I have struggled with "whole" truth telling for quite some time.
It was the thing that got me in trouble as a kid and it has been the thing that has caused me to stumble again and again as an adult.
I don't mind speaking and acknowledging parts of the truth, I am all about that. But when it comes to the gut-honest, 100% transparent truth-speaking, it usually takes me a couple of times to get it right.
It kills me how easily my mind can come up with alternative responses, stories, and perspectives which all work to create my own version of the "truth". I have found myself automatically spitting out these types of dialogues without hesitation; and it is only after the words have been spoken I realize what I actually said was not the truth at all.
When I went to confess the truth to John (see Choosing to Cheat for more of the story), it took two attempts. I knew exactly what I was suppose to say, but the first time around, I was not 100% honest. I told a version of the truth that left significant parts of my mistakes out of the picture. This confession was slanted with my own spin. But I had made up my mind it was enough.
That was right at the end of college. John had accepted a job in Atlanta, and we were heavy in the process of thinking through what the next chapter of our relationship and personal and professional lives would look like.
Little did I know how my decision to not speak the full truth in that moment would wind up impacting almost every part of my life over the next eight months.
I went to a good school and I was a hard worker, so, in my simple mind, getting a job right out of college would be a piece of cake. Instead, I received rejection after rejection. It was brutally humbling.
All the while, that persistent small voice from within constantly reminded me about my partial truth telling to John.
But again, I silenced it. John didn't need to know--the truth would only cause more hurt which he did not need.
And then more rejection letters. More professional slammed doors.
As each rejection came and another door shut, there was a faint echo in my heart that grew louder: "Tell him, tell him all of it."
I will spare you the further storytelling but suffice to say that within two days of sitting down and telling John the whole truth, I got a job offer.
Coincidence? Absolutely not. And I could tell you story after story of how this pattern of stepping into complete obedience has yielded God's favor and provision in my life. But this is a lesson I keep having to learn.
Each time I am met with the opportunity to tell the whole truth, I still stumble. That automatic partial-truth telling response kicks in and I have to fight hard to see it coming.
Because the truth is, no matter how many times I have had an undeniable God experience in my life, my sin-bent heart prefers comfort. Comfort defined by what looks best and seems best to me, for me. And when this comfort is challenged, the voice in my head comes up with a million rationalizations--some that even have parts of the truth embedded into them--and my head wants more than anything to go with that particular option.
"It's just one more, it will be fine."
"It's just an isolated incident."
"It's just sex, no one waits anymore."
"It's just a living arrangement, it makes the most sense."
"It's just something I need to carry on my own, no one needs to know about it. I don't want to hurt them."
You likely know the story of Moses and the Israelites. God spared them, these were His people, and he delivered them from the Egyptians and a life of brutal slavery. He wanted to take them to a new land with a new way of life and He promised these things to them. But despite the fact the Israelites had seen the hand of God in and on their lives multiple times, they got distracted by comfort.
Over and over again God told Moses I am taking you and the Israelites to the Promise Land. No more slavery, no more cruelty. I want to give you something better. I will go before you and prepare the way. But make sure you and the Israelites place no other gods before me.
And the Israelites responded: we will do as you say.
But the Israelites were not a patient people. When Moses went to meet with God to get the ten commandments, the Israelites grew restless and decided to take matters into their own hands. They were tired of waiting on God.
So they decided not to wait.
And God wanted to destroy them because of it. But He didn't. He spared them, He punished them, and then He made good on His promise to deliver them to that promised land. But it would take 40 years before God would lead them to that promised place.
I often wonder how the story would have changed if the Israelites had been fully obedient the first time around. Would they had to of wander in the desert for 40 years? Would some of their pain have been spared?
It is easy to look back at the story of the Israelites and think God is not the same as He was back then. He has changed. People have changed. Obedience in the small things just isn't that big of a deal.
If I could look you in the eye, right now in this moment, I would tell you God absolutely cares about the details. And God absolutely cares about you. He loved the Israelites way back when and He loves you right now. And He wants 100% obedience.
When people ask me how I know there is a God...it is because of this; it is because I have seen His faithfulness when I have been obedient to that small, persistent voice. When people ask me what grace is, I say it is this...because I have been disobedient too many times to count and yet God pursues me still.
Don't be afraid to lean in to that small, persistent whisper. Don't be afraid of that uncomfortable thing: the action, the phone call, the confession, the saying no...whatever it is.
You can do it. I know you can.