Honest People Scare Me (And I Think I’m Starting To Like It)

- - Life With God

honest image

Honest people scare me.

Maybe it’s because I believe that famous Jack Nicholson line from A Few Good Men, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”

Or maybe it’s because I’m a control freak and allowing someone to say what they really think is handing over the controls to them. And who knows what they might say? Scary!

Speaking of honest people, children can be brutally honest. Recently, my niece looked out the back windows of our house and said, “You guys don’t have a very nice view, do you?”

She’s right about the view. And she scares me because I don’t know what she’s going to say next.

Sometimes I wonder about Simon Cowell. I wonder if his friends and family have gotten used to him saying whatever is on his mind. I wonder if he’s a nightmare to serve at a restaurant. I wonder if he’s as no holds barred honest with himself as he is with every one else.

I have this friend, let’s just call him “Shaun,” who is extremely honest. Like, I know whenever I ask him a question, he’s always going to tell me what he really thinks. Sometimes he’ll even apologize after giving me an answer and say, “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.” The thing is, Shaun makes me nervous with his honesty, and I think I’m starting to like it.

I know I get a real answer from him. He doesn’t sugar coat or finesse his words. They just come out, and they are honest. I actually appreciate it.

Maybe we need more truth tellers. Not so much insult-laden critiques, but simple honesty. The humble kind.

The real power of honesty is when it reveals what is true in us. In other words, honesty is at it’s best when we’re telling the truth about OURSELVES. That kind of honesty is scary for most of us.

It’s easier to be honest by exposing what’s wrong with someone else. And although it might be true, it usually lacks any restorative power. Instead, it just stings.

At the end of a meeting a few weeks ago, one of my staff members broke from the agenda and said, “Um, I have something I need to share…”

There was a nervous tension in the air. You could tell they were going to say something honest – not scripted or finessed, but real and from the heart.

The individual went on to share something difficult that she’s facing and asked us to be praying for her and her family. We stopped everything and prayed. Those few moments were the best of our entire meeting. They were unplanned, unscripted, unrehearsed – and they were honest, genuine, real, and restorative.

Was I scared when she spoke up? Yeah, a little. But I’m so glad she did.

I realize that honest people scare me, and I think I’m starting to like it.

We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes… Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display.

—2 Corinthians 4.2 MSG

This is part 1 of 3 posts this week. Come back tomorrow for “I Want To Be Honest, But Not Really,” and on Thursday for “The Honesty And B.S. Graph.”

I’d really like to hear from you on this subject…

In your experience, when does honesty seem to just sting and when is it restorative?




I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

8 Comments to Honest People Scare Me (And I Think I’m Starting To Like It)

  1. Honest when you say something that can hurt others feelings is never forgotten. It stings, it’s critical- and for some reason I will remember that. But honest about who you are, the struggles you face- the areas you’re not perfect- they are gifts to me. Because now I’m safe to be around you. You’re like me. I’m like you. Yeah! It’s not a perfection-club thing we’ve got going- but real people- loving each other and unconditionally committed to being there for each other.

  2. Hi Brian,

    I loved this post. I knew as soon as I saw the word HONEST on Facebook I had to read it.

    For me, I lived the first half of my life not being honest. Too afraid to say what I feel, too afraid to hurt others by being honest, not telling friends the truth when asked an important meaningful question. Plus, I’ve never been a good liar. Even as a kid, my mom always knew when I was lying. I was raised well, I just got lazy in my adult life or perhaps complacent.

    In sobriety now, my accountability to God and my sponsor, has naturally forced me to be honest. I’ve come to terms with those little fibs we tell our boss, or coworker, or even our children to avoid the truth. I was recently let go in a business partnership because of my honesty and I’m SOOOOO okay with that. I’m to brutally honest now but never intending to hurt. I just try to do the right thing. Living in truth. It’s probably easier for some folks, but I sure enjoy a better night’s sleep, an open and honest and trusting relationship with God and my sponsor, and I now try to be an example of truth.

    Like your staff member, it’s uber hard and even impossible for me to ask for help, or a prayer. Blessings to her for her courage and prayers to her and her family during this time.

    Thanks for writing such honest thoughts! Looking forward to the other two posts.


    • Brian Dolleman

      Thank you Lexi for sharing! I love the honesty that 12-step programs bring about… just showing up, it’s understood “I have a problem and I need help.” Being honest, not hiding or covering anymore, is the place where healing and wholeness comes.

  3. Honesty can hurt. “Don’t stand like that you look like a pregnant kangaroo,” or “When you cook tofu it’s butt nasty.” The truth though is that I would rather have little indiscretions of insulting comments, so it can make room for the, “Mom I did something really dumb,” or the, “I love it when you do x,y,z.” Because the later comments from a place of established sincerity. We are all overly quirky creatures and rub each other the wrong way regularly. But it is this sand paper that allows us to extend grace and get over it quickly. Besides over thinking everything you say ALL the time is uptight and quite maddening…

    Teenagers have taught me about the double sided coin of honesty vs sneakiness.

    • Brian Dolleman

      I agree with you Elise on putting up with “little indiscretions of insulting comments” so that we are known as safe people to be honest with.

  4. Chris Bohannon

    Both the restorative and stinging honesty happen alot in my life and sadly I’m alot like the guy that you described! The stinging kind of honesty comes in when I usually speak about past suicide attempts but even more so when I speak about who saved me during those times. The first time I tried to commit suicide an angel stopped me and the next day I saw her standing in my living room when I opened the door. I know she was from heaven because she was glowing with white light and I was completely frozen. She gave me what I was looking for – emotions. I had never felt happiness or joy or even pain until after I met her. The worst stinging pain for a christian is to hear the brutal honesty that I would have done exactly the same thing Jesus did for us if it had been my own burden. If I could save everyone in the world or even one person I would have willingly been beaten, forced to carry a cross to my death bed, and nailed to it until I passed away. I know what hell is like and that’s why I would never want anyone to ever go there, I would rather take their place than let it happen. When Christians hear that, there is an awkward dead silence and I wonder if they really do believe that Jesus already did that for them. But when my honesty about seeing God and his son face to face comes up… People literally dash the subject and completely ignore it. As a Christian having had that experience I would think that they would WANT to hear it. No matter how many times I’ve denied Him since then KNOWING full well that I had seen Him and spoken to Him.. HONESTLY I have to admit that I’ve probably acted the same way as them at times. They probably think that I either have a mental condition or that I’m the biggest liar that ever walked the earth. For a while (being an atheist off an on for many years) fought it because I didn’t want to believe what happened that night. I saw my whole life and felt feelings I hadn’t had in many years all in only an instant. Scary thing was… I saw a glimpse of my own birth and saw things that I don’t remember. All of what I’m saying is a scary stinging kind of honesty but I hope it’s restorative for other people who read this.

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