"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Art of Lying

I was lied to the other night. He wasn't very good at the art form or at that moment, in particular, I saw through it as clear as day. But, I was clearly lied to. All in brotherly love, right?...

We Christians have mastered the art of lying. We lie to each other all the time and then we spiritualize it away and call it "being sensitive", "sacrifice" or "service". I was lied to probably four times yesterday. I could see it in his eyes. I could see the lie in his eyes as his words said one thing, "yes", but his heart was reeling against the request. We lie to each other all the time. I, too, lie.

What are we doing exactly? Dr. Cloud talks about the Christian (or human) tendency to "manage the emotions of another person". So, I discern what that person wants me to say, or wants me to feel, or wants my answer to be... and then say that thing, do that thing or answer that way. Some of us do this better than others. Some of us do the discerning better. Some lie better or cover up their true feelings better than others. Unfortunately, I can do them all well.

These last few years it has been a deeply personal goal of mine to stop this ugly habit and live my life honestly, not managing other's emotions or responses. This is not easy. When you attempt to do it... you say "no" more frequently and you don't "agree" with that piece of gossip that would be natural to just wag your head up and down and say "interesting... or uh, huh..." Interestingly enough, when you try to do this some people don't trust you. Strange as it sounds you get the questioning look more often. It is clear you have stopped playing by the rules. This is confounding to some and off putting to others. Those that are particularly good at this art form are trying their darnedest to discern if you really mean that "yes" you said or just saying it. What in the world are we doing to each other!?

The other night we offered a favor to a friend. As honestly as I can say, it was a genuine offer of help on our part; but, they had a question in their face. You see we lie to each other so much that any real, genuine offer of help is questioned... they are now trying to manage my emotions and figure out if I really want to help or if I am just saying so... Oh how this lying has corrupted our trust of each other!

We tell each other enough stories of how we have been "taken advantage of" and we offer enough fake help that all of us are constantly assuming that others are doing it as well. We just lie to each other.

Now, as I write this, I am aware of people who proudly refer to themselves as "straight forward" and are actually just unkind, selfish, mean and lacking in verbal self control. I am not talking about that. I am not talking about being careful with our words and choosing when to speak truth. I am not talking about our admonition in Scripture to speak truth in love. I am not talking about the "yes you look fat in that dress" comments that are unproductive and unnecessary. I am not talking about those who are selfish, don't ever serve and call it "good boundaries", either. Certainly we all need to grow in serving... truly serving with right attitudes!

I am talking about the person who lied to my face last night when he said, "yes" and really didn't want to help. I am talking about the person who I had to convince last night that I was genuinely offering help... and she didn't need to question my motives, my emotions or my offer. It just isn't spiritual to offer help or compassion when the act or the words will be complained about later to a safe spouse or friend. It is just wrong. It isn't Christ like to say yes to everything. It isn't right to say something your heart does not mean in a effort to manage another's emotions, to have them like you or to "be" Christ like.

Maybe this means that some of us need to have a change of heart and want to help more, as Christ served. Maybe this means that some of us need to stop lying and not feel obligated to serve when it is not what God is calling us to do. Even as I write this it sounds so scandalous.

I can speak so candidly on the subject because I, too have mastered this Christian art of lying. This learning curve has been a steep one for me... and I am still learning.

Oh Lord help your Church to stop lying to each other. Help us to follow your example, Christ, and to do that which you see your Father doing. You said "no" often and you said "yes" often and you truly meant it each time. You never lied, Lord. Teach us. Teach me.
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