Keskiviikko 19.9.2018
Minulle elämä on Kristus ja kuolema on voitto. Fil. 1:21

Blog: So true

in English 1.8.2016 19:50 | Päivämies-verkkolehti
Thinking back to the past spring I remember a walk with a friend along a lake shore. There was a thin layer of ice at the shoreline, and we poked holes in it with sticks.
It seemed that a layer of ice had also formed between us. To break that ice, we had to be almost ruthlessly honest.

Neither of us felt good about it then, but afterwards we did. We understood each other’s motives better. We understood that there is not always a single correct way of acting.

We also wondered if it would have been more merciful not to speak out everything. So as to spare the other person.

Honesty can be painful. I recognize in myself the quick reactions of Peter the disciple: I speak before I have had time to think. Sometimes what I say is not exactly honest. I just blurt out things impulsively. More often I am honest, even too much so.

The concept of ’honesty’ is not really an absolute value. If it were, we could use it to offend or discriminate. To avoid misuse of ‘honesty’, I have been training myself to ask these three questions before I speak: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

Actually, we seldom speak out the most honest, necessary, and kind thought: You have walked into my heart. I have learnt a lot from you. I wish you all the best.

It is not always easy to know what is true. When things and thoughts seem a tangled mess, it may be most honest to say: I do not know.

In the spiritual sense, it might be better to talk about ‘truthfulness’ rather than ‘honesty’. The relationship between man and God is without deceit; man can deceive himself but not God. And prayer is a humble and true appeal to God.

Faith guides us to be truthful even in human relationships. Apostle John in his letter instructs believers to love each other “not with words and speech but with actions and in truth”. (1 John 3:18) Based on this instruction, it is an expression of love to approach a person whose choices in life cause us concern.

Truth is contained in the law of God. But mercy comes before the law. Mercy is greater than the law and it is also completely true. The complete truth is present when I find the strength to reveal to someone my distress and concern of what may happen to me. And I can then hear such perfectly truthful and merciful words of comfort that I cannot understand they full significance: this is true also for you, there is full atonement.


While writing this blog post, I feel the familiar worry about my ability to write truthfully. It is easy to stray toward smoothing over the rough and ragged aspects of life. And sheer ignorance may cause us to bypass things and to make untruthful generalizations.

There is also the risk of being too critical or destructive about matters that cannot be fully grasped with our human understanding. This is a risk because truth without mercy is hurtful. 

I think that honesty balanced with mercy is the most constructive kind of honesty. This was how we felt while walking along the icy shoreline. The painful truths blotted out part of the grudge but were not alone sufficient. We also needed mercy. And reconciliation. At the darkest time of the spring I saw light in the other person’s eyes.

Lotta Laitinen
Translation: S.-L. Leinonen

The blog post was published in Finnish in online Päivämies on 15 May 2015.

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