Why I Lie

Women lie. It’s as simple as that.

A man might walk up to another man and say, "Wow, you’ve lost a lot of hair since I saw you last!" or "I think you’ve put on a few pounds in the past year, right?"

Women don’t want to hurt someone with the truth.

If a woman asks, "Do you like my haircut?" we feel obligated to think of something good to say. Even if she shaved her head and dyed the other half purple with orange spikes, we feel we have to say, "It’s so CUH-UUUUU-ET!" or "It looks so good on you!"

In my early 20’s, I was studying the Bible and was convicted about being honest with women, no matter the cost. I couldn’t lie to make someone feel better about anything in their life, especially their sin. So, I asked the Lord to give me gracious boldness to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

In the bathroom the next Sunday morning, a friend caught my eyes in the mirror and asked, "What do you think about my makeup?"

Instantly, I knew the Lord was providing an opportunity to test my conviction. I paused and she prompted me for an answer. The color didn’t match her skin tones and was so bright, it stood out in an unattractive way. Very quickly I blurted out, "I think the lipstick is a little too bright."

Like I’d slapped her, she pulled her head back, opened her eyes wide and said, "The lipstick is the same, I meant the eye makeup."

I mumbled something complimentary about the eye make-up, which was attractive, encouraged her to choose a lipstick that matched those tones better, not backing down from my original statement of truth.  When we parted, I felt we were still friends, but I was pretty sure she’d never ask my opinion again.

Since then, I’ve had too many opportunities to speak the truth, but I’ve learned to be more graceful and tactful.

 

Lie

(snipped from Dictionary.com)

People don’t always want to hear the truth.

Asking "How are you?" can be a social obligation, not a friendship-building moment of intimacy.

I try to be honest. I feel like a liar when I answer "FINE" but I’m not fine. It’s the socially acceptable answer, but it isn’t always true, and twinges my conscience. Not everybody wants to hear the true story, but I don’t want to lie.

Going through cancer, I soon realized many don’t want the whole story, some don’t even want the highlights. Discerning when to vent and when to give the expected answer was a necessary coping skill. But, part of me rebelled. I wanted to ask, "Why do you ask how I’m doing if you really don’t want to hear the answer?"

I re-tried my honesty is best policy when the grocery cashier asked how I was doing. I said, "Not too good, I’ve had a headache all day." She was stunned into silence. She was so silent, it made my husband uncomfortable.

"Why did you say that?" I explained my new honest policy and he said, "Well, maybe you didn’t have to be that honest." He understands the awkward "how are you" dilemma perfectly and wanted to spare me future pain from my honesty.

Another time my honesty policy had a negative effect I was going through cancer treatment. Someone asked empathetically how I was doing, and I thought the scepter to speak was extended, so I offered a few stresses of the current situation. When I saw him fidgeting, losing eye contact and edging backwards down the stairs, I knew I’d gone too far. I reeled in the rest of my sentence and sincerely thanked him for asking.

The other day at Costo I was very tired after trying to navigate a full cart through a packed store. Navigating the big cart with the perpetual wayward wheel is always hard, but insomnia and  nerve damage in my arm make it more challenging. The damage is not a physical 9 on a scale of 1-10 with pain, but a gnawing ache that fatigues. I don’t quit Costco when I’m done, I quit when I’m tired. The too cheerful clerk came over and began helping me load the groceries onto the moving conveyor belt. Thankful for the help, I snagged the light items and left the heavy items to her youthful strength.

I knew it was coming.

I battled emotionally within. Truth or lie? Truth or lie?

"How are you doing?"

I opted for honesty. "I’m tired," I said as I lifted a tiny thing of cinnamon instead of the case of black beans.

Her smile increased. "Well, that’s good."

I was too tired to be offended. Maybe she had a lot of her mind. Maybe she had personal struggles. Maybe she was suffering from insomnia. Maybe, maybe, maybe I shouldn’t have been honest.

I waited for the second test from the exit door attendant, a white-haired man with one of those friendly mustaches that smiles.

While counting the items on my receipt and the items in my cart, he asked me, "How’s your day, dear?" My emotional sensory detector was still on stun mode so I lied. "I’m fine." He checked my receipt, looked me full in the face and said warmly and sincerely, "Have a nice day, dear."

Two strikes. I told the truth to someone who wasn’t listening, I lied to the man who would have cared.

For the rest of the day, I argued with myself through this spiritual and emotional dilemma. Tell the truth or tell a lie.

"It’s not really a lie if I say FINE when I am tired or have a headache. Spiritually I am always fine because It Is Well With My Soul."

Then I waffled the other way, "It’s not the truth because I am not fine. And, maybe people would learn to listen if I always answer truthfully instead of offering what they expect to hear."

With the hymn humming through my soul that day and the next, I came up with my new truthful answer that wouldn’t bother my conscience.

The next time someone asks, “How are you?” I will answer,

"I am well!"

