Say What You Mean (But Don’t Say It Mean)


I just tell it like it is. (I’m rude. I don’t care enough to think about your feelings before opening my mouth)

I have to be true to myself. (I’ll do what I want and stuff the consequences)

It’s just the way I am. (It suits me to be like this.  I don’t want to change and therefore I “can’t.”)

Can I be honest with you? (Let’s drop the pretence of being nice)

With all due respect, (which is none..)

I’m someone who cares too much, (I need to be needed.)

I’ve a few minor changes, (IT’S RUBBISH)

I guess we all have our own truth (I’m scared to disagree/can’t be bothered thinking it through)

You are who you choose to be. (Ive gotten lucky in life and I want to notch it up to my efforts)

I have to follow my heart. (I have to follow me, and so does everyone else)

I’m not one to judge but… (here’s a judgement).


These are often my words.  Underpinning them is selfishness and fear – but on top there’s a smooth verbal icing. I say them, not to build others up, but to bolster myself, to criticise or to hide. They seem mild, but they do a lot of damage.

This is the exact opposite of what Jesus does in the Gospels. He tells it straight:

“Go call your husband”

“Why do you call me good?”

“You know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”

And yet, He’s also loving and gentle:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

“The very hairs of your head are numbered.”

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”

Jesus is filled with both grace and truth.  He’s not afraid of men, and He doesn’t sugar-coat. But He speaks out of overflowing love and concern for His listeners.

When I speak, it’s often rocks wrapped in sweet paper.With Jesus, it’s truth-telling that cuts to the core – but underneath, the everlasting arms. It’s truth that exposes and grace that heals.

But maybe that’s where I need a taste of His medicine. I’m the kind of person who uses words to cover ugly realities, but Jesus calls me on it. He really does tell it like it is, but that truth-telling doesn’t come from His need to be right, it comes from His heart for our change. Behind the words of truth is a grace that takes Him to the cross. And there He dies for me – not the marzipan me I use to cover the ugliness. No, He dies for the angry, manipulative, cowardly me. The me I don’t even admit to being. This is where He meets me, with grace and with truth. And this is what frees me from the need to hide, pretend and judge.

Having had a taste of His medicine, I can serve it up to others. I can speak the truth, in love (Eph 4:15).


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1 thought on “Say What You Mean (But Don’t Say It Mean)

  1. Lovely Emma

    I so admire the truth and humility in your post.
    We all use those dreadful dishes to serve up our observations at times… I wince as I hear my voice speak those words…
    I often quote “speak the truth in love” as an answer to the ” how do I tell…” question, but fail to do it myself so much.

    Hope you are okay



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