|To my knowledge, this has never happened to anyone, anywhere.|
Following up on last Friday’s post, as well as more recent events, I’m still thinking about how my decision to love someone has to precede any possibility of speaking the truth to, with, or from them. (Ephesians 4:11-16, and especially v15—“speaking the truth in love”—is the scripture I’ve been contemplating.)
Specifically, this morning I’m thinking about how dearly I love some of my friends, despite the fact that they lie to me.
The Root(s) of Lies
As a pastor, I’m used to hearing from others what they want to believe about themselves. It’s no more true than any other lie would be, but most of the time they are only repeating to me what they hear themselves say. It’s often just wishful thinking about their own character. “I’ll see you at church Sunday.” “Don’t worry about it. I’ll call and order the parts.” “I’m fine. And how are you?” Sometimes, though, it’s more dangerously delusional. “Everybody’s business is a little slow right now. Things will turn around.” “She and I have just hit a little rough patch lately. We just need to make some time for each other.” “A doctor would just say it’s nothing to worry about, so why spend the money?”
|Hard to see it grow when he's looking you straight in the eye.|
The past few lies, though, were not based on self-deception. They were, in fact, the exact opposite of self-protection. They were lies that left the liars in dangerous situations. The liars lied with the intention to deceive me as to the circumstances they were facing. They gave untrue answers to direct questions about their personal safety.
To be fair, I should note the reason I now know I was lied to. In each case, the person who lied to me has since admitted the truth. I have followed-through as they imagined I would, because, as they know, I am their friend even when they lie to me.
Allowing the Lies
You see, I believe that Christian fellowship, any friendship, and relationships of all types require a commitment to authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability. By authenticity I mean, “What I choose to say is what is true.” Transparency, to me, means, “Whatever is true, I choose to say.” And vulnerability is simply the acknowledgement that when we say what is true, “it may be used in evidence against us.” With regard to my lying friends? In my attempts to live in authenticity and transparency, I willingly make myself vulnerable to the consequences of believing their lies. And in a few cases recently that has motivated them to trust me with the truth.
|My biggest problem with the lies? I believed them.|
This is not, however, the optimal means of building trusting relationships. Lies can badly damage our friendships. I still believe that authenticity and transparency, despite the vulnerability, is the best course to follow. But if my commitment to these relationships is to mean something, then I must accept its consequences. Creating an environment in which the truth may be spoken requires a commitment to establishing a loving relationship…in which someone may choose to lie for quite awhile longer before entrusting us with the truth.
Deciding to love first, ask questions later, and perhaps only eventually learn the truth about another person’s beliefs, behaviors, situations and circumstances? That commitment costs. And it hurts. But it works. And it’s worth it.