We would probably all agree that it is important to be honest, but what about those secret issues we struggle with? Those things we hope that no one will find out about because we would be mortified if we had to admit them?
Alternatively, perhaps you are just struggling a bit with life. Overworked, feeling under the weather and simply finding it all a lot of hard work. But, on the outside, you do your best to give the appearance of having everything together.
Aren't you tired of those times when you feel you need to keep up appearances? Don't you long for someone close enough to you that you can let your guard down, and be honest about all your fears, struggles, disappointments with – as well as having someone who will come alongside you and really celebrate the positives in your life?
I know it is inappropriate to bare all to everyone, but here's why I think it is important for us to have those close friends who we can be totally honest with:
The Bible says that: "Two are better than one... If either of them falls down, one can help the other up" (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10). We all have times when we need someone else to help us – but sometimes it is hard to admit that. By cultivating close friendships we will have those around us who will notice when things aren't as they should be, and will hopefully ask how they can help.
Let's face it: life is tough. It is so much easier when there is someone on the sidelines cheering you on. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, recognises that: "From the smallest child to the oldest adult, when our fan club applauds us, we try harder." Having that encouragement gives us a boost. Frankly, just knowing there is someone beside me, cheering me on to be the best I can be, is a huge encouragement.
I love what The Message version of 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says: "So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind."
There are times in our lives when we need to be asked some tough questions. Perhaps we've struggled with an addiction and have given in to it yet again – or perhaps we've just got a bit lazy and aren't spending much time with God outside of church life. To have a friend who loves us enough to ask those questions, and who expects honest answers, really helps us to not stagnate.
Of course, it is important in such relationships to be willing to ask those hard questions back. The relationships also need to be cultivated – people earn the right to be able to speak into our lives, so it isn't just anyone that we can be this honest with.
We can't hide away
There are times when it all seems like too much; when we'd rather just shut the door on the day and crawl back under the duvet. I've been quite ill recently and trying to carry on despite the pain has been a real challenge. Last Sunday everything in me wanted to hide and yes, as I'm writing about honesty I will be honest here; I went to church more out of duty rather than anything else.
I wasn't looking forward to all the questions about what was wrong and whether I was better. And when you are ill, it can be really hard to cope with the calls for prayer for healing – especially if you do respond and feel nothing afterwards. But God was so gracious to me, and brought exactly the right person to pray with me (a GP who knew plenty about the pain I'm in, but who also seemed to have real insight into all the stresses and things I'm juggling currently – and who refused to give up praying). I certainly felt God's touch and the pain subsided massively as a result.
Just before I left church, the dear friend I have who asks me difficult questions, as well as spurs me on with her challenges and encouragement, spoke very plainly to me about not keeping quiet if I needed help during the week. She said she'd be on my case, and I'd be in severe trouble if she found out I hadn't said anything when I needed help. Having friends you know you can count on, whatever they are going through themselves, is such a blessing.