemently denied GM ever had anything to do with Saturn.
I changed the subject and realized I had become one of “them”. One of the ones who decide telling you the truth isn’t worth the trouble.
I don’t think deciding to hold our tongue is necessarily a bad thing. James told us to be “slow to speak” so I guess sometimes this is the most godly thing we can do (James 1:19).
Yet, I have to wonder about all of the people out there who decide they aren’t going to tell you what they are thinking.
People like non-Christians.
They watch our double-standards, listen to our rants and put up with our worn out clichés. In the past some of them might have challenged us, but in doing so they have subjected themselves to self-righteous justifications, more rants, and Bible verses to support our clichés.
Meanwhile non-Christians stand confused by our tactics and entrenched in their stereotypes. How many times do they think it?
“It’s not worth the trouble.”
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting as believers we should shrink from the truth or water down the message of Christ. But sometimes I believe we are so busy thinking of the next thing to say we don’t think to ask others to tell us more about what’s on their mind.
Sometimes people just need to talk things out.
Other times people have real questions they are trying to answer.
One thing is for sure.
They have something on their mind.
Which is why I worry about what people don’t tell me.
I am not sure how to create a safe place in our relationships with non-Christians that gives them the courage to share what’s on their hearts and minds. Maybe we need to worry less about creating anything and more about loving people enough to listen. Don’t be afraid to listen. You might not like what you hear, and you might not know what to say.
In fact, I am inclined to think when we say nothing people are often more likely to reflect on their own words.
Ok, so you are afraid if we do this we will never tell people the truth?
That is what you were thinking isn’t it?
I KNEW IT!