We sometimes speak of people as having shown their true colors. Generally, we mean they proved what kind of person they really were or how they really felt about things. Most often, it denotes a personal flaw which had not been apparent before, such as cowardice, unfaithfulness, criminality, betrayal, greed, or just having a different viewpoint. It is usually a one-time thing, and based on that one incident we change our entire perception of that person — for the worse.
Let us look at someone from the Bible who showed his true colors or maybe not. St. Peter said to Christ, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death” (Luke 22: 33). However, only a little later, after Christ was arrested, Peter denied having ever known Christ (Luke 22: 54-62). I guess Peter showed his true colors, right? He was never really a disciple, never really loved Christ, and cared only about himself, right? Wrong. Peter repented with deep sorrow, and that’s the kind of man he became. He fulfilled his potential as a great apostle of the Church, because Christ was not quick to reject him no matter how horrendous the moment of weakness.
The concept of true colors seems like a justification to condemn someone or an excuse to end the friendship, as well as an opportunity to reinforce one’s own worldview. The example of St. Peter shows that people can grow and develop, they can repent, and they can bear fruit for the Kingdom. Of course, people do show patterns of behavior, as opposed to instances, and some traits are deeply ingrained. Do not marry an abusive person and expect to change them, do not repeat a dysfunctional pattern and expect to get different results, and do not normalize the intolerable because others refuse to repent of it.
However, let us not overreact to a friend’s faults as they endeavor to work out their salvation, for we ourselves have known both defeat and victory. Our true colors will not be completely evident until the end of our life, and even then we have the example of the good thief on the cross who repented at the last minute. Let repentance be our basic and true color, and maybe people will perceive this and maybe not, but let us find comfort in the Christ who saved St. Peter and Who will do the same for us.