He stared at me. He leaned across the table towards me and asked, “Are you saying she is prejudiced?”
I was caught off-guard by my brother’s frank question. I hesitated. I needed a moment to think about it.
We had just been discussing that while there is an assumption that family members have comparable experiences, in reality each has very disparate experiences. Which in turns contributes to very unique and distinct stories being written for each person, even within the same family.
I had just been sharing an example to clarify my point. It focused on how over the years a family member had treated his in-laws and my in-laws very differently.
I pointed out how his in-laws had been welcomed, which contrasted with how my in-laws, who had immigrated to Canada from Italy when my husband was a year old, had been excluded.
His in-laws had regular invites to dinners, activities, and events. Together they celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. Christmas cards were exchanged.
Yet, for my in-laws, there was a history of different experiences. There were no invitations to dinners or events celebrated. Christmas cards or correspondences were never exchanged.
I provided this example only as way to encourage a greater appreciation and sensitivity around the different realities that we all had experienced over the years.
At this point, he posed his question. It was unsettling because it re-directed the discussion away from the point I had been making, towards having me identify an underlying reason for the different ways our in-laws had been treated.
I chose to respond with a partial truth, and simply repeated that I had merely been trying to point out how dissimilar many of our experiences were, and how that had created different influences and pressures for each of us.
Preferring to keep the peace, I avoided facing and speaking the whole truth.
Similar to many families, it is not always safe to speak the truth in our extended family. Truth telling often results in pushback, denials, anger, criticism, deflections, and arguments. It can also result in alliances forming that have the power to divide us.
Yet, I know that as a believer I am called to the higher standards of integrity and truth.
Where, “speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15, NIV)
For it is only when we shine light into the darkness, coming face to face with truth, that we have the opportunity to learn, change and grow.
I yearn to live out truth in every circumstance, and like the psalmist cry out,
“Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11)
So that I no longer fear how others may respond to my sincerity and honesty. My ultimate priority is to live in ways that consistently reflect my faith. And that provide the best opportunities for me, and others, to be transformed.
Today, if I could have a do-over, and go back to that conversation around the dinner table, I would give a different answer. Speaking truth, in love and grace.
For an index of all my posts in the series, please click here.
Photo credits: Daiga Eliaby, Aaron Burden, from Unsplash