Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

Auntie Em’s Guide to Life- Be Honest

on August 27, 2012

If you’ve read Auntie Em’s Guide to Life, you know that the #1 rule is to BE HONEST. Honest with yourself- honest with others. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but so many people don’t follow this rule, and the results can be disastrous. Here’s what the Guide to Life says about being honest.

Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things. Who can understand it?” Surely everyone knows your life will be easier if you are honest with other people. (Who can remember what they told to whom? Not me!) The trick is to be honest with yourself. People were fooling themselves back in Jeremiah’s day and we are still doing it. Have you seen women of a certain age wearing Spandex when they shouldn’t? Singers on American Idol who thought they were good? What about teachers who make a big to-do list at the beginning of summer, and when school starts, it’s still undone? (OUCH!) Deceiving ourselves can go from the frivolous (like Spandex or size 6) to much more important issues, like our weight’s effect on our health, or addictions, or bad relationships. Once you uncover your warts– a painful process– you can deal with them honestly. You might decide to still eat the brownies. But you’ll do it with open eyes.

Some really smart people agree with me, though there were a surprising number of quotes talking about honesty being a bad thing  when I googled “quotes about honesty”! I’m putting all the quotes at the bottom in case you are in a hurry!

Disclaimer: I’m not talking about the kind of no-filter, whatever-you-think-is-what-comes-out-of-your-mouth honesty. (“I just say what I think. I’m just being honest!” You’re just being a loud-mouthed buttinsky that hurts more than helps. Zip it.)

I think most people would agree that chronic lying to stir up trouble is a bad thing, and wonder what would cause someone to do that? I personally know a woman who habitually told different lies to different family members, counting on them not to compare stories. When, after years of dysfunction, they finally did, it was a huge hurtful mess which she couldn’t deal with. Surely this kind of dishonesty is uncommon. But I’ve seen a less obvious, more insidious kind.

I bet if you ask, most people will tell you that they are honest. What I’ve experienced, though, is that when people cross certain lines- economic, social, positional, etc.- then lies don’t seem to count. Good, reliable students have been known to lie to teachers and administrators. (“My last period teacher held me after class.”) Practicing Christians who say they live godly lives lie to policemen. (“I didn’t see the sign!”) Parents lie to their children’s teachers. (“We don’t allow that kind of behavior or language at home!”)

The problem is that it’s all still lying. Even if you take the spiritual aspect away, the moral problem is still there. (I don’t really think you can have moral issues apart from spiritual ones, but that’s another story!) When your kids see you return something you wore once and you tell the clerk it didn’t fit, they hear the lie. And then when you tell them not to lie to you, they don’t get it. When there is a disconnect from what we believe is right and what we actually do, there is an uncomfortable dissonance in our souls, and it’s a big cause of mental and emotional stress.

Right here in Presidential election season, dishonesty is hitting a high point. (low point?) I have really gotten to the point where I take EVERYTHING that ANY politician says with a grain of salt. You know Mark Twain said there are “Lies, damn lies, and statistics” — I know they can skew any poll to reflect what they want it to; phrase a question in a way guaranteed to get the answer they are looking for; and take just about any comment out of context to make the other candidate look like a villian. And we (and our children) watch it all, at the highest levels, then wonder what happened to honesty and integrity.

So for this week, Auntie Em invites you to do some listening and some thinking. Listen for honesty, and for dishonesty. Is it lying outright, or is it a little worm of a lie adulterating the truth? You know that’s how Satan works. (If you are into politics and haven’t seen the Tampa Bay Times’ Truth-o-meter, you need to go there now. Most statements are “Half- and mostly- true”; only a few are “pants on fire” lies.)

And the big challenge of the week: Listen to yourself. Hear what you say to others, and dear sisters and brothers, listen to what you say to yourself. Sometimes the lies we tell ourselves are the cruelest of all.

If I haven’t convinced you that BE HONEST is the best advice you’ll get, just listen to these guys!

Sigmund Freud: Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.

Ben Franklin: Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest.
George Washington: I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.
John Wooden: Be prepared and be honest.

Frederick Douglass: The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.
Robert E. Lee: The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy.

(I found these quotes at

And Scripture is full of “honest” wisdom:

Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

Proverbs 6: 16-20 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty
eyes,a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,a heart that devises wicked
schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out
lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Proverbs 12:22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

1Cor 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is
excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

(Thanks to for the references.)


12 responses to “Auntie Em’s Guide to Life- Be Honest

  1. Great reminder! Love the quotes. 🙂

  2. Sunshine says:

    Put everything through the 4:8 filter- love that!!

  3. eviejowilson says:

    In my younger days I tried to lie about a few things but it always gave me a headache. Thank God that it just didn’t work for me. (haha) I read a quote at the beginning of the week, can’t remember whose but it really stuck with me. “If you’re honest you don’t ever have to remember anything”!

  4. […] Be honest: You need to know how much sleep, and downtime, you need. Sometimes we think as long as we’re home in time to get to bed at a normal time, we’ll be okay. And maybe you will, but not me. I need a good deal of “down time”– at home, quiet, on the back porch or the couch reading, watching TV, or visiting with my husband– to recharge me from everyday life, much less the increased pressure of the holiday season. Figure out what you need to recharge and how much of it. Schedule it. Know your limits: If I have commitments 2 nights in a row I’m about comatose by noon the 3rd day. […]

  5. Great piece, Melinda! I’m glad you made the distinction between being honest and “brutally frank.” I used to work in an office with a girl who started many a sentence with, “Well, to be brutally frank,” and she was. Brutally Frank could have been her nickname. 🙂

  6. […] spread out over 60-80 hours. And is it worth it to you? Only you can decide. But again– be honest. Count the whole cost (not just in terms of money) to your marriage, children, your health, […]

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