When Frank was a toddler he tried it a few times. It was in the realm of “No, I didn’t pull the cat’s tail” and “I don’t know who ate all the candy” in those days, but from the onset of the effort, I knew I was not going to raise a liar. Even a small cat tail, candy sneaker liar.
There in the little album his children’s pastor had made of memory verses was this. “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth. Proverbs 12:22.” Both had hear Bible stories their whole life, but this was perhaps the very first verse I taught both of my kids. Maybe I should have started with a different memory verse, something softer, more grace filled. But at the end of the day, it is vitally important to me that they understand this…The Kinzers are truth tellers.
I had Frank repeat it back to me over and over whenever I caught him in a lie. He quickly gave up the attempts at lying as a toddler. He was unashamedly honest for years to follow. He took this truth telling quite seriously. And living life as the parent of an adamant truth teller…well, let’s just say, if you say you were late because of car trouble, you better go yank out some sort of nonessential bit of your car, because as I pointed out above, the Kinzers are truth tellers, and now we had a little pair of eyes to really keep us honest.
I have never really been much of a liar. Sure there were a few times I can point to in my childhood, but I also remember the accompanying sickness I felt when I did lie. Frank and Molly have each had their moments where I must turn to them and say “What did you just do?” and they inevitably say “I lied.” And in those moments they reflect what we’ve taught them.
1. Do something wrong, get in trouble once. Do something wrong and lie about it, get in trouble twice.
2. God hates lying lips, and so does Mama.
3. A well crafted truth intended to deceive is the same as a lie.
4. Come clean and tell the truth and we can work out the problem.
The thing that frustrates me is that we spend all this time trying to teach our kids not to lie, and then we live in a society full of adult liars. Or listening to people wonder what’s going on with their kids lying to them, when you know full well that they themselves have no trouble lying to others. It’s even the most frustrating part of watching tv. They use lies as a plot device and it’s so obvious that it’s going to cause a big mess, and yet the characters do it.
And furthermore, it is of greater annoyance when people can’t grasp the concept that to speak love without truth is a lie, but to speak truth without love is no truth at all.
Here is a bit of truth this cold November night. If you lie, so will your kids. If you lie, things will go badly. If you lie, you turn yourself into a buffoon, because the truth will out and you will be held in account.
This may not be the finest thing I’ve ever written, but these are tonight’s thoughts.
Tell the truth. Just tell the truth.