The Lies We Tell Ourselves – a guest post from Laura Droege

[Today’s guest post is from Laura Droege, a wonderful writer who touches upon the vulnerabilities of life and the strength of faith. This post is but one example of how she can touch our lives by opening up her own. I hope you visit her blog and read around in the archives.]

***

Back in high school, I was unpopular with the boys. Seriously unpopular. I’m not sure they were aware of my existence, except for those rare occasions when they called to get homework assignments for a class they’d missed. And, being a very self-conscious teenaged girl, I was certain that everyone in the entire school was aware of my dateless status. The thought filled me with angst, but I couldn’t exactly coerce a guy into asking me out, and asking him out was out of the question. Too aggressive.

One day in English class, we had a substitute who let us study, do homework, or talk. (You can guess what most of us did.) I was midway through a reading assignment when Susan, the girl sitting in front of me, turned around. “So, who have you gone out with, Laura?”

My best friend poked me in the spine. “Say you went to the movies with a guy last summer,” she hissed.

Susan was popular. I followed Cori’s advice. “Well,” I began, “I went to the movies last summer with this guy. We saw The Lion King.”

Susan’s eyes widened. Here was new information. “What was his name?”

“Joshua, Joshua Trent. He goes to my grandmother’s church, and I met him when I stayed at my grandparents’ house. He’s really super nice. He goes to Vanderbilt. He’s in the pre-med program there.”

“Oooo.” Susan seemed impressed by the details. “So, did you, you know, let him kiss you?”

I smiled one of those I’m-not-a-kiss-and-tell-type-of-girl smiles and flicked my eyes away, like I was remembering a romantic moment.

Now, there was indeed a young man named Joshua Trent whom I had met when I visited my grandmother’s house that past summer. He was very nice. But he was a year younger than I was and he didn’t go to Vanderbilt and we never got within spitting distance, much less kiss.

The news that I had gone on a date spread across the classroom, spilled into the halls between classes, and raced through the cafeteria. By lunch, everyone in my small high school knew. A guy from The Table of Popular People approached me at my place at The Table of Outcasts. “Hey, I heard you’re dating a guy at Vanderbilt. My sister goes there. Maybe she knows him.”

I thought fast. “Well, what I really meant was that he used to go there.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, he lost his scholarship, and his parents didn’t have enough money to keep sending him there, so now he’s going to MTSU.”

Wes trotted back to The Popular Table with that information. Cori’s boyfriend, sitting across the table from me, had his head in his arms because he was laughing so hard. My other friends rolled their eyes.

The more lies I told, the more I had to tell. And with each lie, I became more and more convinced that they were really, in some twisted way, the truth. My mind started whirling with the possibilities of friendship and romance between myself and the half-mythical Joshua. Never mind the truth. In my mind, Joshua and I had a bond, we were destined for each other, and the pain of separation was excruciating. (Really, the only “bond” was my attachment to my lies and their attachment to me.) By the end of the day, I announced to my friends that I missed Joshua. “I feel so sad,” I said, close to tears.

And I really did feel sad. I’d spoken this bizarre lie to myself, as well as other people, and let a lie change my emotional state to sadness and sorrow over a guy who didn’t exist in reality. And why? All to avoid embarrassment.

The wonder at unpopular Laura’s relationship with the former pre-med major-turned-scholarship-loser died off by the next day. To my knowledge, Susan and Wes and the crowd at The Popular Table never found out the truth. So I never got caught in my web of lies like conventional wisdom says liars do.

But I still think about it, every once in a while, and wonder why I felt compelled to lie about something so trivial.

And not just lie once, but multiple times.

And not just lie to others, but to myself and allow a lie to manipulate my emotions.

And not just that, but to allow it to affect my relationship with God. I was telling God, “I don’t trust you to comfort me if someone else finds out that I’m dateless. I can protect myself from gossip with a lie. I can protect myself better than you can, God.”

Maybe that’s why the Bible tells us not to lie. It’s not a suggestion. God commands us not to lie, not just to protect other people from dishonesty, but to protect us from the harm we do ourselves each time we tell ourselves a lie.

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16 Responses to The Lies We Tell Ourselves – a guest post from Laura Droege

  1. Pingback: The Lies We Tell Ourselves (My guest post for Tim Fall’s blog) | Laura Droege's blog

  2. lauradroege says:

    Thanks so much for posting my work on your blog, Tim. I’m honored!

    • Tim says:

      Absolutely my pleasure, Laura. You’ve written a powerful piece on how lying affects the liar. It hit close to home for me too, as I told that same lie more than once when I was young. The conclusion you draw on the way that lies get in the way of our relationship with God – that we substitute trust in ourselves for trust in him – just jumps off the page. I want to drop the lies and trust him more than I do myself.

  3. Adriana says:

    I’m all for telling the truth, Laura, but I must say — that lie made a great story! 🙂 So glad Tim invited you over today!

    • lauradroege says:

      I’ve told this story on myself several times over the years (in the back of my mind, always wondering about my motivation) and people just look at me like I’m crazy. They’re right! Thanks for reading, Adriana.

  4. Bronwyn Lea says:

    ” I can protect myself from gossip with a lie. I can protect myself better than you can, God.”
    So insightful! I have definitely told myself that lie. Thanks for your courage and truth- telling today, Laura.

  5. Jeannie says:

    This is a great post and makes us think about what is really at the root of the lies we tell. Thanks for sharing this experience.

    • lauradroege says:

      Jeannie, thanks for reading. As I said in the story, I’ve mulled over what happened that day for years, but never really saw what was at the root of the lie. Then I started writing this piece and the truth of what I was saying to God hit me.

  6. Laura says:

    I related to your high school situation Laura! I also was pretty much dateless, and remember someone also asking me in a not-so-nice way “so who have you dated?”. I too told a half lie (embellished truth – haha). Good points on not telling lies. I also see some teaching points on not being a bully – perhaps bully is too strong of a word. But I can’t imagine going up to someone who I thought was “without” something (dates or whatever else) and putting them on the spot about it. It is thoughtless and mean. But I drift into other topics….

    • lauradroege says:

      Yeah, I never figured out her motivation in asking the question. I’m not certain, but she and some of our classmates may have been talking about dating, etc., and, even though I sat behind her, I wasn’t paying attention to their conversation. (Too busy reading, good little bookworm that I was!) So it may have just been a way to include me in the conversation? Probably more thoughtless than anything else. The funny thing is, whatever her motivation, she turned out to be a nice person post-high school. Maybe high school hormones just makes us act worse than our adult selves!

      • Laura says:

        A “mean girl” to me in both junior and senior high school friend-ed me on facebook several years ago. I was shocked. Didn’t she remember how she treated me??!! (We graduated hs in 1988.) I decided to be gracious and accepted her request. Can you believe she then e-mailed me, and thanked me for even being willing to accept her friend request. And she then apologized to me for her bad behavior in high school! I could hardly believe it. She seems a transformed person. By Christ. She said she was not a true believer in high school, but later in adulthood came to genuine faith. Her whole life now seems a true reflection of the love of Christ.

  7. Aimee Byrd says:

    Wow, Laura, this was brave to share. What a great post! I was away all day yesterday and missed it. When I visited Tim’s blog today, I first read his post on the sincerity movement. Your article has me reflecting on true authenticity—being willing to admit we are liars, not to be comfortable feeling it’s okay to remain where we are b/c we sincerely want people to like us. And then to examine why we lie in the first place. It is a trust issue.

    • Tim says:

      Aimee, I have to say that Laura Droege is one of the bravest bloggers I read. She lays herself out there and by doing so reveals the grace of God in ways that I not only admire but want to emulate.

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