“Do you think I’d be a good mediator?”
She waited for my response as I secretly daydreamed I had the ability to make myself disappear.
Jill recently obtained her Master’s in Psychology and a few months ago she started to take the additional requirements needed to become a certified mediator within the court system. She is incredibly intelligent and has a variety of impressive skills, however, I never thought negotiation and patience were her strong suits. If I’m being honest, I thought she’d make a terrible mediator. Every time Jill has a conflict with someone she completely shuts down. I couldn’t think of a worse career choice. But it’s not my life, and she’s only a month away from obtaining certification. Not to mention, I doubt she’s even looking for an honest response from me. It’s like asking my husband if I look fat in my dress; she expects me to flatter her.
Everything in me wanted to lie. I didn’t want to deal with the awkward confrontation. I wanted to reaffirm and encourage her by saying “Yes, Jill! Of course you’ll be a great mediator. You’ll be great at whatever you do!” That’s always been my answer when faced with this type of scenario. I’m a motivator, a cheerleader; it’s just what I do.
Typically, I would tell my loved ones exactly what they wanted to hear in an attempt to lift their spirits. But something happened when I opened my mouth to offer her my usual cheerful response. This time I felt the Holy Spirit give me a little nudge as if to maybe say “Hey, Jess, I gave you the gift of encouragement, but I never intended you to edify at the sake of being honest.” And so, I struggled within myself to remain truthful, while still offering Jill a few kind words.
“You know what?” I said enthusiastically, “I’ve always thought you’d make an excellent party planner.”
“A party planner?” Jill wrinkled her eyebrows and titled her head a bit and then continued. “That’s random to say. I’m about to become certified in mediation and you think I should become a party planner?”
I anxiously held my breath for a moment hoping she didn’t recognize my feeble attempt to dodge her question by distracting her with flattery.
“You just have the kind of personality where people are drawn to you. You’re the life of the party. Come on, you know that! How awesome was your wedding!?! You have an eye for detail and I tell ya, you’re a born leader.”
I meant every single word I had just said. However, my sole purpose of showering her with compliments was to change the direction of our conversation and skirt her original question. For the next couple of moments we stared directly into one another’s eyes as if we were squaring off as I anxiously tried to discern whether or not she could somehow hear my inner dialogue. And then, when it seemed as though eternity had passed, she broke the silence.
“Man, I did have a great wedding, didn’t I? And I do throw one heck of a party!” she said smiling rather confidently.
Lucky for me the conversation brought us both down memory lane and afterward we focused our attention on how cute our sons were as they played together in the park.
Later that day, I thought about how I handled the situation and how often I rationalize lying to other people. Whether it’s because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or because I want to tell a good story and I feel it needs a bit of exaggeration in order to really be interesting, I’ve made breaking one of God’s commandments into quite a casual affair.
With very little regard, I had even convinced myself that it wasn’t really lying, just simply stretching the truth. For some reason, “stretching the truth” feels much more acceptable, as if I’m only a little bit wrong. One thing’s for sure, being honest when you’re the kind of girl that wants the whole world to like you is not an easy task. But it’s one area in which I must persevere.
The Holy Spirit put the truth on my heart: lying, even when I have pure intentions, is still against God’s will for me. When I choose to do it, I’m working in opposition to Him and His Kingdom.
Even as I write these words my flesh is trying to soften the blow by telling me that I’m being too hard on myself. Whispering deceitful words in my ear, suggesting that a little dishonest flattery is nothing to get down on myself about. But once again, the truth remains: had no man or woman ever sinned, my “little white lies” would still be enough to send Jesus to the cross to die in my place. And for such a brutal sacrifice, I can only assume He must expect more from me. To be a disciple of Christ, God wants my whole heart, and that means I must be willing to pursue truth at all costs and act honorably in all things, both big and small.
Psalms 51:10 - Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Jessica Gavin is a freelance writer, committed wife and mother, and follower of Jesus living deliberately in the suburbs of Richmond, VA. Authentically curious about world religions, she embarked on a blog project called "52 Prayers" where she vowed to attend a different house of worship each week for a year in search for the truth about God. After a year of wrestling with theology, Jessica found herself at the foot of the cross, smitten with a man from Galilee. Her project drew an international following and her writing has been featured in Skirt! Magazine, Crosswalk.com, WRIC's morning show and currently she is working on her spiritual memoir. A lifelong fan of studying human potential, Jessica facilitates group coaching workshops in her area. You can reach her online at www.52prayers.com.