When I was about six years old, I desperately wanted a pair of glasses. And not just any glasses, I wanted the “cat eye” framed glasses that were so popular at the time. My older sister had a pair and so did Susan Breneke, who I thought was the coolest kid in the entire first grade. I wanted those glasses so badly that I actually lied to my mother, telling her that far-away objects looked kind of fuzzy to me. (My sister had described her vision problems to me in detail, so I knew just what to say.) Unfortunately, my mom didn’t rush out and buy me a pair of glasses, which is what I thought would happen. She took me for an eye exam, and I passed with flying colors. I never did get those glasses.
I’m an adult now, and I no longer believe it telling lies to get what I want. But there are still times when I think it would be easier to lie than tell the truth, and sometimes I struggle with being completely honest.
For example, I may want to tell a lie in order to spare a person’s feelings. I know that people do that for me now and then. When my husband and I are getting ready to go out, I’ll often ask his opinion of my outfit, sometimes even uttering the dreaded question, “Does this make me look fat?” The closest he’s ever come to saying yes was the time I had just bought a new dress with lots of pleats at the waist and he asked me, “Have you seen the back view?” Which was his subtle way of letting me know it made my butt look bigger than Cleveland.
Other times, I’ll hedge a little bit on my honest opinion when I’m talking to someone I know holds completely different views from me on a sensitive subject. I’ve seen so many people become deeply offended, or even enraged, when someone dares to disagree with them that I’ve become a little too cautious in my responses. There are times when telling the truth is harder than it sounds.
But I also know that I want to live my life as honestly and openly as I possibly can, and that means that I need to tell the truth about who I am and what I believe. I need to accept the risk that there are going to be people who don’t like what I say or do, and that the loss of those relationships will probably sting, at least for awhile. But the fear of rejection doesn’t outweigh the value of being true to my real self.
Like my husband, I need to always temper honesty with tact and sensitivity. Honesty is never an excuse to run roughshod over someone’s feelings. But handled correctly, telling the truth is actually easiest in the long run. I don’t have to worry about keeping track of any little white lies I may have told if I always give an honest answer to a direct question. If I admit to the many embarrassing things I have done in my life, there’s no need to worry about anyone “discovering” them.
And best of all, when I am honest with my friends and family, I know that those who stay in relationship with me like me for who I really am. Any way you look at it, honesty really is the best policy.