Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another.” Ephesians 4:25b
She told me what I didn’t know. If you read Grits even occasionally you know that I was born special…the baby of eight. After seven tries Momma and Daddy got it right. Yes, it is and was a burden to bear but someone had to do it. I was so special my brothers and sisters called me “Precious” though I’m not sure it was a term of endearment or endangerment. Of course, all of that is written in jest but the bottom line is…I was the baby of the family and that made me special.
Even us special people don’t always get it right. In fact, truth be known, we might get it wrong more often than the rest. Sometimes that is a result of being just a little spoiled and sometimes it is just not knowing and one night, I found that out. My oldest brother Reggie and his wife Sonia played a big part in my growing up. Reggie is like sixteen years my senior and of course Sonia almost as many. In my growing up years they were one of the main reasons I managed to stay in church. They were regular attenders and would swing by the house and make sure I had a ride to church.
Because church was such a big part of my social world, I went all the time. All.The.Time. We had church three times a week and I was there. My favorite time to go to church, though, was Wednesday nights. We had this cool group of guys, led by two really cool older guys, and we had a great time learning about Jesus and stuff. But it was what happened after the Jesus time that topped it all—football. Our church had a large field out back and we would get together and play every Wednesday night after our class. And we played real football too…tackle.
Of course, this was North Florida and most times that meant it was hot so by the time we were done we were hot, sweaty, and well, stinky. The only problem was I didn’t have a clue. You see no one in the Taylor tribe had ever told me about the wonders of deodorant…Daddy didn’t, Momma didn’t, my sisters didn’t. So often, I was a stinky mess. It was just about then that my sister-in-law Sonia came to the rescue. I can remember it like it was yesterday. We were done at church, we had played football and I was, well, you know.
Reggie and Sonia had a two door Pontiac Lemans. That night Sonia was holding the door open and the seat back so I could crawl into the backseat and that is when it happened. When she got into the car and closed the door, she said, “Dewayne, has anyone ever told you about deodorant?” Well, I replied truthfully and replied, “No ma’am.” And, without explanation, she simply said, “Well, honey (everyone was “honey”), you need to wear some.”
Well, shoot that thing, no one ever told me about that. I knew about taking a bath and I probably knew about slapping on some smell good stuff, but I sure didn’t know I stunk and that there was something to help with that. Well, that changed everything. I guess I went home and found some deodorant and started wearing it. It probably made me just a little more popular with my friends…especially the girls. If she hadn’t told me the truth, I would probably be a single hermit living somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains or something.
You see, Sonia told me something I needed to know…and I’m glad she did. It probably wasn’t easy…though she was always telling Reggie how to drive. Smile. But since she knew the truth would set me free from a stinky situation…she cared enough to speak up. So, do you know someone that needs to hear a truth…even if it is hard? And, more importantly, are you willing to share that truth?
All of us have someone in our world that needs this but there is one thing that is key. In order to earn the right to share truth we need to have a relationship, a trust, with the person. Sonia’s hard truth did not offend me because I knew she loved me. Her truth wasn’t to embarrass, but to help and that made all the difference in the world. That’s what Paul, the New Testament writer meant when he said, “Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another.” Sincere truth speaking isn’t judgmental…it is helpful.
If you know someone who needs a little truth, think about it and then carefully and tactfully share with them. That is no guarantee that it will go well but at least you will know that you did your part. And if it does go wrong and you end up in bit of a storm, don’t worry, don’t be discouraged because, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne