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'LIAR' ... WHO, ME??
It can be pretty tempting to judge other people sometimes. Many of us may label others a particular way, with or without realizing what we're doing. But worst of all, we may end up labeling ourselves. I think the opposite of judging is authenticity. When we judge or label ourselves or others, we're not being authentic, real—nor seeing the genuine nature of a person.
Throughout my childhood, and up to my sophomore year in high school, I used to lie about practically everything. Sometimes without even knowing it, I'd lie about what I'd been doing, where I really had been, or even the things I was going to do. At first it started with "innocent" white lies. My mom would ask if I'd done my homework, and I'd say yes when really I hadn't. Then it turned into a game for me: a competition between my lying skills and my mom's ability to discern the truth. I'd make up excuses and try to avoid her questions.
When my mom sensed that I wasn't being truthful, she would always say that God, Truth, would reveal what was really going on. (My mother and others did realize some of what was going on.) Then the lies began to feel like a competition with God, Truth itself. During times when I wasn't allowed to e-mail, call, or hang out with my boyfriend, I would try to find a way where I could still use my computer for homework and then talk to him over instant messaging.
After a few years of this—and many months of groundings when I would be found out—my tendency to lie won out. I labeled myself as a liar. I found myself constantly telling lies, trying to hide problems I was dealing with and things I was doing (like finding ways to talk to people I wasn't allowed to when I was grounded from using e-mail, Facebook, and the phone).
I was still practicing Christian Science in other areas of my life, but even when I was praying with a Christian Science practitioner about different issues, I wouldn't tell my true feelings, and I would withhold helpful information, even when I really could have used prayerful support.
It made sense that I wasn't always successful—there were always things that I wouldn't get away with, for which I would be grounded. But the "liar" label just felt like it was stuck to me. The made-up stories never altered, my face never flinched, and the truth repeatedly didn't come out.
Then, reading the Christian Science Bible Lesson one day, I ran across a passage my mother had pointed me to many times before, but which I'd never taken into account. I was familiar with the words, but they hadn't changed my thought, my actions, my behavior, or my habit. The passage was this one from Science and Health: "... if the sinner continues to pray and repent, sin and be sorry, he has little part in the atonement,—in the at-one-ment with God,—for he lacks the practical repentance, which reforms the heart and enables man to do the will of wisdom" (p. 19).
When I read the passage this time, a light came on in my thought, and I finally realized that God never made me a liar. I wasn't a mortal who lied. After I had made lying into a competition between me, my mom, and even God, I began to think that it was really a part of who I was. But thanks to much prayer and support from my parents and a practitioner, I found out that day—just between God and me—that, in truth, I was and am an honest child of God, Truth's reflection. I was able to take my stand at that moment, as I saw that I was honest and truthful.
I apologized to my mom, promising to behave truthfully from then on. It felt like I had torn off that lying label from the "jar" of my thought, and the glass behind it was clear. After tearing off this label, I not only could see myself better, but I became more transparent to those around me. I no longer had to worry about being caught or think so craftily about what I said to my parents (so that my stories wouldn't conflict).
I finally realized that I wasn't actually a liar.
The cool part about this realization was that I simply lost the feeling that I had to lie. I became more obedient. It was no longer a question of telling the truth versus telling a lie, because there was no reason to lie! When my parents asked me not to do things, I didn't do them. When I was grounded (which became rare), I didn't try to find loopholes around what I couldn't do. I became more receptive of God's direction, and more willing to follow His plan.
We may often feel like we have labels all over ourselves. Through prayer, though, I've learned labels are for jars, not for me. Our labels can be peeled off. We may need to work at the sticky stuff left behind, if the label has been there a while, but slowly and surely we'll be able to see clearly, 360 degrees around. |css
About the author
Ann Sebring is a freshman at Principia College. She is involved in many activities and is double majoring in education and art.
with contributions from PATRICIA EDWARDS, BARBARA LEE MCNABB, JANET MCCONNELL, HEATHER VASEFF
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