Being truthful has a broader meaning than being just right or correct. Truth includes not just objective facts but people too. And being aware of that nuance can give us great peace in our relationships.

For example, when baking cookies, the temperature at which the oven should be set is a fact given in the recipe. If one of my teenagers hopes to speed up the baking time by setting the oven at a higher temperature and then burns the cookies, I would be right in saying, “Setting the temperature that high was wrong! If you had only followed the directions, the smoke detector would have never woken up the baby from her nap!”

H BRATTON BURNED COOKIES 3 Copyright 2016 Heidi Bratton. All rights reserved.

But if the same thing happened, a truthful (and graceful) response would sound more like this: “Oh, boy that’s a lot of smoke! The oven temperature was way too high, but don’t worry, I’ve made that mistake before too. You go grab your sister from her crib, and I’ll put the cookie sheet outside."

Did you hear how that worked? What was right about the oven temperature and even about the negative consequences of burned cookies and a screaming baby were not compromised. The truth that my teen was not the only one who had ever tried to hasten a chore by breaking a rule was brought into the situation immediately, however, and it made all the difference. Being truthful accounts for the flawed human beings involved in any situation.

Of course, this is much more difficult when we are talking about politics or the hot-button topics of the day. And yet the same rules apply. We are never just dealing with sets of rights and wrongs. We are also always dealing with people, and so when we are in a dialogue about an issue whether in person or online, we should always strive to keep in mind the person over the mere facts of the matter.

Copyright 2016 Heidi Bratton. Used with permission from Finding God’s Peace in Everyday Challenges by Heidi Bratton with Word Among Us Press.