when i was a young girl i had a friend who would very seldom tell the truth. she would exaggerate everything that she said and sometimes even make things up completely out of the blue. it got to a place in our relationship where i did not believe anything that she said. that was detrimental to our friendship because i could not trust her. i wanted her as my friend though because she was very nice to me and made me feel like she wanted me in her life. so, i continued hanging out with her. although, there were so many times that i just wanted to scream, "just tell the truth. i want the truth!" her lies did not cease so our friendship did.
as i think back on this relationship and realize that lack of truth dissolved it. i realize how even more importantly it is for me as a parent to teach my children to always tell me the truth. i have caught all of my children lying to me at times, sometimes defending their lie to the bitter end. at those times, once again i felt like screaming, "just tell me the truth. i want the truth!" sometime i did. but, in the end i would just let them know i knew they were lying and discipline them for it, usually grounding them from something that they loved. i would explain that they have to tell me the truth or they were going to be in trouble. that really hasn't worked that well because usually when children lie they are taking a chance to not get in trouble for something else. and, if they could get by with the lie, they could avoid punishment altogether. but, recently i have been recognizing that some of the trust in the relationship between my older children and myself has started to dwindle. there is no ending of our relationship so instead the lying must end.
i asked God to help me with this concern and give me wisdom in knowing how to bring truth back into our relationship on a consistent basis. and, He led me to the Truth Himself. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), the God of truth (Isaiah 65:16). He helped me to see that trust is built on truth not discipline. i was discipling for the lie but that was not building truth. so, i had to start back at square one with my kids. i said to them, "i have been handling dishonesty in our relationship all wrong and i am sorry. when i have caught you lying in the past, i was so concerned about discipling your bad behavior that i didn't recognize i was allowing distance to build up in our relationship through it. the discipline did not teach you the importance of honesty in our relationship at all. so, we are going to build trust together. we are going to build truth in our relationship. this is important to me because you are important to me. relationships cannot exist without trust based on truth. it is important that you see the necessity of honesty. i want to hear you say, 'i want the truth!' because you know nothing lasts that is not built on truth. so, from this point forward, there will be no discipline for lying only privilege for speaking truth. all privileges outside of our home are gone at this point, kind of like you are eight years old again, not mature enough to be away from your parents or out on your own. as we live our lives together and i recognize you embracing truth even if it means you not getting what you want sometimes, i will extend these privileges back to you a little at a time, kind of like you are growing up, until eventually you will be back to full freedom based on full trust. we are building trust on truth and privileges come with trust. if at any time you misuse a privilege by lying to me, you will not be grounded, like serving prison time to only be let out of jail when your time is up to do the same thing again, but all trust has been broken and will have to be built back up again from square one. the issue is not bad behavior but not recognizing the importance of retaining trust with me, making our relationship more important to you than whatever it is you are tempted to lie about."
their response was mixed. they accepted my apology and saw how lying had brought about distance. but, they did not like the idea of having to grow back into their privileges, of course not. it has been four weeks now since our new slogan, "i want the truth" has been created. the first week was really hard. but, slowly we are all beginning to see that truth builds relationships and lies destroy them. so in our home, lying is not just risking being grounded but losing trust that brings forth privilege.
as i continue on this journey with my kids, i must realize the same is true in my relationship with God. trust is built in my relationship with Him as i embrace Truth and distance begins when i am tempted to look somewhere else to find it. He is the Truth. My relationship with Him is the most important thing to me and my heart is saying, "I want the truth." I want Him!
3 days ago