Donald Miller wrote a great post, The Devastating Power of Lies in a Relationship. Donald quotes authors Cloud and Townsend that there are two kinds of liars: the ones who lie out of shame or fear and those that are pathological liars who lie even when it is easier to tell the truth. The first kind of liar can get better and learn to tell the truth; Cloud and Townsend advises that we need to stay away from the others because we can’t depend upon them emotionally or practically.
I’ve thought about the times I’ve been lied to, big ones and little ones, and I’ve felt the same as Donald feels:
1. I felt disrespected and unimportant, like I wasn’t trustworthy enough to be told the truth.
2. I felt like a fool when I found out the extent of the lies (it wasn’t technically a lie, it was just a part truth that seemed to be testing our relationship. But when I found out the truth I felt tricked and deceived).
3. I thought less of my friends because I knew they were willing to “cheat” in the relationship (“When we lie we are stealing a social commodity without having earned it.”)
4. I felt sad and lonely (“When we think we are getting to know someone, we give them a part of our hearts; when they lie, we know they’ve held back their hearts while we’ve given them ours.”)
5. When they don’t confess, I feel that they don’t care enough about me to come clean. I have a friend who will say they’ll call at a certain time, and invariably the call never comes. The next time I hear from them when I ask what happened, it is always, “my phone needed to be charged, I fell asleep, I was busy with late night work”.
Donald then explained how he felt when he realized he had been lied to, “Here’s what didn’t happen. I didn’t think less of them, and while I was angry, I wasn’t angry because I thought they were a bad person. The person who lied probably assumed I felt such things, but I didn’t. What really happened was I felt terrible about myself and when somebody makes us feel bad about ourselves, we tend to get hurt and move away…Lying is manipulation; if they get caught they are probably going to keep manipulating, telling more lies to cover up, or playing the victim. What they have is a hard time facing the truth.”
Donald says if you’ve lied in a relationship, and want to change, here’s what you need to start doing: CONFESS, ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES, DON’T EXPECT THE RELATIONSHIP TO BE THE SAME AND DON’T LIE ANYMORE.
I have a confession. In the past 6 years, I’ve been working hard on not lying, not even those little white lies that Satan puts in our heads that just slip out of our mouth. I’ve realized that when I lie it is out of shame or fear and that I can change. But it happened again this week.
So—the confession. I was talking with the Executive Director of the University of Oklahoma Booster Club for Women’s Golf and told him about the great round I had when I played in the National Championship in 1976. (This year’s team is playing in the NCAA Championship this week in Franklin TN at Legend’s Club and it is great to relive my college career with them on the course). I was telling Bill about my opening round in 1976, it was my career low and also the team low for the day. That wasn’t the lie, that part was true. Then he asked me, “What was the score you shot?” I responded, “I don’t remember it was so long ago.” That was the lie! Of course I remember—who wouldn’t remember every detail of the best round of their collegiate career? But I was ashamed of it because the College players are so much better than we were then, and the equipment is better, and the coaches are better, and the practice facilities. But last night after I got home from dinner with the team, the “lie” ate at me. Why couldn’t I just tell Bill the score? Because Satan was telling me that I should have been ashamed that I wasn’t a better golfer.
After much thought last night, I realized that I should recognize that I am happy with the hand that God has dealt me in all aspects of my life, so there is nothing to be ashamed of. As far as golf, I am not a great golfer, but I am a better-than-average woman golfer and I should take pride in that—because it is the way that God has made me.
So here it is Bill: On that June day in 1976 in East Lansing. Michigan, I shot a 90 for low round of my career and low round for the team for the day.
I don’t want to lie anymore, even those little white lies.