I remember the first time I told a lie. I didn’t actually tell a lie. I just omitted the truth. I was in a dime store in the candy aisle with one of my older sisters. She had money and I did not. She chose something to buy, but I could not. Instead, I longingly looked at the display of gumballs. Then, without thinking twice, I slipped a purple gumball into my pocket and followed my sister as she got in line to pay for her gum. She put her item on the counter, while I kept my hands in my pocket and my eyes on the floor. Then I followed her out of the store.
I never told anyone about stealing that purple gumball. When I got home, I wrapped it up in toilet paper and threw it in the kitchen garbage. At the tender age of eight, I felt so miserable for what I’d done that I was never tempted to steal again.
Never Tell a Lie
The good thing about that childhood experience was how stealing made me feel. I felt absolutely horrid, sick to my stomach, and above all, guilty. Though I knew stealing was wrong, the urge to have that purple gumball as my own overtook me. I did not think of the consequences until after it was in my possession. Going through the checkout line in the store, I actually prayed I wouldn’t get caught. Once I was free and clear of the store I thought I’d be relieved and ready to enjoy the sweetness of the candy. But I only wanted to rid myself of that gumball because of how it made me feel; sorry that I’d nabbed it in the first place.
I still remember that childhood experience because I never forgot how it felt to be untruthful with myself. Not only did I lie by omission, but I lied to myself about being a thief. I was never made to steal, even a little gumball.
None of us are made to be liars. Lying makes us feel dishonest. It’s supposed to. But if we make lying a habit, those awful feelings lose their effect on us. If lying becomes the norm for our lives, then truthfulness might begin to feel awkward to us.
As young as I was and as small as that gumball was, stealing that little thing left a very big impression on me for the rest of my life. Being truthful with me about me is the only way I can go.
Why bother being truthful? It’s been said that the truth will set you free, but first it makes you miserable. I say without feeling the misery, we don’t have a chance of being set free.