I grew up with the idea that lying is bad. In most cases at least. I found out the hard way that telling Aunt Marie that her holiday gelatin mold was, well…. off-putting, was not the time to tell the truth. Of course, I was somewhere around six or seven and “off-putting” was not the phrase I used.
Outdated recipes aside, for the most part, honesty is the best way to go. It is the way to build lasting relationships, whether they be romantic, platonic, or business.
Lying by omission can be a problematic loophole as well. No one wants to find out that their new love interest is allergic to cats after you take them home and their eyes swell shut.
We’re almost always better off telling the truth.
But sometimes, it can be scary to reveal the truth. Especially if it is something that goes against what we think is a social norm.
We want to be liked and we want to fit in. It’s in our nature. So if we know that we are different, it can be easier to just nod our heads and change the subject. Even if it isn’t our truth.
I’m not exactly sure when I knew I was no longer a Christian. There was no great epiphany; my belief just sort of faded away, one little thing at a time. The stories of the Bible didn’t make a lot of logical sense, and when I asked about them, I was told they were just stories to teach us lessons.
Why did God answer my prayer for a My Little Pony, but not for my sick kitten? Well, he works in mysterious ways. It wasn’t long after that mysterious turned into non-existent. The reaction I received when I expressed my non-belief was much worse than telling Aunt Marie that her dessert was awful. Although both of those things were true, insulting Aunt Marie didn’t come with a sentence of eternal suffering in the fires of hell.
So I lied. And boy did I lie. To friends, to family, new acquaintances. And I can’t say I felt all that bad about it.
Anytime the question came up, I said I was a Christian. But there came a point where it just felt disingenuous. Like a bra with too much padding, it became uncomfortable. Why am I hiding such a simple thing as not believing? It wasn’t like when I was a kid and most of the people I knew went to church. In fact, by the time I was a teenager I knew very few that did.
So one day, I said “No. I’m not a Christian.”
And…it felt great.
I stripped off the goofy façade, and bore it all. As a very wise cartoon sailor once said, “I yam, what I yam.”
And nothing catastrophic happened. No big deal. In fact, sometimes there was a sigh of relief on the other side of the conversation. I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had been glossing over this subject.
A recent poll shows that religious affiliation has been on the decline. And, it made me wonder if I had been one of the ones who had been previously counted as a Christian while not actually being one? And then it made me wonder how many other people had been checking that box inaccurately. Probably quite a few.
Here’s the thing: although I was admonished for my rude comment about the Jello thing, Aunt Marie wasn’t really upset by it. And I never had to pretend to like it again. Which made my holidays that much more enjoyable.
Far beyond horrendous gelatin molds, I wonder how much happier we all would be if we were honest with ourselves and not afraid to be the same with those around us.