MY father-in-law has a spiritual gift that involves speaking the truth in humour. He’s been such a good exponent of it over the years that it’s proven instructive.
One thing I’ve heard him say frequently — one example of his speaking the truth in humour — at times when I’ve had an opinion that might be judgmental, is, “Yes, that agrees with my prejudices, too.” In other words, he communicates two important things: 1) that he agrees with me, but that 2) it isn’t all there is to account for. And the truth implicit in his communication has genius because humour is a foil that allows truth space without it appearing as a sneer.
Speaking the truth in humour isn’t a gift that can be used always, however; only sometimes. Not when people are suffering, for instance. At times like this, truth hardly has a place if it’s said in jest. The only time truth is prized in grief is when the truth is etched with, and said in the grain of, compassion. And humour often won’t work if there’s insufficient relationship between protagonists.
Speaking the truth in humour is a relational wisdom that communicates a strong message without being confrontational or brusque. It’s particularly useful if we know people will perceive the truth veiled enigmatically. And doubly purposeful if we know people will appreciate the creative way the truth comes across. Indeed, the creativity of speaking the truth in humour is its genius.
Speak the truth in humour so potential offense is turned into an absurd grace that paves the way to change.
Speak the truth in humour, but resolve to get it right. And we will only get it right when our hearts are right about why we wish to communicate truth.
Speaking the truth in humour can be one sure way of speaking the truth in love.