Is there ever a good time to tell a lie?
Can lying ever be for the good of those who surround you?
The terrible thing about lies is that you have to have a very good memory to remember who you told the lie to, and why it was important to lie in the first place. For the most part I have always felt that honesty really was the best policy. Of course there are times when you have to be aware that the truth may well hurt another, and so there is an element of gentle care to be offered in the words that will take you to the uttering of the truth.
There are of course times when not telling the truth can seem the only option as you try to protect people. These occasions are never comfortable, for there is the knowledge that eventually the truth will be revealed. Then at the moment of revelation, there needs to be the hope that there is understanding about why the untruth was needed.
The hardest part of lies is when you find that you were party to a lie without your knowledge, and then the truth is revealed. All depends on why the lie was told, but when it happens as an abuse of friendship, there can be hurt. Hurt that you were not trusted to hold confidence. Hurt that you were the cover without your knowledge. Hurt in the revelation as you re-evaluate what you thought was a good relationship, and try to move to a new understanding of a personality.
Nietzsche said, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
Lies change the landscape of our understanding of someone we thought we knew, and in the aftermath of the lie there is negotiation of a friendship or relationship. Of course that negotiation can only take place if either party is prepared to talk to the other.
Is there ever a good time to tell a lie?
Probably not. However they will always be part of the web of relationships we weave. Some will be told because the protect the person they are told about, and some will be told to protect the liar. Some hurt more than others. But once they happen the only option is to move on, and see the world in the new perspective.
In the week after preaching, and often while trying to pick through items for the following week, there is some time spent reflecting on the highs and lows of the previous experience. In the latter years of the old place of being minister I found it more and more difficult to deal with the texts about healing, as I stood looking at those in the congregation at various stages of illness. That unease has not eased in a new place for while I am still getting to know people, there is no reason to suppose this group is more healthy than another.
Health and healing raise questions at least for me, as the texts of miraculous healings appear. How do we preach them credibly when for us these miraculous acts are not everyday occurrences?
I don’t come to this question without a knowledge of ill-health. Just over 19 years ago in the midst of university finals and preparing for marriage, I found myself struggling to breathe easily or to walk any distance. Eventually I gave in and went to the doctor. They sent me to accident and emergency, where I was admitted with a deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary emboli. After a frightening stay in hospital where it looked like I might not go home, I was allowed home. In the months that followed I would discover that I carry an unusual blood disorder and that I would have to learn to manage my own health. For the past 19 years for the most part I have done that, with interesting moments at childbirth and if I’ve accidentally had an open wound.
So my discomfort with healing is not that it does not happen, but that it does not happen and return us to a previous state but instead to a new state. However in the midst of being seriously ill who wants to hear you will be healed but perhaps not to the whole you were before?
My tactic has often been to look at what lies around the healing for clues of what we become in Christ. Being “well” is emotionally and spiritually to a place where we trust that everything we are and experience lies within God’s care. Yet I still feel that what the text says does not get the airing it deserves.
Oh well, this week we face justice and I’m sure that will be a different struggle.
A couple of posts back I mentioned I had lost a pair of trousers. After weeks of searching, I had got to the point where I was going to have to accept that they were gone, and buy a new pair. Frustrating as this particular pair were the pair I happened to like the most and could happily wear to most occasions where I didn’t need to wear a suit.
Just over a week ago, I had one last frantic and concerted effort to look through the ironing basket to ensure they were absolutely not there. Sitting on the floor in the wardrobe (yes, it is that big) I had pulled every item out of the basket and reaching the bottom of endless shirts had seen no sign of a navy pair of trousers. I squished everything back into the basket, and turned to look at the shelves and see if I had an alternative pair of trousers as I didn’t want to wear a suit. (I don’t really do skirts or dresses for every day, and I’m not really that keen for posh outings).
As I pulled what I though was the top pair of black trousers, something navy blue fell to the floor. My heart skipped, for here were the lost trousers. I had looked here in a number of occasions before and am absolutely certain that they were not there previously.
However for those who have been offering prayers for trousers to be found, thank you. I appreciate your concern, but will let you turn your minds to higher matters. To the elf who had maybe accidentally placed them in the wrong place and then returned them surreptitiously, I am relieved that you found them at all.
The pennies are safe for another month, although I could do with a new pair a shoes that go with suits, trousers and skirts as last year’s pair are showing signs of soles being worn through.
We’re midway through the school holiday and the end of my holiday before the other half becomes lead parent for the second week. With all of us around the house this afternoon it seemed a good opportunity to head to the pictures.
(As I typed that I realised there is a whole discussion on what people call going to the cinema. I’ve always gone “to the pictures”, my youngest sister goes “to the film”, while my children go “to the movies”. For all of us it’s the same activity, but how we describe it speaks of the time we were growing up and the people we were friendly with.)
Anyway back to our outing…
To save some money I visited a supermarket reward scheme and used some points to buy two adult tickets for the afternoon. Then returned to the cinema website paid for the four tickets. Who knew there was now a “teen” ticket?
At the appointed time we set off from our home, with some excited people – not the female contingent. Occasionally I think we don’t go out much, given how excited some people were. Some adults were pre-warned that should they start singing during the film, the rest of us would move to the other side of the theatre.
As we took our seats in the cinema, looking around it looked like our children were the youngest people in the room. The age profile of those who had come to see the film had us wonder if we had accidentally gate-crashed pensioners’ time. We didn’t let that worry us. Instead we sat back to remember that life really is a musical, you just have to find your song and for someone in our party these were his.
So “Sunshine on Leith”… It’s good if you like Proclaimers songs, views of Edinburgh and a bit of a greet. The story is not bad, difficult to explain to a 9 year old within the cinema, but has some good Scottish pathos running through it. All in our party, even “the asker of many questions and I’m a bit bored part way through” left saying they had enjoyed it, and would happily watch it again.
Just don’t go expecting Hollywood – notice the title of the film…and the beauty of my home town.