Whether I like it or not, unconditional love includes honesty. I began this string of posts exploring God’s honest “lover’s complaints” against Israel by describing a scene from my own life (see the post “Love and Honesty”) when I wanted to walk out on a friendship simply because my friend expressed some honest complaints about my poor behavior. The day I sat in that coffee-shop hearing my friend be brutally honest with me was not (as I stupidly thought) the evidence that this guy really wasn’t my friend. No. My friend’s honesty was actually the best evidence I had that this was a loyal friend who cared so much about me, and desired so deeply to be friends with me for the long haul, that he told me his honest assessment of where he thought we stood as friends. He told me what he told me because he didn’t want to settle for what currently existed between us. He told me what he told me because he wanted to move past the relationship we currently enjoyed to the fullness of an even better friendship.
Thankfully, God helped me get over myself, listen to his hard words, take them to heart, and make some changes. My friend’s brutal honesty, which came from a heart of loyalty and love, helped me grow up in some ways I needed to grow up. I think that confrontation was the first time I really understood that naked honesty is an important part of being loved relentlessly. It’s important because it is the doorway to greater intimacy, greater trust, and even greater friendship than we ever had before the tough-love conversation. In the same way, when God, moved by relentless love, speaks into our lives, we need to get over ourselves and listen.