We suppose it was rooted in Jeanie’s willingness to lie to herself, in her automatically saying “I’ll get around to it” when, in an unexamined place within her heart, she had no intention of doing any such thing. Once, when her mother found out that she liked jazz and exclaimed “How could you?!” Jeanie acted as if jazz were an unwanted baby that had been dumped on her doorstep and lied “I only tell people that.” We all learned to not take her replies at face value since it was clear that by lying for so long she really had no idea what she liked or believed or wanted! It didn’t really bother any of us because we liked her, but inside herself it must have been like living with someone who didn’t pay rent and yet refused to leave. She had no idea about how to get rid of the chronic confusion that she felt!
Choices that we make have consequences, and when we lie we become the first victim of our lies; if we do it often enough we can get lost within the lies needed to be told in order to cover up the lies that we have told. The worst part is not so much that others learn to not believe us… although that can certainly complicate relationships… but that we learn to not trust our thoughts or feelings. And in that… we become exiles from our own heart.
The experience of being an exile from oneself is that of never belonging, of being not-worthy, of not being essential. Since these feelings are something that most of us do not wish to dwell upon… we shop. We drink. We rush into cocaine’s oblivious embrace. We indulge in sex without relationship. We become dedicated “Collectors.” So many ways of stuffing things into that massive hole at the center of ourselves which never seems to fill ! And happiness eludes us. Who would have ever thought that this is the fruit of lying?!
Lying can simply be a habit, or it can be a deliberate avoidance. The problem is that what we run from becomes what pursues us, and this is as true of Truth as it is of the neighbor’s dog. Eventually, Truth demands our acknowledgement. The trick is to stop running, to catch ourselves in the midst of spinning our next cover-up, and to say, “Wait! No, that’s not what I meant to say.” Even in mid-lie we can still change direction and head more towards the truth! Unless we start catching ourselves in our lies our life will be like starting out for Miami and winding up in Chicago, having no idea how we got there!