“Always tell the truth and never tell a lie”. That was our family motto when I was a kid. It’s a good motto, and one that I broke fairly easily.
I didn’t lie when the consequences didn’t matter.
“Did you eat the cookies?” Yes.
“Did you hit your brother?” Yes.
I only lied when I was afraid, or when I wanted to avoid some type of confrontation.
“What are you thinking?” Nothing.
“Do you like me?” Yes.
“Do you agree?” Of course.
To me, the consequences of telling the truth in the first questions, while potentially painful, were more manageable than the consequences of the second set.
The latter questions can’t be easily measured or investigated, and their answers point to me as a person, versus me and my actions.
Over the years, I’ve become more honest, and I’m better for it. It’s not easy! Honest conversations take warrior’s courage.
To admit that I strongly disagree with a friend, also means choosing to believe that person will still love me when the conversation ends. To admit the darkest parts of myself, means walking into a gauntlet of emotions.
I’m often afraid the person on the receiving end will walk away. That I’ll become a needy, desperate friend, whom no one wants to be around. Or worse, that my friends will take it upon themselves to judge me like God, and determine that I’m a horrible human being (which doesn't sound like God at all. But that's a topic for another day.).
I understand that sounds extreme. Writing it sounds ridiculous. Most of my friends are Christians, and Christians don’t judge, right?
And I’m a good person, nothing I could do or say would be so horrible, right?
Why do so many of us lie? We all do it. We’re hiding the best and worst parts of ourselves because we’ve predetermined another person’s response.
A recovering addict will tell you, “the hardest step is admitting the truth”.
“What are you thinking?” That I’m ready to end this conversation.
“Do you like me?” Not today.
“Do you agree?” That’s ridiculous.
As I practice this truth-telling, my responses become more loving, more confident, and more productive.
In the last two weeks I’ve had half a dozen or more of these conversations. Conversations ripe with honesty and emotion. I share stories, I get to hear others. It doesn’t take long to remember that we’re all kind of the same.