White lies, we all tell 'em. Or do we? Ten years ago, I was living in London and working as a manger in a swanky Notting Hill restaurant. I was up to my eyes in cocaine and alcohol and lying became part of the job—it didn't have to be, but being an addict is a secretive life. Whether it was lying to my dealer, my boss and staff, or my closest friends, I didn't think of it as anything earth-shattering. After a prolonged period it became almost like a game, how much deception can I juggle before I get caught out? Well, I got busted more times than I can remember.
After relocating to Paris, France, and having to rebuild my life from the myriad of lies it had become, I had to face some hard truths. I found my life in a Christian community that was totally honest. No really, the type of people who have no problem telling you that you are maybe getting a little too big for your boots—all in the nicest possible way, of course. I decided that if I was honest, 100%, with no wiggle room for even the whitest of lies, I wouldn't have to pretend anymore. I could just be me. After getting divorced, and having been deceitful in that marriage, starting into a serious relationship again was terrifying. I remember the day I was with my future wife and we were taking a train ride for one stop—literally a thirty second ride—and I told her I had her ticket covered.
[An aside here: I live in the Parisian suburbs and Paris is famous for people not paying for metro or train tickets, it's almost like a badge of honour! There is little in the way of conductors controlling the trains and most of the time the gamble pays off with a free ride. Any time I have seen a controller hand a fine to someone, they have usually been met with a barrage of French swear words and wild gesticulation of hands as if the controller has insulted the ticketless person's mother. The downside to this is poor infrastructure due to lack of money and a general smell of booze, pee, and cigarettes most everywhere you go. In comparison to London, well, there is no comparison.]
So I breeze on through the gate with my future bride and she asks me about her ticket, I have a pass that I pay for monthly so I tell her I have her “covered.” (Suave, huh?) After descending the steps to the platform I see a gaggle of conductors on the same platform. Oops! I inform my lovely that it's best if we skedaddle to the end of the train as they won't have even come close to working their way down the train by the time we get off. My lovely isn't too impressed. We get off at the stop and I play it down. And it is then that I get schooled on just how much humble honesty this woman I aim to marry has. The one word the came up the most was integrous. In the beginning I thought it was being bandied around just to make me feel bad for doing something everyone else does, “It's only one stop, after all.” I don't think I learned a whole lot that day. It's since then that I have had another viewpoint of life completely unveiled for me. If my wife parks somewhere and there is a meter, she will pay for a ticket. Even if there is twenty-five minutes remaining until it is free and in a remote area where there's not a snowball's chance in lucifer's playground of her being caught, she'll still buy a ticket. I'm not joking, it drove me nuts in the beginning. How goody-two-shoes can you be?
Over time I have learned just how solid my wife is, in everything. Solid! If there is anything on my mind or if her friends need something, she is there. And I mean totally there. We are talking integrity on a scale I have never known in another human. Just unwavering! Through all of this I have used it to reflect on the amount of times that I have said or promised something to a friend, my kids, or my family, with absolutely no intention of ever following through. The sad thing is, it is kind of accepted in our world. Our hollow promises or white lies let people down and usually they don't hold it against us because they do the same. Words lose power after repeated dishonest behaviour, but the power than can be wielded with truth and integrity can change lives and build unbreakable foundations in a community. I feel valued and loved when I am surrounded by people who are true to their word. For years, I subscribed to the myth that “It's only a white lie,” or “I didn't want to hurt his/her feelings,” or even, “I didn't have the heart to tell him/her the truth.” What does that say about us if we believe that lying to someone is better for them? For me, it became more than a habit, it was a way of life. There are still times when I want to take the soft route and squeeze in a little cushion of dishonesty to break someone's fall. Ultimately, though, I am neither helping them nor myself, even if it means having to spend more money on train tickets and parking.
So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.