How often do we give an instruction to a child, our child or someone else’s child that we have influence over, that in actuality we do not follow ourselves? I was raised by two Christian parents. Married for over 35 years before they both passed away. They never divorced although they had plenty of reasons that would have satisfied most anyone’s curiosity and conviction as to a justifiable divorce. They stayed true to their vows, at least that is what everyone thought that sat at their funerals, separated by only a matter of months. Many good memories, anecdotes and accolades were shared as guests, friends, family and co-workers, reminisced about each of them at their perspective memorial service.
I sat their listening at my mother’s funeral with tears pouring down my cheeks brought on by the memory of who she was to them, of who I wished she had been for me. Believe me, I loved my mother. I longed for many more years with her. I felt cheated out of time I assumed I would have with her and only her when my father passed. The biggest problem lay in the fact that she passed first and far too soon. The memories shared expressed who my heart knew my mother was, the love she had to give, the attention and generosity of time, talent and compassion. The unconditional understanding she had for those around her. I knew that is who she was, had always known this. And yet, the thought kept creeping into my mind again and again although I tried to brush it off, that they didn’t know her, not all of her.
I sat at my father’s memorial and listened as people spoke about him and the ways he had touched their lives. Most if not all commending him for his tenacious spirit that never quit even under the weight of many health set backs year after year that were debilitating, life changing and never-ending. And all I could think as I sat there was, that they didn’t know him. Not how I knew him.
Even before Facebook my family, like many others I am sure, had mastered the art of putting on a good face. Posting only the happy moments of our life for all to see. Anything else, anything disparaging, anything questionable, of poor taste, that would leave a sour taste in your mouth or worse yet make you vomit, was hidden, left unsaid. On any given Sunday we would dawn our best, put on our freshly shined fake patent leather shoes, and walk into church, mom and dad hand in hand, each of us kids with a smile or at least a smirk on our faces. I should probably note (and commend) my older brothers that there did come a time that they finally refused this ruse. Our parents swayed and allowed them to stay home rather than stir the pot and cause a scene at church. Although I never went to work with my parents, I can imagine the conversations between them and their co-workers as they shared tales of their families. Oh, the webs they must have woven, beautiful and intricate in design to show off the cohesive and loving family they created with their own words.
As a child I was told a magnitude of times enduring countless hours of church, Christian school and conversations at home, to tell the truth.
Thou shalt not lie.
Put on the full armor of God……Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist….
You shall not give false testimony [lie] against your neighbor.
For the Lord your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals with dishonesty.
The truth shall set you free!
Just tell the truth, you will feel better if you do.
Tell the truth…. We may be disappointed but if you lie you will be sinning.
Confession is good for the soul.
On, and on, the teaching went. Tell the truth. And yet, as I sit here and reflect as I have done over and over again, so much of my upbringing and years of my first marriage were nothing more than lies. Outright lies. I was lied to. I was lied about. I listened as lies were told. I listened as my family was told by their Pastor to lie. I listened as the truth was withheld in order to protect the family, the church, anyone they deemed in need of protection by those lies, themselves. I told lies to protect them, him, my daughter, me. I lied to be who others wanted, expected me to be. They taught me well.
Tell the truth, just not about this.
Tell the truth, just not now.
Tell the truth, about other things.
This truth would be better left unsaid.
Confess your sins, but do it in private.
Be honest in everything, except the things that are embarrassing, will hurt the church, will affect yours and our reputation.
Tell the truth….some other time.
Do as I Do, Not as I Say, Tell the truth, Just not today.