I am a liar. If I were to say I have one serious character flaw it would be lying. I don’t lie about huge things. No, white lies are my problem. Saying I have plans to do something so I don’t hurt feelings or saying I am one place so as not to let on that I am actually wasting time somewhere else. I lie. I am getting better, but I still lie.
It is really an annoying habit. Sometimes I don’t think about it even, it just happens. But most of the time it’s not a problem. No one knows what I am actually doing, or that I am actually dodging a social engagement. No one really calls me on it most of the time.
Obnoxiously however, sometimes God does. I realized that one night last summer.
That summer, I worked at Sonic making minimum wage and longing for the random tips that came with car-hopping. One night when I was getting off of work I made me a cup of ice cream to take home with me. This was the custom. Everyone would make themselves their favorite treat before clocking out though that was officially against policy.
I was on my way out the door after a long afternoon, my ice cream in hand when my manager asked, “Coleman, did you pay for that?” I turned and without thinking said, “Oh this was a cup that I messed up earlier and I am just taking home with me rather than throw it away.”
“Okay,” he said and let it go. I walked out to my car, sat inside with Logan and felt awful. I felt worse and worse the further toward home I drove.
A friend of mine once told me a story about lying. He had forgotten to fill out his scholarship application for the next semester of school. He was past deadline and was going to loose his scholarship.
He walking into the scholarship office and talked to the secretary asking, “Why didn’t I get my scholarship for next semester?” She looked through her computer and said, “I am sorry, it appears you haven’t turned in your application.” He explained to her that there must be some mistake, because he had turned it in. She apologized, saying that she must have misplaced it. She told him that she would fix the problem if he filled out a new application.
He told me that he walked out of the office feeling terrible. He had lied, and put guilt on this poor woman who had done nothing but her job. He went back with tears and told her that he had lied, he never filled out the application and that he was very sorry.
When he told me that story I thought it was a little ridiculous that he was so overwhelmed with guilt for that lie. It was a small lie that was harmless and he was going to end up getting his scholarship. That small lie was going to get him thousands of dollars in scholarships, so it was somehow okay. But as I sat with a two dollar cup of ice cream in my hand, I sort of understood what he must have felt like. I had sold out, for a cup of ice cream.
I had to go back. I had to tell the truth. I had to explain what I had done. I wasn’t happy about it. I didn’t want to do it. I realized that this was a lie without consequence. It wouldn’t matter to anyone. I was already home, and I am sure that everyone at Sonic had forgotten it already. But I needed to go back.
I didn’t know what that was going to be like. My manager might have looked at me and would be totally justified in saying, “You stole from the store. You are fired.” More than that, what was I going to say? I thought about just walking in and saying I found two dollars on the side walk so that way the debt would be balanced and I would never have to actually tell anyone that I lied.
Telling the truth is much harder after you’ve already lied.
I was mad and upset. I cried a little. Finally, I walked into the store. I walked up to my manager and told him the truth, honestly. Of course this was at the only dead time of the evening, so everyone saw and my lie was a spectacle.
My manager looked at me a bit confused. I am sure it was the same expression that I had given my friend as he told me the story of his scholarship lie. “Dude, it’s not a big deal,” he said.
I paid for the ice cream, left the store, went home and processed everything that had happened. When I think of low points in my life, this story comes to mind every time. I remember sitting in my car, feeling awful and just looking down at a cup of ice cream.
I am getting better at honesty. It gets me in more trouble now than it used to, but it is a better way to live.