I’m a Liar.
I made this acknowledgement regularly when I was younger because I truly was. I lied about everything and anything. Big whopper fibs and little white lies. Whatever I said that would make things a bit more comfortable for me – in hopes of helping my motives, thoughts and actions remain hidden, was usually a lie.
Melinda, did you feed the cat? Yes! (Nope)
Melinda, did you clean your room? Yep, just finished! (Sure, if that meant stuffing everything under the bed so the room appeared clean)
Melinda, did you come right home after school? Yea, I did. (Eventually – so not entirely a lie, but I knew the real question was “did you stop at that boys house on your way home?” and since that was not the question asked, well…)
Those were just the beginnings of many years of lying. As I grew older the fabrications grew more complex and began building walls around me. Lies covered up an abusive relationship; lies cost me a night in jail; lies left me with scars on my wrists.
If you have never been even a casual liar, here’s what you should understand about us: telling the truth exposes too many things that we do not want you to see, like irresponsibility and shortcomings that are not accepted or tolerated; motives of the heart that are not aligned with that of others; a degree of vulnerability and tenderness that is easily injured. We lie to protect ourself. Sometimes telling the truth is just too painful to reveal our reality; sometimes the company we are in has not proved to be safe for the truth to reside.
I remember when my lies became a daily ritual. Doubt and questioning followed me and my friends and family began to call me out. Because the consequences of my lies became more distressing than it might have been to just tell the truth, I tried harder to be more honest.
It was not until I recognized how liberating it was to speak the truth – revealing the real me, the authentic me. The absence of truth was separating me from discovering myself. Exposing irresponsibility allowed my heart to desire to become more responsible; exposing selfish motives allowed my heart to desire to be more pure and selfless; exposing my true emotions allowed others to respond lovingly, showing me that the truth was indeed safe to be expressed in their presence.
When my heart changed, the lies no longer proved to be safe.
I have since discovered that expressing my unique voice and walking confidently in my calling is reliant upon me being completely truthful. Every day I still battle against resorting to a lie. Every circumstance and situation that awaits response begs me to retreat to a comfortable half-truth. But I refuse to go back to the days of even little white lies – surface and superficial reactions. I cannot live like that any longer, it completely conflicts with my new nature. I am so grateful and thankful for a renewed heart that I do not take this transformation lightly, and so, as painful as it may be at times, it is because I love people that I choose to speak the truth.
“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.” Ephesians 4:15
That’s great, you say. But here’s the catch: if I only shared with you all the blessings of being honest I would be withholding the truth, and that too is a lie. So I will say this, it is much more comfortable and at times safer to hide behind a lie – to give the responses people are looking for; seeking to please others instead of expressing what is real.
You will get ostracized. You will not be liked, in fact, you will even lose friendships because your words do not support the agenda of another. And without your agreement you no longer serve purpose for them. You will grieve and wish you had just told them what they wanted to hear. Your words will be criticized and your character will be challenged.
But know this: we are called to authentic living. We are called to speak life and truth in love. This is family. This is real community.This is loving your neighbor over yourself.
The truth is, to speak in love is not always bunnies and rainbows. Real love is gritty, vulnerable, risky and brave. But to some, love is always and only cheery and bright, fluffy and happy; this is a false expectation of love.
Truth spoken can be laced with love and yet still be received as offensive. It in these moments when we must trust in the love within a friendship and accept their words as loving even though we may not feel warm and fuzzy. We must choose to love others by receiving their truth and allowing their courageous words to fall within a safe place. A welcoming response towards our allies communicates an even greater display of love and acceptance.
Can we, as the ones uncomfortable with someones truth spoken to us, consider the great vulnerability that was risked by a friend? Can we consider the value this person brings to our life, allowing us to remember why we love them? Can we choose to remember who they are over how much we agree or disagree with them?
Others may not see your words as praising to them, the discomfort they experience does not “feel” like love, so your words will be rejected, even labeled insensitive or heartless. Have you been there? I have. It’s a painful place, a reminder of how easy life was when I could just swiftly people please with strategic words. But I have hope for you, my friend. Freedom comes when you learn that the greatest expression of love is truth. It is because we love, that we tell the truth.
My husband Mike is my best friend, my love for him is insanely wild. It is because of this love that I cannot hide when I am upset or hurt or if I sense that our relationship is off track. Sure, it means we have to talk about uncomfortable feelings, but it is because of our great love for each other that we hear each others truths and commit to staying in peace and unity.
You want to test the depth of a relationship? Tell the truth. I dare you.
Speak up when you disagree instead of the safe nod. If they still keep your friendship close, if you are still respected, embraced and fully loved you have found authentic love and a healthy friendship.
Want to test your ability to love others wholly? Allow them the freedom to be honest with you. Give them a safe place to be authentic and real. Create a culture of love by encouraging others to be themselves with you; eliminate the opportunity for fear based communication.
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” – John 13:34,35
Lets be a people whose love for each other is so courageous that we welcome each others authenticity. Want to be an effective and contagious Christian? Love excessively. We do this by being truthful and by welcoming truth.
Liars like me need safe places to be who they are: truthful.