When my kids were really small and just learning to talk they occasionally told “fibs.”
“I don’t know how that gross banana got mashed into the carpet. I think I umm… just found it like that.”
Their little half-truths coupled with their beguiling faces were just too cute. I couldn’t consider their stories lies. “Lie” is such an ugly word. My kids told fibs.
When I helped in their kindergarten classrooms, occasionally I’d encounter a little one who had a wonderful imagination and it spilled into a great big fib.
“Mrs. G! One day… I was home alone and I saw a giant, huge, big rainbow-colored snake in my dining room.”
“Uh-huh?” Finally some excitement from the tedium of cutting paper shapes. This kid had my full attention. “Wow. And what happened?”
“Well, I grabbed a huge sharp…thingy, a…a…
“Yep! and I chopped it a hundred billion times. And then its head jumped right at me. So I shot it.”
“Whoa. That’s intense. Awesome story! You know you’re a great storyteller? What a gift! Not everyone can tell good stories. Next time you tell that story, be sure to begin by saying, “Once upon a time,” so everyone is prepared for a wild ride. You should get credit for your work. Otherwise, people will think it’s just a big old fib.”
The poor kid wasn’t sure whether to be super proud or mildly chastised. I probably intended both.
The point is most everyone has the disordered inclination to lie, even innocent children. We embellish or downplay. In our fallen, fallible nature, we are tempted to lie to those around us. Spoiler alert—all lies are destructive. But the lies we tell others are often small potatoes compared to the toxic big whopper of a lie we tell ourselves.
If you’re breathing right now, which I will go ahead and assume you are, you’ve undoubtedly told yourself this giant whopper: I don’t measure up. Let that really sink in a moment. Consider the countless times or situations you’ve thought, “I’m not good enough. I don’t have what it takes. I don’t belong. I’m not worthy. I just don’t measure up.” I suspect you’ve heard the loop of it in your head from time to time throughout your life. Now, examine the impact that lie has had on your life.
This whopper of a lie can cause unimaginable devastation in the landscape of our lives. But we must recognize it for the deceit that it is. God, in all of His goodness, loves us as we are, right at this very moment, not on the condition that we sin less or work harder or become more holy. There is no condition attached to His boundless love for each one of us. He meets us as we are and loves us right where we stand, often in a state of pain or brokenness. Does that relieve us from the challenge of becoming a better person? No. In fact, it should inspire us to strive to become the version of ourselves that He sees. Anything else is a lie. Darkness, negativity, criticism and the absence of love are NOT of God. When we tell ourselves that we don’t measure up, it is a lie that Satan whispers in our ear. We must dismiss it and regard it as the falsehood that it is. If left unchecked that little whisper can become a constant, banging gong of failure and inadequacy that settles in our hearts and becomes the new narrative that shapes our self-identity. The truth is we find our identity in His love. We are children of God.
I recently heard a great speaker, Chris Stefanick, who told a compelling story of a priest who was walking in one of the boroughs of New York when he came across a crowd of teenage girls attacking another teenager. They began to punch, kick and close in on the young woman. The priest is a former bodybuilder who now sports the brown habit of the Franciscans of the Renewal. He jumped to the defense of the young woman who was being attacked and managed to scare them off. As the angry mob of teenagers fled, the teenage girl was lying on the ground waving her fists and screaming at her attackers’ retreating backs. She shouted a continuous string of venomous, disgraceful, ugly slurs at them. Her protector suddenly turned to her. “Stop! You’re a daughter of God. Don’t you know you are a royal princess?” She was stunned into silence. “I never heard that before,” she cried.
But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. —1Peter 2:9
Being children of the King doesn’t mean we don’t mess up. We will mess up as long as we take breath. But a saint, a hero, a child of the Light picks himself up, dusts himself off, and gets back to the work of doing His work. We head to confession often. We seek His limitless forgiveness. It is granted. Then we are back on our royal mission.
When Satan threatens to shake your confidence and wants to deceive you into thinking you don’t measure up—when you think, “I’m not (smart, funny, holy, confident, fill-in-the-blank) enough,” consider putting the words “once upon a time” at the beginning of that big old whopper of a lie. Remember it’s Satan’s evil narrative and he should get all the credit for it. The real, Divinely-ordained story that defines who you are is a heck of a lot more interesting anyway.
My brother tipped me off to a couple beautiful prayers by Father Ignatius Mazanowski F.H.S They are worth sharing. We are going to start saying them regularly with our kids during family prayer.
If you’d like more info on the above prayers, ask to join the group Healing of the Heart on Facebook.
*Photo by: kygp