Monday, March 22, 2010


So, we're doing this sermon series at church about Honesty. Every week, they show some funny statistics about how much we lie. About our age, how much we paid for a shirt, whether we finished that bag of chips or not.

We all lie.

There are, apparently, four types of liars.

1. The occasional liar

We all have done this at sometime in our lives. The occasional liars are not used to lying, but for some reason occasionally may lie to protect their self, their interlocutor or some other person. In the background of every lie there is fear. The fear to face reality. The occasional liar thinks very well on what to say so as to appear believable. However, because they are not accustomed to lying, the body cries out the contradiction and there are a lot of signs that show that they are lying.

2. The frequent liar

Frequent liars are people who lie regularly. However, unlike the occasional liar, the frequent liar does not have the time to thing about lying, because they lie all the time, so they often fall into contradictions and logical signs that betray their act.
3. The natural liar
People who lie almost continuously and often are not aware that they are doing it as they have a relative opinion about what is true. They fall into obvious contradictions and then they try with sophisticated ways to save it. Although their body language seems very natural, because they are used to lying, when asked pressing questions, their body signals indicate the contradiction that has been initially hidden by them.
4. Professional liar
They are lying deliberately for a specific purpose or just to trick us. They study our possible objections and they know what to say. They have thought about all the scenarios and their solutions. Although they are often trained to "act" their body language (salesmen, advertisers, politicians, professionals, lovers, etc.), there are always some small details that can initially raise our suspicions and after research reveal their fraud.

Now, I was married to someone who somehow, inexplicably, was a mega, award winning liar. As my pastor ran down the different types of liars, I found myself nodding right along with three out of four of those types, so there must somehow be some overlap. I think a more simplistic version would be that lying people lie, then they lie some more, and soon they're believing their own lies and it becomes a vicious cycle. It's a sensitive topic for me. 

The knee jerk reaction, for me at least, after spending years and years with someone who lied a whole heck of a lot, is to tell the truth all the time. All the time. Even when it's not nice to hear, even when it hurts feelings. But is there a point at which you can be too honest?

There is a school of thought out there that if you're just telling the truth to relieve your own conscience that you should just keep it to yourself and save that other person from being hurt for no good reason. I get that. I do. Sometimes telling the truth can lift a weight from our own shoulders and place it squarely on someone else's, and that sucks. But still...where's the line? It's kind of like when people say "No offense, but..." You know whats coming next is probably going to be offensive, but saying those words let them off the hook. Hearing "Honestly?" sometimes gives me the same feeling in the pit of my stomach. 

And what about lying to yourself? Does that still count as a lie? Can you do yourself just as big a disservice by convincing yourself of something that's not quite true as you can do to someone else?

I don't know the right answers, here. It's just on my mind. I'm brainstorming. I want to say that I would have wanted to know that my husband was straying from the second it happened, but in truth part of me hangs onto those months when I didn't know, when I thought my marriage was still intact. I want to say that honesty trumps everything and that no one deserves to be lied to, especially since I've experienced first hand how much it sucks. On the other hand, maybe ignorance is bliss. 

Who are we accountable to, for our lies, though? Our family? Our friends? What about people we don't know? Do we have to be honest with them, too? Do we owe truthfulness to everyone or just to a select few?

But but thing our pastor said is sticking with me. He said that telling the truth is making that lie a part of your past, while not telling the truth is making it a part of your future. That makes sense to me, and it doesn't really differentiate between what kind of lie you're telling. I guess what it comes down to is telling the truth, but telling the truth in love as much as humanly possible. And being human is the point, I think. We all screw up, we all make mistakes, and most of us cover those mistakes up at one point or another. We do stupid things. What we do to strive to hold ourselves to a higher standard is what matters I we try overcome our sinful natures. 

Pride, too, comes right along with lies. I think we lie because we're proud, some of the time, and that once we've made a stand, made a choice, if you will, we'll lie to ourselves and everyone else just to stick to that decision so that we can hold onto that pride. 

I want to hear from all of you. What do you think about lying? Are white lies okay? Is ignorance really bliss? Is lying just something we all do in order to get what we want in life, whether that's a better job or time to ourselves or just to avoid conflict?

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