Tuesday, 24 April 2012

I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth… So help me God!

A study from Essex University suggests the British have become less honest in the last decade and einsurancegroup.co.uk claims we lie six times a day, on average.

The insurance firm challenged fellow Bristolian Jamie Donald to take up the ‘integrity challenge’. He was asked to keep a diary for a week to show whether he was able to tell the truth and only the truth.
I had a difficult conversation with my dad in which I had to be honest and tell him I didn’t want to attend a family funeral. Usually I would have lied to protect his feelings and now I feel incredibly bad for causing him unnecessary hurt.

My evening was spent avoiding people that I’d rather not have similar uncomfortable conversations with. Just one day in and already being honest has changed the conversations I have with people and who I want to talk to.

It’s lunchtime and I’m sat in work eating my sandwich when a colleague who is unaware of my truth challenge asks “Do you like me?”. Luckily I do, and answer “Yes”. Thankfully it wasn’t someone I didn’t like that asked.

Later that evening my wife shows me some clothes she has bought. I know what’s coming, but it’s still painful when she asks if I like her purchases. “No” I tell her, “sorry, I don’t actually like any of it”. I go to bed on the sofa wondering if honesty really is the best policy. 

I attend a pub quiz where we receive our lowest ever score after marking all our answers honestly. It’s a real eye-opener to see just how relaxed people are with being so brazenly dishonest.

So far this week I have been able to pass off sharp comments as a joke. However, this evening I upset a close friend that asked for my thoughts on a change of appearance. I’m increasingly of the opinion that some people expect to be lied to and welcome it on occasion. The honesty baton is beginning to become a heavy burden.

I am managing my employers Truth or Dare campaign that rewards honest drivers. As part of this project I provide everyone with a completely honest expectation on delivery dates. Everyone responds much better than I expected.

I am no longer staying on the sofa after a phone call with my wife, during which she thanks me for being upfront with her and apologises for the argument. I begin to sense that my week of honesty is now paying off on both a personal and professional level.

My optimism evaporates when my wife calls again to ask if I mind the in-laws coming to stay at the weekend. I use every conversation trick I’ve picked up this week to avoid lying without causing offense. I say “It’s quite short notice”, and the wife answers with “It’s only a few days”. I respond with “Ok”. My chastity belt of honesty remains intact.

Saturday and Sunday
I begin and end this weekend tiptoeing around the in-laws, and careful sentence construction is sorely needed. By Sunday, my honesty nerves are fraying and I feel myself becoming increasingly blunt.

As I end this challenge I am glad to have achieved a week of honesty, but the last seven days have been incredibly difficult, with the most simple of conversations proving to be potential banana skins.

Pants on fire
I wonder what would happen if we were all to take the same challenge. I know I’d find it difficult. It’s hard telling people things they clearly don’t want to hear.

But I’m also convinced that the truth sets us free (John 8:32). A few weeks back I bumped another car. It was dark and there was no-one else around and I’m ashamed to admit my first thought was to drive on. The car was an old banger after all…

I knew that I couldn’t do that, so I left an apologetic note on the windscreen. I can’t promise I wasn’t hoping for heavy rain or that it would somehow blow away, but my conscience was eased. The next day I got a call from the car owner who said he was really touched by my honesty and that I should forget all about it. I was so grateful and glad I’d owned up. I even got a chance to take him some M&S goodies and invite him to the Easter service at my church.

This confirmed to me that it’s not always the easiest or most natural thing to do, but telling the truth (in love) is definitely the way forward.

Read more from Joy in the upcoming issue of Sorted magazine. Our Father's Day special is out now and you can buy 50 copies for just £50!!

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