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15 Responses to Why I Lie

  1. Nessa October 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    I know EXACTLY what you mean! I opt for truth more often than most people– especially when I’m feeling like being an “activist” or when it can’t help but show on my face. I do go with fine more often than not– but just because I’m too tired of it all to explain again.

    • Momma Mindy October 5, 2012 at 12:35 am #

      That’s why WELL is a great Christian answer! 🙂 Yes, I love your honest spirit, you are so refreshing and a joy to be around, even through the worst of your suffering. You state the truth without a complainy and unthankful spirit, and I know you’ve suffered tremendously in the last year. Continuing to pray for your health, your family and your writing opportunities.

  2. Maureen Lytle October 4, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    This is so apropos for what some of us were discussing the other night. Do you mind if I share it? Thanks so much, MIndy! Love you, dear sister, and please feel free to call or write me anytime you need to vent.
    ~Maureen

    • Momma Mindy October 5, 2012 at 12:32 am #

      That’s why I love you SO much, Maureen. A woman who will listen to me, not repeat what I’ve shared, but not be afraid to gently point me back to Jesus when I am a litte astray in my heart and actions. We’ve always had real friendship and fellowship since the day we met. Please feel free to share.

  3. Deborah October 4, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    You wrote a post that should of been mine. :o)

    I often will say things like, “well, it’s too early in the day to tell”. In response to – How are you?

    Or I throw out something like. “Mediocre”. LOL

    I really don’t like just using the word, “fine”. Because who I am, what I’m feeling, what’s going on in my life – really doesn’t equal just fine. Even on a good day.

    • Momma Mindy October 5, 2012 at 12:33 am #

      Thank you SO much for leaving a comment today. I appreciated knowing I wasn’t the only one who struggled with such a simple question as “How are you?”

      I was also thankful you stopped by, because yours was one blog I hadn’t tranferred over to WordPress, and I happy to say I’m following again.

  4. Big Al October 5, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    Your answer should be ” my family says I am the greatest mother ever”

    • Momma Mindy October 5, 2012 at 1:21 am #

      Aw, you are so sweet, little bro! Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. momstheword October 6, 2012 at 3:06 am #

    I had to laugh at some of this, lol! I know what you mean, when a sales clerk asks me I usually reply “I am fine” or “Doing well” because ultimately, I am compared to a lot of people, lol!

  6. Andi October 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    I used to work with a lady who was brutally honest. “Your head is getting GIANT.” She shared that with me multiple times during my pregnancy. I only put on 17 pounds but I swear 8 of them must have been in the melon.
    And while that is unrelated to an extent to this post, I thought of it. And so I shared.
    Of course, I wasn’t ASKING about my head size so her honesty was unsolicited.
    And real friends tell each other about makeup disasters…unless the person lives in makeup disaster mode, and then you just love them in spite of their Tammy Faye ways…
    I am rambling. Too much coffee.

  7. Momma Mindy October 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    You bring up such a good point about honesty – there needs to benefit to the other person. Yea, you couldn’t do anything about your head, so that honesty was useless. However, if you had a booger hanging out of your nose, that would be good to know.

    And, you have to earn the right to be honest in other people’s lives. I’m blogging more about this next week, thanks for sharing!

    I like you with or without too much coffee! 🙂 You’re always fun and encouraging.

  8. lifeonacheeseplatter October 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    This reminds me of Uncle Ben from Story Book. He would ask you how you are and when/if you responded, “I’m good.” He would break out in a big smile and say, “No one is good, no not one.” I think I altered my answer to, “I’m doing well.” eventually… but he got me almost every time. Sorry, kind of unrelated- but I think Uncle Ben would like your new answer :).

    • Momma Mindy October 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      Thank you so much for sharing about Uncle Ben! I had forgotten this reply and it made me picture him with much love today. He is one of my most cherished influences in my life, through his work at Story Book my husband was saved. Later, he brought
      Scott in to preach during a summer camp and nutured his spiritual gift. I loved hearing this today, thanks!

  9. Rachel October 9, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    I don’t like “How are you?” either – at least not the way most people use it. I’ve learned that most people really don’t want to know, so I usually use the culturally acceptable answer of “fine”, (except with friends who I know really DO want to know)! Learning more about cultural things in the last couple years, I’ve decided it’s not a “lie” to say I’m fine, because since the person didn’t mean it as an actual question, it’s just a cultural formality.
    It bugs me when I hear people say that so-and-so went on and on about their life after asking “how are you?” I reply, “Well, you did ask them the question!” I guess it just shows that most people look at it as a formality.
    Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Momma Mindy October 9, 2012 at 3:43 am #

      I agree, it’s culturally acceptable to say FINE and it isn’t a lie….maybe what really bothers me isn’t that I am lying, but that I really don’t have permission to answer. I’m thankful for many friends who want to hear the truth and will speak the truth to me in love. Thank you for sharing your heart.

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