The dictionary defines a white lie as: A minor, polite, or harmless lie. An often trivial, diplomatic or well-intentioned untruth. An unimportant lie (especially one told to be tactful or polite). And my favorite definition of all: An untruth told to spare feelings or from politeness.
No matter how it is said or what the definition, a white lie is simply what it says, it is a lie. What is it that throws us into that dark hole of denial that makes us believe to lie is better than enduring ones pain of hearing the truth? Is it really the pain of others that keeps us from the truth or is it our own discomfort? Is it the thought of watching loved ones suffer, squirm, or anger due to something we have said? No matter the reason, truth be told a lie is a lie.
For many weeks now I have been telling a white lie. Each time I did, it was minor, and well-intentioned; yet each time I did, it did not feel harmless or polite. Most would argue that my reasoning was good. That my well-intentioned, untruth, was necessary. But today something happened, something that left me feeling empty and disturbed. Today in the midst of a trivial conversation, as these foreign words poured out of my mouth, each one filled with lies and untruths, each word to protect, to shield and to prevent harm. I realized how important my words truly were.
For years I have taught my children about truth, honesty and facing consequences no matter the outcome. I have preached day in and day out about out how the very act of lying can break down trust. How what we say and what we do defines who we are as individuals, and that being true to ourselves and others is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves.
There is an ironic twist to my confession, the part of the story that cuts deep into my heart and makes my stomach ache and churn. The stories that I shared, the lies that I told, those simple and trivial tales that I spun in my web and tangled myself in. Each one with words carefully chosen, all in the name of love, were told to my daughter. Yes this child that I have taught, preached and lectured to about the telling of truths, about it defining us as individuals, and being a sign of respect. All of my years of preaching and teaching I washed away with just a few words.
I really think I should explain. Not that there is any explanation that justifies, or excuses a lie, but in an attempt to save face, I will share with you just the same.
Eight years ago my husband and I adopted three children. There were two girls and a boy. They were 4months, 5 years and 8 years old and they were ours!
The day they all came home was the beginning of a life I could never predict. It has taken many turns, traveled hills and valleys and survived many floods, but overall, we have made it. However along the way there were casualties, our eldest became lost. Due to issues too horrible to discuss and too private to mention, she came to us with a broken heart, a wounded spirit and a hopeless soul. Her pain overwhelmed us and her. As she struggled to make sense of it in her young teenage mind, eventually her acts of self destruct and her outbursts of anger forced us to do the unthinkable. On March 30, 2006 she was placed in a lock down facility for minors.
I can not put into words what this does to a parent. Some day I will try for I think it is a story worthy of being told. But today I will hold those memories deep in my heart, waiting to see how it all will end. Which is where my white lie has begun. She is coming home! Yes, that’s right 2 years and 8 months and finally she will be coming home. Whether this is a good thing or not, we do not know. It feels right and that is all that matters. She needs a family and to be loved and we will take it from there. So where is the lie you ask? Well, she does not know. We have worked so long to try and get her to follow through at her school. (She is in no position to graduate or follow their program, she is really not capable). Her deepest desire is to be home. It is all she asks and all she hopes for.
Several times we have almost “made it”. Gotten to a point where she was stable enough to start planning her return home. Each and every time, her mind got the best of her and she would sabotage herself, leaving a young girl and her family devastated and a mother and father picking up the pieces.
Maybe this mother was too tired. Too tired to face the truth due to the aftermath that might come once it is told. Too sad for her daughter, knowing how much she needs her family and afraid in one quick second, she would throw it all away.
Today I have decided to tell my daughter. I can no longer talk with her about the future as if she were not “in” it. Today I will risk trusting her with the truth, knowing whatever that truth brings, is what life had intended. I am excited of the possibilities and afraid just the same but I am confident in my decision. For the truth no matter the risk, is, as it is defined; good, reality, actuality and a sign of integrity