A great poet once said “Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.” Okay, so maybe that was Stevie Nicks. But she is a poet to me.
I have been thinking lately about those sweet little lies we tell, the ones that are intended to make the other person feel better. Or to make ourselves look or feel better. Or to just generally help a certain situation. And yet. How dangerous.
A retrospective of a past sweet little lie I told:
Once, when I was in college, the kind men of our brother fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha, kidnapped my roommate Dawn and I in an effort to coerce our pledges to find us (and in turn, maybe bond or something). We were hidden away all night in a town 45 minutes from our college at Houston and Elaine’s house. Once the pledges found us after an elaborate scavenger hunt, it was in the wee hours of the morning. Needless to say, I was at my 8am class without a wink of sleep, and by 3pm I was sitting at my desk at work and barely keeping it together. I was alone in the entire office and at some point I must have fallen asleep because I woke up with my forehead on my keyboard and my boss saying my name (in a very offensive tone, I might add). I kept my head down and immediately said “… in thy precious name, Amen.” I looked up innocently, “Yes? I was just saying a quick prayer. What can I do for you?” She bought it! And I kept my job.
This is an example of a sweet little lie that was relatively harmless. I went home that day, prayed for forgiveness and explained to God in such an authoritative tone that I couldn’t lose my job. Somebody had to pay the rent. I slept better that night.
And I have had a funny story to tell for years and years.
Then there are those big lies. The ones that hurt people or hurt myself. I have been lied to, so many times. Usually by men, sometimes by girlfriends. And it always hurts. But I don’t let it hurt the trust I have in people from the beginning. Everyone gets a clean slate at first.
Somebody once asked me to try to remember the biggest lie I have ever told. Unfortunately, I had been dishonest so many times that I couldn’t pinpoint the biggest one. I have lied to get a job (and then worked extra hard to prove myself, and once I caught up to where I needed to be, I didn’t remember that I shouldn’t have gotten the job to begin with). I have lied to save face. I have lied to make people feel better. I have lied to make myself feel better.
Thankfully this behavior is not recent. I have made a concerted effort over the past few years to be honest, sometimes brutally, with myself and the people in my life. It helps to have a person holding you accountable, and that person is God. It’s not easy. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes I hurt someone else. Sometimes I embarrass myself. But I sure sleep better at night.