Don’t bother lying to God

When my mother was a new Christian, she was in with a crowd that put great stock in outward appearances. Since she had many more kids and much less money than everyone else, she felt horribly self-conscious about her house, which was shabby and cluttered despite her constant housekeeping. She got in the habit of saying, if someone stopped by, “Oh, please excuse the house. We’ve been away all day and I haven’t had a chance to tidy up!” or “Sorry about the mess around here! The kids have been sick and I’m so behind.”

Then one day, she just got sick of it. The smarmiest, must judgmental neighbor of all happened to drop in, and she said, “Well, I’m sorry about the house. This is how we live.”

I wish I knew the rest of the story. Did the judgy woman gasp and flee? Did she tell everyone that Mrs. P. lives like a pig and isn’t even ashamed of it? Did she (it’s possible) think, “Wow, that’s kind of refreshing. Someone just told me the truth”? It’s possible that the woman was even grateful that someone trusted her with some difficult information. It’s possible she went away and asked herself why it was that people felt they needed to lie to her.

Telling the truth is says something about us, and also something about the person we’re talking to. When we tell the truth, its a risk to ourselves, but also a great compliment to them.

The older I get, the less patience I have for people who try to shine me on. It feels rude to be lied to. Do you think I’m too dumb to know the truth? Too weak? Too shallow? Who has time for pretense? There’s so much nonsense in the world that we can’t get around. Why add to it by pretending to be someone we’re not?

I’ll tell you something. God is even older than I am, and he has even less interest in hearing lies. My brother Joe tells about a priest who had a big problem. And he was mad. Mad at the world, mad at his situation, and mad at God. So every day, he went into the adoration chapel, knelt before the Sacrament, and told the truth: “I don’t love you, God.”

Every day, every day he did this. Until one day he said it, and he realized it wasn’t true anymore.

I’d like to know the rest of that story, too. I do know that it’s never useful to lie to God. It’s never useful to lie to ourselves about what our relationship with God is. It’s never useful to run away from God, and refuse to talk to him, if we feel like we can’t say the right things or feel the right things. No one has time for that, and it’s an insult to God to even try it. If you feel like you have to hide, then tell him that. If you feel that he’s not fair, tell him that. If you aren’t even sure he exists, tell him that. There’s no time for anything less than the truth.

Utter honesty is a luxury we do not always have with the rest of the world. Civility, duty, and charity often demand that we reserve such blunt honesty from other people, at least most of the time. So do what you need to do when you’re presenting yourself to the rest of the world. Sometimes it’s appropriate to lay it all out there; sometimes you will want or need to be a little more guarded.

But not with God. Never with God. Go ahead and tell him, as you open your front door, “This is just how I live.” It doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility of changing things, if that’s what needs to happen; but God will not help you change until you are willing to talk to him about where you are. He is a gentleman. He only comes in where He is invited. Honesty is an invitation he always accepts.

This essay was originally published in 2016.

Image By Miguel Discart (2014-04-05_14-13-49_NEX-6_DSC08220) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
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7 thoughts on “Don’t bother lying to God”

  1. For the vast majority of my life, I was deathly terrified and hesitant of telling God the truth about what my life was like and how I felt throughout it. This was mainly due to all the messages I got bombarded with about how I needed to trust Him, be content, and not express any anger or discontent at wrongs, no matter how severe they were. I was terrified that I would be giving in to sin by being honest with him (i.e. indulging in gossip, rage, hatred).

    Now I look at this commandment and the obvious fact alongside: If God is calling you to be honest with Him about your life, He is probably also reassuring you that you won’t be sinning by doing so.

  2. Thank you Simcha, I needed this today.

    Also, have we forgotten how many of the Psalms complain loudly at God for how He treats His friends?

  3. It’s easy to be honest with God. He understands. Its easy to be honest with our family. They understand- more often than not anyway. It’s harder to be honest with others. I know God wants us to be honest with each other but I find it difficult to be vulnerable. Very very difficult. Especially when it comes to taking down the facade. I find if you come across as having your act together then you get better success. Temporary albeit. When you say, you don’t know something or you are struggling or less than perfect, your value as a person drops. Probably your value as a person to others drops. And opportunities cease. I gotta ponder this more. Thank you for this.

  4. This is a great column, Simcha. I especially appreciate the story the faithful priest who told God who/where he was. I love your Mother, too. It takes a while to arrive at the place where you accept yourself and present that true self to others. Thank you.

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