4 WAYS TO BE A BETTER TRUTH-TELLER: PART 2 By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

“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.

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HOW TO BECOME MORE APPROACHABLE THROUGH HUMILITY By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Without a doubt, Jesus was the most approachable person who ever walked the Earth. He was tuned into the people on the fringes–those who were most likely to be outcast and excluded. Jesus was shockingly accessible to everyone, including people who were considered “undesirables”.

He certainly wasn’t like the other “holy men” of his time. In fact, His accessibility made them livid. That’s because the rabbis and priests of Jesus’s time operated on principles of isolation and exclusion, holding everyone at arm’s length. In contrast, Jesus welcomed everyone with open arms.

The Greek word for approachable is parresia, which means plainspoken, easy-to-understand, or accessible. Synonyms for this word include friendly and open. So if we want to love like Jesus, we have to learn how to become approachable. And one of the most important ingredients to approachability is becoming humble.

LEAN INTO HUMILITY

To be humble is to make ourselves lowly. God meets us when we’re in a state of humility. It’s the antidote to pride, which poisons love. And it opens our eyes to the needs of others. Because when we can set our ego aside and stop believing ourselves to be superior to the people we encounter, we can become truly approachable.

BE INCLUSIVE AND WELCOMING

A prideful, snobbish person believes that human worth is tied to social status. And unfortunately, we’re all susceptible to believing ourselves superior to others from time to time. It’s all about being exclusive, only allowing yourself to interact with people you deem “worthy.”

In contrast, a humble person gets down off their high horse and makes themselves lowly. Jesus was the exemplary example of humility and, as a result, inclusivity. He opened His arms to “undesirable” people who were reviled by the rest of society–and if He ever excluded anyone, it was the holier-than-thou religious elites.

Being humble helps us to realize we’re not above the people we encounter in our daily lives. This changes our perspective–and our actions–when it comes to being more inclusive and welcoming to others.

BE NONJUDGMENTAL

The religious elites were scandalized when Jesus associated with sinners, tax collectors, and even prostitutes like Mary Magdalene, who transformed her former life to become a disciple of Christ. As the son of God, Jesus could have arguably been the most qualified judge to walk the Earth. But instead of judging others, Jesus loved them regardless of what sins they’d committed or laws they’d broken. He was outrageously approachable because that was the essence of His love.

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

Loving our enemies is loving without exclusion. It requires the ultimate humility.

It’s a given that, to love like Jesus did and be more approachable like He was, we have to snuff out pride and humble ourselves. However, Jesus takes it one radical step further: He commands us to love our enemies. And that, for (probably) most of us, is a hard pill to swallow.

“I tell you,” Jesus says, ‘love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you.”

Instead of getting even with our enemies, Jesus wants us to love them. He asks that we turn the other cheek when we’re hurt. And He even expects us to go above and beyond in our kindness to them. It’s not human nature, but it’s the nature of God. And with a generous dose of humility, it’s possible to show love to people who have caused us harm.

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HOW YOU CAN LOVE LIKE JESUS?

Love Like That takes a deep dive into the love of Jesus–and how we can love more like Him. Order your copy here!

How will you make yourself more approachable in the coming weeks? Months? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

SEXUAL EXPERIENCE BEFORE MARRIAGE: TALKING WITH YOUR FIANCE By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

It’s common for couples to come into marriage with some “baggage” they have to work through. Everyone’s baggage is different, but a situation many engaged couples face involves previous sexual experience. Whether that’s experience with your fiance or an ex, it can add extra emotional weight to your relationship.

It can be upsetting to know that one or both of you has sexual history from a previous relationship. If your fiance was in a relationship involving sexual intimacy, it can create self-doubt, anxiety, sadness, and regret.

Your sexual history (or your fiance’s) is something that will haunt your forever–but only if you let it. The good news is, the two of you can get past this together. Here’s how.

INVITE REASSURANCE

It’s normal to worry about how you’ll measure up to your fiance’s ex once you’re married. Remember not to dwell on the past; but occasionally, there will be times when you need to invite your future spouse’s reassurance. This isn’t about asking them to compare you to their ex. Rather, it’s asking to them to reassure you that you’re everything they need.

When you and your future spouse discuss past experiences, it’s important to approach the conversation with sensitivity. You could say something like, “I don’t want this to happen, but sometimes I feel insecure about your past relationship. I know you wouldn’t choose for me to feel this way, but it still bothers me sometimes.”

DITCH THE GUILT

When a person has past sexual experience with a person who wasn’t their spouse, those past memories are often accompanied by sadness, personal pain, and a sense of failure. While it’s normal to regret past decisions, the problem with regret is that it turns into guilt if it lingers. And if guilt lingers, it turns into shame.

Guilt and shame are some of the most destructive human emotions we can experience. They’re self-centered emotions that will continually pull you back into your past if you don’t let go of them. Being full of guilt or shame is like having a toothache; you can’t focus on anyone else’s needs until your own pain is resolved.

I (Les) wrote extensively about shame in my book, Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda. The main idea is that life is designed to live in the here and now–not the there and then. To let go of shame, you have to rid yourself of as much “shoulda, coulda, wouldas” as possible. That might involve prayer, talking, and journaling, but you can get to a place where guilt and shame are no longer contaminating your relationship.

CLEAR UP UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Clearing up any unfinished business around past sexual experience can help you let go of guilt and shame. Focus on asking this question: Who have I offended?

Ask for the forgiveness you need from God and your fiance. Make sure to forgive yourself, too. Setting your relationships right will go a long way toward helping you stop punishing yourself. No one should be a hostage to the past, so tie up loose ends and move forward.

CREATE A “CLEAN SLATE”

You know each other’s history and story. You’re preparing to promise lifelong love and intimacy to one another. You long to have this relationship with one another, regardless of the past–and you’re dreaming of the intimacy you’ll enjoy together in the near future.

Your relationship with your fiance has nothing to do with anyone else. This marriage will be yours and your alone–so it’s important to create a clean slate for yourselves going in. Remind yourselves that your marriage belongs to you will center you both when your focus starts to drift to the past.

How have you and your fiance (or now-spouse) spoken openly about–and moved on from–either of your past experiences? How did you leave the past in the past and move forward? We’d love to hear from you below.

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