56: Truth Be Told
Stories in this episode: A phone call to a complete stranger could mean redemption or condemnation for Lindsey as she struggles to overcome a 13-year-old lie; Claire struggles to find relief from challenges with addiction until an unexpected source becomes the catalyst for true change.
Welcome to "This Is the Gospel" an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host, KaRyn Lay.
How many times in your day do you throw the word "honesty" around? If I'm being totally honest with you, I do it all the time. The phrases "honestly" and "to be honest," have become almost as commonplace in the English language as "like," and "ya know." And if that wasn't enough, all you have to do is parent or teach a six year old for you to really start to wonder if, "I'm being honest, I swear!" has any meaning at all. And truly, that's a bit of a problem for all of us.
Honesty, and the pursuit of honesty was so important to God that he etched it into some stone tablets along with nine other really important rules to live by as a human being. And as we seek to understand what's real in this world filled with imitations and imposters, our relationship with truth, whether that's being honest with ourselves, or being honest with others, plays a critical role in our ability to know God, and to know and understand His gospel.
So today, we have two stories about the way that honesty or the lack thereof affects our spiritual lives and what happens to our hearts when the truth finally comes out. Our first story comes from Lindsey, who learned the hard way that facing the truth is more freeing than living in the lie. Here's Lindsey.
So I am rocking my sweet baby in his room and I am having one of those days where I'm thinking about the past, thinking of where we've been, how it took so long to bring him into our family. We had received so many blessings to get him here. And then I started to feel inadequate. I started to think of all the things that, that I wanted for him, to be happy, to make good friends. And to be honest, and I had that same thought that kept coming into my mind, "Lindsey, how can you possibly teach your son to be honest when you yourself have not been honest?"
So 13 years ago, I was a live-in nanny. I was 18, I had a huge responsibility of caring for two, six-month-old twins. And I loved those kids. They were my whole world at the time.
I did have another nanny that worked alongside me and her name was Liz and she worked part time. She was everything that I wasn't. She was funny, athletic, mature, creative. She had curly hair, but good curly hair, not like mine—poofy and frizzy. And she was a student at BYU and the guys absolutely loved her.
In contrast, I was immature. I had no plans of going to college. I did have a boyfriend and he was going to college. And I was hoping that he didn't realize that I didn't have a whole lot to offer.
Every Sunday I had a few hours off, luckily. So I was able to go to dinner with my boyfriend and his family. And I go out to head to my boyfriend's house. I get out to the driveway and it's totally covered in snow. There's ice all over. I hadn't used the car for a couple of days so I knew it was going to take a long time to scrape everything off. Because mine was totally covered in snow, Liz offered to let her use her vehicle, which she had been driving so it didn't have any snow on it. Liz was borrowing this truck from her brother-in-law and it was big and kind of intimidating. And in the back of the truck was a big, six-foot toolbox that was nice and shiny and new. And again, no snow so I load in the truck. I go down the windey road, it's windy and slick. So I'm going below the speed limit. I go for about 20 minutes, and I noticed a couple people honking at me. But again, because I'm driving slower than normal, I didn't think much of it. I take a sharp turn and I head up the mountain.
So I'm relieved that I get to my boyfriend's house on time and safe. Because of the conditions of the road, I was just relieved to get there. And when I hopped out of the truck, I immediately understood why they were honking. Not only was the tailgate open, but also the toolbox was completely gone. I'm assuming that it had been wavering back and forth, and it had finally toppled over when I had taken that sharp turn.
I grabbed my boyfriend and we went back down the hill, we take a turn, and there's the toolbox in the middle of the road with tools scattered everywhere. And I could not believe that, number one, we hadn't caused an accident, and two, that there was no one around. So we hopped out of the truck and with tears streaming down my face, we're frantically picking up the tools. There's padding everywhere that had ripped apart, the drawers are all open, it's dented. So we're picking them up, we throw them into the truck, and we head back to his house to try to assemble this all back together.
I like, I'm past the point of frantic hysteria. I am just quietly crying and thinking of how I'm going to explain to Liz that I have ruined this toolbox. I was just so overwhelmed with this feeling of, "You have messed up." And I wasn't just worried about Liz and how this was going to affect her, I was even more concerned about her brother-in-law, who I had never met.
