When I was in elementary school (a long—I mean a REALLY long time ago) we used to play a crazy game called Truth or Dare. When the kids I hung with would even mention playing this game, I would begin to fret and come up with a reason why I had to hurry and go home before they even got started. I have to tell you that the whole idea of being dared to do something that I knew I would never do on my own—well, let's just say this was not my idea of fun and games.
I was not the bravest of kids. I was not confident in most things and rarely did I take a risk or be a "dare-devil" like so many of my friends. To spell it out: I was a scaredy-cat. It's actually carried into my adult life. Just ask my sister about the time I prayed all the way from Anclote Island back to her dock (I swore our john boat was going to sink in the midst of a crazy storm) . . . all the while, she laughed at the rain and waves AND at me for being "such a lilly."
But Truth or Dare always did come up and it seemed we would always play this dumb game time and time again. I would keep my fingers crossed behind my back, hoping they wouldn't call my name; however, they did and when I was asked: "Rhonda Byars, Truth or Dare?" you can bet your bottom dollar that I quickly blurted out TRUTH! Trust me when I say that I would rather tell the truth when asked some off the wall question than risk having to steal someone's newspaper and pedal my bike home as fast as I could (yes, I did) without getting caught. Like this game was fun?
Some lessons in life you learn the hard way, amen?
Now, let me clarify: I wasn't always a truth teller. In fact, on more occasions than I care to admit, I opted to lie vs. tell the truth. But I learned quickly that lying was a dead end street and that the truth always comes to the surface (ask my sister once again about the time I hid cigarette butts in the old 45 player because it was broken). And if you think that I was only an adolescent offender, just ask my husband about the "secret credit card" during our early years of marriage.
I was an expert at lying. It was in the early years of my relationship with Christ that He made it crystal clear that this was simply not acceptable and that His plan was to convict, work, sand, carve, chisel, dig, dissect, remove and work me over, over and over again, until I was convinced that He was right. You could have easily found me at LA (Liar's Anonymous) meetings because I will always choose group therapy. It's more fun to know that you're not alone with your issues! (insert smile)
I've been thinking a lot lately about why we are prone to lie and I've come up with two pretty simple answers:
1) We lie about something because we want attention.
2) We like about something because we don't want attention.
Now don't read past that so fast. Go back and let it soak for a minute. Lying is a bad habit that starts young and can follow us into adulthood if we're not careful. Sometimes we "stretch the truth" or offer a "little white lie" because it makes the story, our story bigger or better, thus drawing attention to ourselves. And then, there are the times we lie because we don't want attention. We don't want something in our lives to be exposed, brought into the light—so we "stretch the truth" or offer a "little white lie" so that whatever we say, takes the focus off of us and takes any attention regarding the situation off of us. Somewhere, we've bought a huge lie from the Father of Lies (Yep, that's Satan himself) that we either need attention, or we must hide from it. Bottom line is that whether we're seeking to attract attention or steer clear of it, when we lie, we've crossed one of the biggest compromise lines known to man. Lying is, by far, one of the most ruthless ways that Satan has a field day with our hearts and lives. I hate him for how he's wreaked havoc on so many lives because of this unhealthy heart cry: I need attention. I must hide from it.
Since I've mentioned my sister, I need to tell you that she has nudged me toward being a truth teller for many, MANY years. Her level of integrity and trustworthiness exceeds just about anyone I've ever known. There have been a few times that her gut honesty has packed a powerful punch (her motive was NOT to hurt, but to help) but I can tell you that I know that she will never lie to draw attention to herself, and she'll never compromise her character by lying in order to avoid truth being exposed. If you read this, Pat Byars Straub . . . THANK YOU. You are a powerful example of someone who tells the truth—LIVES the truth.
I work in the principal's office and there is one warning that I always offer students who are sent to see him because of a "discrepancy." Here it goes: "You have one opportunity—tell the truth. If you are honest, there will be consequences, but it will be less painful on you if you tell the truth. If you lie to him, you will have two sets of issues to deal with. I look them dead in the eye and I say it again: Tell. The. Truth."
So often I hear God say that to me. I'm not a kid anymore and I'm certainly not playing Truth or Dare. I'm still scared today of taking big risks and will never take a dare so don't "dare" me to bungee jump or raft down the Ocoee. I'm scared, okay—plus it does NOT sound like fun to me. But friends, we live in a day when telling the truth/living the truth is more crucial than ever. Our very lives—our witness is built on and around it. I hear the Lord loud and clear that "stretching the truth" in order to have attention just can't be. His Spirit puts the squeeze on my heart that I must have zero part of avoiding attention by covering something up that I know is not of Him.
God's grace covers those who need attention and those who are throwing a blanket over it. He beckons us to be honest. Honesty is STILL the very best policy. Training our kids and grandkids to tell the truth, no matter what, is one of the most genuine character gifts we can instill in them. Remember the old saying: "You can never expect your kids to live something that you don't?" It stands true today.
There's a huge payoff, too: It honors God.
I am challenged, more than ever in my life, to be a woman who tells the truth. Speaks the truth—lives the truth. God, give us wisdom seasoned with mercy so that we can speak the truth/tell the truth in love when we are asked hard questions when it might be easier to lie.
Give us a big dose of your attention so that we won't feel the need to stretch the truth or tell a little ole' white lie, in order to make us, our kids, grandkids, job, ministry—anything—look better than it is. Give us conviction woven with courage, to rid our lives of anything that we must hide which might ultimately draw attention to us.
God is light. In Him there is no darkness at all. If we need attention, let's allow His light to illuminate our hearts and provide what we need. If we are avoiding attention, let's allow that same light to shine so brightly onto our lives that it will change anything that may be tip-toeing around in the dark.
Last year I thought I could pull of a "little white lie" to my brother-in-law. I suppose I completely forgot that God was dead serious about this issue—so, I just tossed it out there.
I was avoiding attention because I didn't want to be "found out."
It didn't take long. God was serious enough that He wouldn't leave me alone until I confessed to my B-I-L, owned the whole thing and asked for his forgiveness. We had a big laugh over it—I was embarrassed to death but more than that, I was deeply relieved. Thankful that I was right with him—beyond grateful that I was right with my God.
Now it's your turn: Truth or Dare? Take the truth card. Riding a bike blindfolded is just not smart.
Bring it on Summer
6 years ago