If someone handed you an hour to yourself and said you had to spend it in one store, where would you go? Target? Nordstrom? Apple? The Dollar Store? REI?
Since I am not eating sugar at the moment (grr) and I can’t afford new clothes (grr again), I would probably head to Whole Foods. Not to buy much, just to wander around and inhale healthy scents oozing from BPA-free packaging. Unless there’s a rad candle with a decorative chunk missing and multiple discount stickers. Then I’m in.
This store we call Whole Paycheck draws me in like the idea of dark Amedei in my mouth. I’m sure I’d love it, but I can’t afford it. Well, I guess I could, but I choose not to afford it.
Just like I choose to put off my emails, I choose to not clean the stove, and I choose to shove my pile of papers in a cupboard when organized people come over. It is so easy to say I don’t have time to do those things because I’m busy, but that’s not the truth.
- Have you ever gone a week without brushing your teeth because you ran out of toothpaste?
- Ever gone to work naked and told everyone, “Sorry, folks—too busy to get dressed this morning”?
- Ever worn the same skivvies for a month because you didn’t have time to do laundry?
I don’t care how busy life gets—we all regularly make time to brush, dress, and change.
If you want a daily quiet/devotional time but claim your schedule’s too full, visualize saying that to God’s face. Not a guilt trip, just an observation in my own life. My quiet times did not change until I made them a priority, instead of a hope/wish/dream. Most of us don’t put off our closest friends for months on end; we make time for them.
Want to exercise in the morning but can’t scrape your weary self off the mattress? Go to bed earlier. Getting sucked into social media and mindlessly swiping, scrolling and clicking until all hours? Watching TV until you’re blurry-eyed? Set an alarm on your phone. Mine goes off at 9:30. It plays me a happy jingle and says, “Go brush your teeth.”
Of course there are nights when people are over, Spanish homework still isn’t done, and going to bed by ten is a pipe dream. But for normal nights, here are a few ideas for your own alarm reminders to hit the hay:
“It’ll be there tomorrow. Go to bed.”
“The baby will be crying in four hours.”
“Your face is dirty. Go wash it.”
“You need to beat your kids up in the morning.” (You know what I mean.)
“Because… the bags under your eyes.”
“O-dark:thirty comes early. Turn in, soldier.”
“No, it is not natural for chimpanzees to do that. Move on.”
Where were we….
Are you the president and CEO of a booming business with five social media outlets and dozens of employees who all report directly to you? Do you homeschool nine children under the age of 14, knit for the ICU and ferment your own kombucha to sell in your Etsy store? Are you taking seven college classes and working part-time while training for a Half Ironman?
Okay, all you crazos get a free pass to say you’re truly busy. Our choices put us into that category though. Busy is usually a choice. And you’re not too busy to eat. Or drink water. Or sleep.
Back to the chocolate. Do I have $15? Yep. Do I want to spend it on one bar of chocolate? Nope. I told you I couldn’t afford the Italian goodness, but I lied. I choose to spend $15 other ways. I also told you I couldn’t afford new clothes. Lie number two. I got some clothes for Christmas and money is tight. So even though I could probably find a fun shirt for $12.99 and still afford to buy groceries, I choose not to.
It’s like claiming we can’t afford organic food while paying a fat mortgage and driving expensive cars with high monthly payments. We’re choosing to put our money elsewhere and then feeling stretched too thin to spend a few more dollars on healthier body fuel. Ahem–been there.
No way around it—we vote with our wallets.
Which leads me to all the lies I’ve told over the years. Of course I never tell white lies—those were big no-no’s growing up. I refer to these as “dark chocolate lies.” They melt in my mouth, contain a few benefits, and aren’t that bad for me. Come on… it’s not like I’m sucking down marshmallow creme.
These lies, if I can bring myself to call them such, came so naturally over the years. Grownups modeled them, friends repeated them, media engrained them.
And I’ve told them over and over. To my friends, my family, myself. Sadly they roll off my lips like buttah:
“I can’t come because….”
“I don’t have time to….”
“I can’t give anymore because….”
“I can’t afford….”
“I can’t volunteer because….”
The birthday party for the obnoxious kid turning 8 1/2. The charity group calling for more money. The baby shower for the woman having her seventh. The RSVP to the wedding of a gay friend. The Essential Oils party full of women who tend to ignore me.
I should probably go to show my support. But if I don’t want to, should I give a teenie weenie dark chocolate lie, or tell the truth about why I’m not coming?
For me it depends on the situation. Am I going to massively crush someone’s spirit if I tell them the blunt, ugly truth? Saying I’m not coming because I simply don’t like them or completely disagree with their life work to save the dung beetle is probably not a good idea. Duh.
Are you ashamed of the reason why you can’t attend the event? If you truly (honestly, truthfully) can’t afford the plane ticket or the gas to get there, suck up your pride and say it. If, however, you’re using the lack of money excuse as a scapegoat because you simply don’t want to go… truffles.
Ahh—my new trigger word when I’m about to tell a dark chocolate lie. Want someone to hold you accountable with truth-stretching? Pick a friend and a word and give each other permission to use it when you’re about to open a gold-foiled wrapper of half-truth. Grr… truffles! (Yes, you may use my word.)
Ever read the verse in Proverbs about enemies and their kisses? I know, it’s brutal. I’ve been on both sides and it usually isn’t pretty. But the words are truth. And truth keeps me coming back.
“Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”
~ Proverbs 27:6 (NLT)
I don’t recommend taking the Simon Cowell/Piers Morgan approach, but I have had things pointed out in my life that stung somethin’ fierce. Ugly things I did not want to talk about or deal with. When done in love though, the God-honest whole truth is better than the wussy half lie. Painful at first, but better.
When I’m tempted to toss a little dark chocolate in someone’s direction (truffles!), I ask myself if I’d rather hear a painful truth or a beautiful lie.
Of course certain situations call for us to put on our big kid boots and show up, give, volunteer or buy. Showing our support (even when we don’t feel like it) can speak volumes to the host or guest of honor. Roll your eyes at home if needed, and then remember how it feels to throw a party and wonder who will come.
Either way, let’s start calling our dark chocolate lies what they are.
Okay, ready for a challenge? Our pastor’s wife gave this to our Sunday school class and now I am giving it to you. You’re welcome.
This week, ask God to show you any exaggerations or excuses that are borderline lies.
For those of us who wouldn’t consider ourselves liars, it’s easy to think this won’t apply. Or won’t be hard. Or won’t produce conviction. Surprise! I took the challenge and couldn’t believe how many half truths went through my mind I never thought were a big deal. When we invite the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we can know He will bring truth to the surface and help us change.
Perhaps my stories sound less exciting now, and my answers might not make it into the 19th edition of the official etiquette book. But my conscience is clear and my definition of being honest changed.
And if I ever ask you if these sunglasses make my booty look big, please, for the love of everything chocolate, just tell me the truth.
Sooo…? Gonna take the challenge? I dare you.