J's grandpa is quite possibly the nicest man I've ever met. That's not the hyperbole I'm talking about, he really is *that* nice. At nearly 90 he insists that he needs to help with the dishes. He has a large plot of land where he grows fruit and vegetables and shares with everyone. The only price is that you have to pick it yourself. He made me feel so welcome, loved, and special that I would have loved him whether or not I was related to him.
A little while ago he came to visit and I made a pie. A pear pie. Grandpa had a slice at dinner. And he had another an hour later, commenting on how good it was. At first he complimented J's mom and she said, "I didn't make it, [Starfoxy] made it." "Oh," he said, and turned to me "This is really good pie!" The next day he came up to me and said "That pie you made was really good. I think it was the best pie I've ever had. Even better than Marie Calendars"
Aside from being bolstered by recognition of my pie making skillz, Grandpa made me think that maybe it really was the best he'd ever had. He's just that honest and nice of a person that I think he really may have meant it. He wouldn't say it if it weren't true. (Though I fully accept the very real possibility that he can't remember many of the pies he's eaten, and he may have really meant "This is the best pie I can remember eating.")
I got to thinking about hyperbole and honesty. J's grandpa is such an honest person that his saying "this is the best pie ever!" just feels true when he says it. If I heard him say things like that very often then it wouldn't feel as true. Perhaps to really solidify honesty in the eyes of those around us, we must refrain even from 'harmless' exaggeration. Especially in compliments that we give.
If you have (and must maintain) a reputation for honesty, then every statement you make will weigh more, and you are given less room for embellishment in anything you say. If you add hyperbole to your statements then people will take your hyperbole as truth. Every embellishment you continue to add detracts from your credibility.
In that vein I wonder about many of the statements made by the General Authorities and other church leaders. Words like, most, greatest, holiest, none other, and eternal pepper their talks and statements regularly. They make sweeping declarations from the pulpit of how much they love us *all.* How often is it hyperbole? How often is it really true? Do our day-to-day dealings with hyperbole from those around us lead us to give less credit to the fantastic-but-true things that our leaders are telling us?
The world may never, ever know.