Getting Honest With Me

Originally published Friday, 28 June 2013.

{photo credit Flickr}


It’s the main thing that people tell me when I teach. I’ll be teaching and trying so hard to lay out the truth that I find in scripture, and I spend hours and hours finding the right words, and then I get caught up in the moment, and I illustrate my point with something from my own life, about eighty percent of the time with some part of me I regret showing.

And then people don’t tell me I am insightful or polished or wonderful or horrible. They tell me I’m honest.

And I’m glad for that, although they way they say it, with a tinge of surprise in their voice, makes me sad. Because what I read into that tinge of surprise is that they aren’t used to people being honest, or more specifically, women being honest. Maybe I have said just enough to make a connection, something they want to acknowledge but have a hard time saying so. Feelings of being inadequate, or feelings of pride, or how they changed three times before coming to the luncheon or the ladies’ night or the bible study because they were insecure. Those are the things I find myself saying.

But really? I don’t feel that honest. I want to be honest most of the time. But honest isn’t just a feeling, and honest isn’t an easy thing or a static thing, like one day I was honest about myself and then I never had to do that again.

Honest is like an ocean. I can stand on the edge of the ocean, with the waves lapping my toes, and I can be “in the ocean.” But the ocean extends beyond my toes and beyond my line of sight, it is vast and expansive and deep and mysterious. And our souls are like that too. Our inner parts are. To plumb those depths, to get a true look at them, is a long and arduous work, not unlike, I suppose, swimming in the ocean in the dark.

Last night I shared a long dinner with a friend I hold close to my heart. And we talked and talked and then we cried. Honest truths are usually accompanied by tears, at least for me. Honesty is found in still places and it’s expressed in safe places. When I am with this friend I feel still and I feel safe. And I find myself venturing into the deeper places. Going alone to those places feels confusing and dark. But my friend is like a flashlight, a steady beam into the black. And she sees things that I don’t see.

Maybe that’s how God made it. Maybe he designed it into the fabric of us, that our perspective on ourselves would always be a little off, like a lazy eye, wandering, out-of-focus, slightly skewed. Maybe he designed it so that only in the solitude we find in strange places, like when we wake up at 2:42AM, or we sit alone in our car, or we gaze up at the stars, we find our minds wandering deeper into that ocean of truth.

Maybe he meant for it to be in the safety of love that we can express the less desireable parts of our souls, the parts that feel bruised or mangled, the parts that need the healing touch. We venture out in the presence of a friend and wonder, “will you still love me? Will I be ok?”

True friends meet us in that place.

They allow faltering words to tumble forth, words spoken that tell us the truth about ourselves. They give us the grace to feel sorrow or regret or disappointment, or hope or longing or excitement. They allow us to share our dreams, not the censored versions, but the real stuff, the real hurts, the irrational fears, the whispered lies, the faltering hopes. Real friends shine the light of love and truth. They correct our skewed vision and they hold our hurts with us, gently cradling the fragile parts. Good friends make honesty less scary. Honesty is the key that unlocks the door to freedom, perhaps the door that leads to the kingdom of heaven, the deep and mysterious dwelling place of Christ within us. We seek that door in so many ways, but we only find it by moving toward the truth. Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Frail. Faltering. But free.

Dinner ended and we exchanged more words and tight hugs, but the truth remained, exposed and clear like the clarity of an autumn night. And I closed my eyes in sleep and found that the stillness was a welcome place, and the deep didn’t feel as quite as dark anymore…

Nicole Unice is the author of She's Got Issuesand blogs at www.nicoleunice.comPart Bible teacher, part community organizer, part busy mom, Nicole has the uncanny ability to relate to people in all ages and stages of life with her “keeping it real” approach to ordering a life around God’s word. Nicole received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the College of William and Mary and her masters in Christian Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. You can also learn more about Nicole at