I had the privilege last week to hang out with a missionary couple that served over 25 years of ministry in Australia. I’ve met them a few times and always leave encouraged by their humor, authenticity and desire to seek God and share His truth with others. They are different than a lot of people in their generation. I feel like they have an understanding of our generation that most don’t. They moved back to the states a few years ago and they’re trying to learn how American culture has changed in their absence. When I asked him what his conclusion was thus far, I was surprised at his answer. He said “Americans are a bunch of liars. They’ve lost the ability to be honest and lack integrity.” I sat staring at him for a minute because I felt like that was a pretty huge statement. After some prompting from me (sitting wide eyed and mouth gaping) he qualified his statement and didn’t excuse the church from this either. He is a really fun man, with a great sense of humor, authenticity and full of grace. So, if you’re picturing a grumpy uptight missionary, that’s not at all who he is. We had a great discussion about how this has affected the church and some of the ways it has disconnected church from our culture. Ultimately though, the conversation left me evaluating my own heart. Am I a liar? One of our boys really struggles with lying and it is a big deal in our house right now as we work through that with him. But, I have asked myself many times and evaluated my heart in this. Am I a liar? The answer I received was, YES! Ugh, that really wasn’t the answer I was looking for. I would consider myself a very honest person, I hate cheating, I’m a rule follower and I have a very strong sense of justice. I didn’t have to go far to find it. The night before Hayden and I left town last week we got into a pretty heavy argument. I had been holding in a lot of hurt and anger towards him and because of that, my heart had hardened against him. Instead of telling him the truth for months of hurt I’ve been holding on to it and lying to him about being okay. I’ve been lying to a lot of people about it. And while I wouldn’t have talked to every person that asked me how I was doing about my marriage, I gladly put on a happy face for people (some even close to me). See, I have always seen my relationship with Hayden as something really special – like we have something that not everyone has. I don’t mean that in a mean or comparative way, but I see it as something to be really thankful for. Last week, when the shtuff hit the fan, my lies had me to the place of believing that even that part of our relationship wasn’t real, that it had all been fake. (Insert eye roll for my drama. Yes, 12 years of amazingness has been fake? How do I buy into this nonsense?) My lies beget more lies. Aack. I’m a grown woman, a mature Christian and I didn’t even see what I had been doing as lying. So, how did I get there? First, I let myself be controlled by fear. I have a fear of being a nag. I hate the stereotypical view of wives nagging their husbands, giving them to-do lists and controlling them. I have fought that our whole marriage. But, because of that fear, I often withhold truth from my husband instead of trusting him to handle it when it’s appropriate. What does God say about that? Proverbs 29:25 “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Second, I believed lies. Who’s the father of lies? John 8:44b says “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Yikes. I feel pretty foolish at this point but I will keep going. Third and last point, I didn’t trust. This has been a struggle for me my whole marriage. I have had to give it over thousands of times to God. Not because my husband isn’t trustworthy, the contrary actually, he is the most loyal person I know. So, why do I struggle to trust the most loyal man I know? Because of the first point up there…fear. I have an irrational fear of being left, of being cheated on, of being hurt and humiliated. I withhold love sometimes because of it. I have a sad track record of severing ties with people that move away because it’s easier to sever it than feel the pain of their absence. I know it’s ugly and selfish, but I’m trying to do better. In my marriage, I now have a mantra that I tell myself when I find myself withholding love. Because I love Hayden; I will trust him, I won’t read his texts and emails and Facebook looking for something, I won’t question him every time he leaves the house. I will be willing to be made a fool for loving him because I will not live my life in fear but will do my best to live 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a with him. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” So, this month, I learned that I’m a liar. How about you ladies? I would love to hear what you’re learning.