Have you ever lied to someone? Or, told a half truth? Whether it was to spare their feelings, or cover your bum, every lie has both a reason and a consequence. Seen, or unseen, there is always a fall out: hurt feelings, lost trust, or compromised integrity, to name a few.
Black or white isn’t an issue when it comes to falsehoods. I myself am guilty of using the “white lie” excuse. “I didn’t want to offend…” becomes our best defense. Because our own lies, with the understanding of our own motives, are easily defendable. Justifiable, even. We’re sparing feelings, or avoiding trouble. Yet, those who conceal or deceive spare no one. Not even themselves. (More on that, here.)
Recently, someone very close to me did something I previously would have deemed unforgivable: they lied to me. It wasn’t a small lie, or a white lie. It was one of those devestating lies that could potentially lead to disaster and distress. To my embarrassment, I will admit, I am not a particularly merciful person. Forgiveness is not a spiritual discipline that comes easily to me. To quote the great Fitzwilliam Darcy, “My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.“
Good Christian practice or not— it’s not, btw—it’s a code I’ve lived by for many, many years. Aside from being an obvious defense mechanism, this code has worked. Kind of. At the very least, it’s kept me from getting duped more than once. At the very most, it’s kept me from being disappointed by the same people, over and over again.
My thought process goes a little something like this:
“I want to believe you, but, you lied to me.“
“I want to trust you, but, you lied to me. “
I want to forgive you. To move on. To move past this betrayal. But you’ve proven yourself untrustworthy, and my accusing heart remembers that you lied to me. How could you hurt me?
But in truth, how could they not? I often say that people are disappointing. Humanity at it’s worst is depraved, and at it’s best, a work in progress. You only need to touch fire once to have it set in your mind that flames burn. In the same way, we are afraid to forgive those who’ve hurt us, because we fear further pain and disappointment. Yet, when we cut people out because of their imperfections, we may “protect” ourselves, but we also cheat ourselves out of an opportunity to forgive; to strengthen and grow in relationship.
Love anything, and you run the risk of a broken heart. It’s the tragedy of human relationship. C.S. Lewis says, “The alternative to [that] tragedy, or at least the risk of tragedy, is damnation.” We risk damnation by isolation. We short ourselves the opportunity to increase in depth and dynamic, both as an individual, and in relationship. Character development is our favorite part of films and fairy stories, but it is painfully sacrificing in real life.
Of course, there’s a difference between a mistake and a habit. Wisdom to know the difference is all a part of relational growth. While I’m still training myself not to bolt (both in running, and the door to my heart) at the first sign of deception and dissimulation, my half-lived, whole-hearted admonition to the world is this: move your buts.
You lied to me, but, I forgive you. Let’s try this again.
Until next time, move those buts, readers.