Could She "Speak Truth" and Still Save the Friendship?
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
She was a dear young niece, and her aunt (a friend of mine) was troubled because she was about to marry a young man the aunt knew was not yet ready for marriage. Beverly (I'll call her) was a trusted friend of the young man as well, and she yearned to help him in this time of life-altering decision. She felt he was perhaps too self-centered to be taking on the responsibilities of a home and family so soon.
Should she tell her niece about her reservations? If she did, would the niece find it unforgivable? Could she speak the truth and still have the intimate relationship with her that she'd enjoyed through the years? Would the young man be angered that she'd intervened? Was it even her business, Beverly wondered guiltily, to interfere in the lives of these two young people she loved so much?
"Well, yes," she decided, "I must. I have a responsibility to them both. But I'll ask the Lord to help me know exactly what to say, and when to shut
up. I love these two kids too much to hurt them. God help me to speak the truth and still save our friendship!"
She did talk to each of them, separately. Nevertheless, they went ahead with their wedding plans. Undaunted, Beverly played the organ at the wedding and sent them on their way with a joyous recessional. And, of course, because she loved them, she prayed for them.
It turned out her misgivings were well-founded. The young man was immature. He found it hard to think unselfishly in order to keep the vows he'd made before God. But, since Beverly had been careful not to destroy the friendship while offering her advice, she was able to help them handle their conflicts. That friendship deepened through the years, and they thanked her again and again for "speaking the truth in love" when they really needed it.
Ephesians 4:14,15 says,
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro,
and carried about with every wind of doctrine,
by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness,
whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love,
may grow up into Christ in all things.
"Speaking truth" without love will sound like jangling, critical noise. Truth can't be heard above the dissonance.
But love that doesn't "speak the truth" isn't true love at all. It's a kind of self-love that craves to be "liked," rather than valuing the welfare of the one we say we love.
Not easily done, is it, to speak difficult truth but with so much love that a friendship is saved? Beverly would tell you that it is certainly worth the risk. The lives of two young people were forever blessed because she dared to speak the truth, with profound love.