Truth is, I am by nature a very good liar. I can look you straight in the eyes and convincingly tell you some massive untruths. I learned this about myself early on…..practiced it on my parents and on others for my own amusement. Convinced one girl in junior high that President Richard Nixon was my uncle. During Watergate maybe I should have really been ashamed of that one and recanted, but no….my stance was that he was very misunderstood and there were things about that whole affair that could not come to light for the protection of the people of our country.
My very intuitive mother would have the sense that what I said was untrue, and it infuriated her that she couldn’t prove it, but my resolve was unshakeable. I could hold out forever…..and I did. Send me to my room, I would stay there for days. Restrict me from all activities, I would become the household martyr. Put me through waterboarding, and I would not budge. (OK, maybe they didn’t try that. But only because they didn’t know about it!) I would have gone to my death before I would admit it was a lie.
But having a mother that was not only intuitive but wise, she finally figured out a way to best me. For the long term. “That very well may be the case, and I will believe you,” she would say. “But always know that while you can fool me, God is listening and He will always know the truth.”
Nope….it didn’t do anything outwardly at the time she said it…..I’m a bit too stubborn for that. The lying continued because I was a teenager and I could. But her words did marinate in my soul.
There also was this book from my childhood. Sent to me from my Welsh Nana….which in itself was interesting since faith wasn’t a big part of her life. The story was of a boy who lied. And each time he did, a piece of his heart turned black. That is all I remember about the story…..but for some reason the image of that stuck. And I think it gave me nightmares.
It was during my college years that I made a personal decision. I didn’t want a black heart. Whether people believed me or not, really didn’t matter. I wanted to be a person of truth. Someone whose word counts. And I felt it to the point that it even went beyond whether God was listening (or a security camera was on the premises.) It’s a quality I value in others, and one of the principle values I choose to have for myself. One of the bedrocks of my life.
It’s been a good decision. And it’s actually one of those things that does become more easy when put into daily practice. You have to concentrate on the little lies most….because the subtle is what often sneaks up on us and changes who we are.
The most hurt I have been in life have been those times when people lied to me. In some ways I think I mentally turn a piece of their heart black each time they do. It shakes my confidence in them. It takes a long time to really trust them again. Maybe we never trust them to the same extent. But one thing about lying that liars don’t always realize. Very, very often people will know or suspect the truth. Very, very often they will never let on and will even feign surprise when you confess. Especially here in the South. They can treat you exactly the same on the outside, but always remember who you are on the inside.
But I also try to forgive those who lie….because I know it is something that requires daily commitment and resolve…..and keeping really short accounts. And yeah……because that plank in my own eye is pretty darn big. Left out of control lies create wildfire in your life. Sometimes when you are standing in the middle of wildfire, you just stand paralyzed and don’t know your way out. Eventually you will see the way….or it will destroy you. I think the only way out of lies is to go overboard with truth. And I don’t think that anyone can rescue you. You have to do it yourself.
So I try to be truthful at all times, even with the small things. I’m not the friend you go to to hear the lies you want someone to tell you. (But it’s OK…..you have plenty of other people in your life for that if it is what you need.) I will not tell you that you did a good job if you didn’t. I will not tell you that is was OK to be unkind to someone when it wasn’t. I will not tell you that your butt does not look big in the jeans if it really does. (I will instead condemn the person who designed those stupid jeans….what were they thinking?) I will try to help you figure your way out of the wildfire…..while remembering that I can’t rescue you from it. But let me tell you in advance that my advice will generally require much confession and truth-telling! Especially with yourself.
I still have the sense of humor where I just may tell a tall tale for the sake of humor. I’m sometimes surprised when I find out that people actually believe them and have actually even learned to watch this a bit with vulnerable hearts. Because I have had people come up years later and believe something that I thought was clearly evident was said in jest. So let me confess now. When I worked at Pilot Life in the 80s, I was not best friends with the President’s daughter and was not in her wedding. The stories of all the parties I attended for the event were pure fabrication. Mr. Stephens hugged me and kissed my cheek when he came by for the Christmas handshakes that year not because I was a close family friend, but because my friend Allison and I sent him a musical Christmas card. Because we thought it would be funny. And then he referred to me as “the other one” when I looked over the wall at Allison’s cubicle when he was thanking her by name, and he could tell I was a bit miffed. (“The other one”? After I went all over that mall looking for the cheapest musical Christmas card I could find???) So I got more than the typical handshake. (Funny man, he. And after I had lotioned up my hands!) Oh….and I never planned to get married during those years, even though I planned my wedding a lot of times. It was the claims department. I had to do something to break up the monotony of paying claims. The Halloween wedding shower I was given was actually my going away party from my claims unit, who loved my Halloween-themed wedding the best, and had an odd sense of humor like me. Noone ever expected me to use those feather dusters, toilet brushes and other cleaning products….and they really didn’t expect my future husband was going to either (as I proclaimed this wonderful imaginary groom-to-be would, as I opened those gifts.) And the red long johns were not really going to be used for my honeymoon lingerie. Lies, lies, all lies. Gee….this is all just in a short time period. Maybe I need to start writing a book of “Tall Tales I Didn’t Think Anyone Would Ever Believe…..But Found Out Later They Did.” It seems I may have lots of material.