When I was in the first grade ALL the popular kids seemed to be on either a baseball or softball team. I never was though. My parents were never the ‘involved’ type. The only time I was signed up for an extracurricular activity in grade school was a brief stint with a scouting troop which lasted about three meetings (I still have one of the projects I made at one of the meetings; realizing now how much it meant to me then). So as kids at school bragged about their teams, their practices and their games I was left wishing that I could be a part of it all. So I decided I would be. I told people that I was on a made up team with a made up coach which practiced at a made up location and we could win whenever I wanted! I could even score a winning run! Every afternoon I would grab my brother’s bat, glove and ball and even tell my parents I was going to practice (funny that they never questioned exactly where I was going). Basically I would hide out behind the apartment buildings where we lived and talk to myself for an hour or so every day until it got dark then I would go back home. When I got tired of doing this, I went home one day and thought I could get a little sympathy by announcing “I’ve been kicked off the team!” It didn’t work. No one was outraged at my mistreatment so my imaginary coach wouldn’t get an earful from my upset parent. Probably a good thing; not sure how I would have explained that one if I had been forced to. Regardless, the point is that I knew how to lie.
From very early I learned that lying can fix things. Lying could get me out of trouble, out of doing things I didn’t want to do, explaining why I didn’t do things I was supposed to do and could even make me appear more important than I was. Lying could explain away bruises, torn clothes, why I couldn’t attend a party or go over to a friend’s house. Later, lying explained missing alcohol from my parent’s liquor cabinet, it got me out of paying bills, owning up to responsibilities, being to school on time, being to school at all, quitting jobs, explaining the loss of a job. Mostly lying could keep me from looking stupid.
Nearly every day of my life until I was about fourteen, I was told in one fashion or another that I was stupid. The result was to protect myself in any way possible; including lying. I wanted people to like me and was afraid that if they thought I was stupid, like others in my life did, they wouldn’t accept me. So if they thought I had more than I did, had traveled more, knew certain people, experienced certain things then they would simply like me. If I played the victim they would feel sorry for me and it would excuse my ignorance. Eventually I just wanted to be the person that I had set out to be but the only way that I knew how to do that was to lie.
Lying is deceptive in more ways than one. Certainly there are the obvious repercussions; hurting others, losing trust but it also forces us to deceive ourselves into thinking that it will have positive long term effects. While all of my lies may never have been discovered, the guilt of having told them has been punishing in and of itself.
“The LORD hates every liar, but He is the friend of all who can be trusted.” Proverbs 12:22
The Lord HATES me?? I had already suspected this because of the life I had been given but there it was in black and white. I lied. The Lord hates liars. Conclusion: God hates me! It was almost unbearable. I didn’t know what to do. I was saved but confused on how to ‘fix’ what I had done.
“Honesty can keep you safe, but if you can’t be trusted, you trap yourself.” Proverbs 11:6
Trapped. That’s exactly what I felt. I was embarrassed by the truth of my life and embarrassed that I had lied to anyone; which meant almost everyone.
“If we admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all.” 1 John 1:9
That’s it? All I had to do was confess to Him and He would forgive me? I had done that. Every time I lied, the guilt would inevitably debilitate me and I would confess. So why did I still FEEL guilty? Why did I still FEEL like a loser? It’s hard to accept forgiveness. It’s hard to accept that whatever we’ve done that has pained us for so long, plagued our thoughts, burdened our heart could just be written off and…forgiven. It’s also difficult to accept unconditional love especially if you’ve never experienced it but that’s what the Bible tells us to do. Once we are forgiven, that’s it. The deed has been erased and we can let go of it. We don’t have to hold on to the hurt, the worry, weight of it. Jesus reaches out and says “Let go. I’ve got this.” We don’t have to keep going back asking for forgiveness over and over. We don’t have to bring it up again next week or fear that He’s keeping a tally. We are FORGIVEN. God doesn’t want us to be chained to our sins after we’ve turned them over to Christ. There may be consequences in our lives because of our lies but according to what God tells us (and I don’t dare call God a liar) “the Lord, our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him.” Daniel 9:9
I have to stop and say “Thank you Lord for your love and mercy; thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ to bear the punishment for my sins; my lies. Thank you for your Word that assures me that I should never rely on my feelings to equate forgiveness; that you have that taken care of the moment I release it to you. In Jesus Christ – Amen.”
Are you holding on to sin? Are you struggling with not FEELING forgiven? Are you hanging on and punishing yourself for something that you’ve done? Don’t play a tug of war. Jesus is right there, holding out His nail scared hands saying “let me have this.” It’s up to you to release it to Him.