Honesty. Authenticity. Being fully known. These aren’t just buzzwords; they are some of the core pillars of what it means to live in Christian community. We are to live in the light (1 John 1:7), confess to each other (James 5:16), care for each other (Galatians 6:10) and reconcile to each other (Matthew 5:23-24).
To do so, we must be willing to fully share what is going on in our hearts and lives. However, due to either selfishness or fear, we often want to hold something back. We’re comfortable sharing most things—say, 98 percent—and we pat ourselves on the back for being so open and honest. However, that tiny bit we neglect to share is actually the biggest thing: it is the information that would truly make us known, get to the root of the issue at hand, or require real change in our lives.
What Is the Last 2%?
That stuff you hold back and hide is what we often refer to at Watermark as “the last 2 percent.” It’s whatever is left after the 98 percent that you are willing to share.
The last 2 percent could be anything, depending on the person or even the day. It might be:
- The hidden sin that you don’t want to confess to community (after confessing all of your other, more respectable sins).
- The not-so-secret sin or blind spot that you see in a fellow believer’s behavior, but which you don’t want to bring up because of the uncomfortable conversation that would follow.
- A fundamental disagreement you have with your spouse that you avoid talking about because you don’t like conflict.
- A past hurt that you haven’t healed from because you haven’t sought help, fearful of what the process will be like or what other people will think of you if they knew.
- Something negative that you’re willing to say about someone, but not to them.
- What you say to your spouse or best friend in the car ride home after community group.
- A question you wish you had asked.
- A comment you wish you had made.
- Any secret that you think you’ll take to your grave.
Or any other number of things. Whatever you are too prideful to admit or too fearful to say, that is your last 2 percent.
Why Share the Last 2%?
We don’t want to share the last 2 percent because we believe it will be too costly; that the risks outweigh the rewards, and we will end up regretting our honesty.
However, sharing the truth is never the wrong thing to do, whereas not telling the truth means you are essentially living a lie. It is clear throughout Scripture that God’s ideal is for us to live together authentically: that we would be free (John 8:36), not hiding secrets (Luke 8:17) or living in fear (2 Timothy 1:7), but rather speaking the truth to each other in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Although it may feel risky, there are many reasons why we should share the last 2 percent:
- It allows healing to begin (James 5:14-16).
- It kills bitterness and resentment by actually dealing with and resolving conflict (Matthew 18:15).
- It eliminates gossip (Proverbs 26:20).
- It can help save others from the consequences of sin (James 5:19-20).
- It is one of the ways we sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17).
- It is an exercise of faith, demonstrating the freedom we have from fear of condemnation (Romans 8:1-2).
- It is the only way to truly love and be loved for who you are (1 Peter 1:22).
Responding to Someone Else’s 2%
Remember that God already knows all about your 2 percent, and He loves you just the same (Psalm 139). We are called to love each other in the same way (1 John 4:7-12).
So, when someone else shares their last 2 percent with you, you should respond with compassion, grace, and/or repentance. Make it easier for people to be fully open and honest by welcoming admonishment (Psalm 141:5) and freely extending forgiveness (Luke 17:3-4). Do your part by owning whatever role you may have played in a conflict and examining your own heart for anything you need to share.
100% Worth It
By its nature, sharing the last 2 percent is going to be scary and uncomfortable at first. It will probably seem like the hard way of doing things, while remaining silent and hiding the truth might appear to be the easy way out.
However, there is no easy way out. In the long run, that unspoken 2 percent will catch up to you. Maybe you won’t get caught, and it’s possible your secret will never be found. But you won’t have peace. You won’t resolve the bitterness of hidden conflict. You won’t be truly known or accepted by others, and you won’t be fully loving towards those you love.
On the other hand, the more you do share your 2 percent, the easier and more natural it will become. You will get the chance to experience oneness with your spouse and authentic acceptance from your community. We’re not promising smooth sailing, because relationships are messy and there will always be troubles in this life (John 16:33). People will sometimes not respond the way you’d like them to. But you can rest easier knowing that you’ve been faithful to fully do your part—not just the easy 98 percent.