So my boyfriend and I worked on this for probably more than an hour. And we got to where this was an impossible puzzle, we were not going to be able to put the foam pieces in the way that they originally came. So we did the best we could and that was that. The toolbox looked like it had been through war. It looked really, really mangled. I knew that I was going to have to talk to her.
I had a plan to go back to the house and to tell her what had happened. I pulled into the driveway, I went into the house, and I said absolutely nothing to her. And she left. She went back to her dorm, and I went to bed that night. I hardly slept.
And so a couple of days later, I saw her again, she came back to work. And that is when she approached me and asked me what had happened to the toolbox.
And, "I don't know what happened." I, I lied. I lied to her. I straight up lied to her face. And even worse, I acted surprised when she told me that it was ruined. And because of how amazing she was, she left it at that because she trusted me. I'd never given her any other time to where she didn't trust me.
So eventually she quit and moved out of state. We eventually connect on social media. And I kind of just avoided her because of that guilt. And I didn't want to pretend that we were such good friends because good friends wouldn't lie to their friends' faces.
Fast forward 13 years and, yeah, I still could not get this toolbox out of my mind. And that brings me back to this day, holding my baby. And I just knew that this was it. This was the one thing that was holding me back. So one night, I typed up this huge email to her full of my just gut-wrenching apology to her. I apologized for lying. for damaging the toolbox. I told her that I thought of this in very pivotal moments in my life. When I received the fourth call from the doctor that said that the IVF didn't work. When I got that seventh failed IUI, artificial insemination. I thought of those things every time something bad happened to me, I thought, "This is because of the toolbox. This is because you have yet to apologize and fess up for the toolbox."
I don't think that was God or the Spirit that was telling me that. I needed some sense of control in my life. And when things didn't work out the way I wanted to, I had to come up with some kind of explanation as to why things weren't working out for me.
So while I'm writing this letter, I tell her to please apologize to her brother-in-law for me, and that I am willing to compensate him for whatever the cost was of a new toolbox. Even though this was years ago, I still needed her to know that I am here and I want to do what's right.
I finally send off this email. And I was sick. I was hoping that I was going to feel relief, but instead I just felt this huge sense of doom, like you have just stirred this up. Because nobody knew that I had done this, this was my deep, dark, dirty secret. And hours later, I get an alert that Liz has responded. And I open it and I am reading this and I'm just totally surprised with what I see. She is telling me that she feels horrible that I have been burdened with this. And I scan through a couple other things and at the very bottom, all I see is, "Here is Tyler's number, he wants to talk to you. He too is wondering what happened to the toolbox."
This is not what I wanted to read.
I don't remember exactly the circumstance under which I asked the question. But I do remember asking the question to Liz, "Hey, what happened to this toolbox?"
So when I discovered the toolbox and how it was so banged up, and yet the bed of the truck was not banged up, and I'm trying to, just trying to solve that mystery. This wasn't just this toolbox fell over, or this wasn't just somebody hit the brakes hard and the toolbox slammed into the side. I mean, this toolbox clearly had been through quite an experience.
Her response was, "I don't know." And I think I asked her then to ask Lindsey if she knew what had happened. And there too, it was same response: "I don't know." I remember feeling like something clearly happened. Information is not coming forward as to exactly what happened. I, if I were to, to label how I felt at that time, it was just, it was frustration, the frustration of not being told really what happened. And the frustration of not having to deal with it. So I wouldn't say I felt any kind of anger, I just felt frustration and in terms of my relationship with Liz, no, it didn't affect that relationship at all. Other than I knew, I knew somebody knew the story, and somebody wasn't telling me the story.
So I go back into my, my normal daily life and go on about my business. At the time I owned a landscape company and I was doing a lot of business with various hardware stores in the area. I got to know the manager of the hardware store fairly well. And on one occasion, I was there picking up some materials and he's out there with me loading them and sees the toolbox. He and I get into a conversation about that toolbox and I said, "I don't know what happened to that toolbox. But clearly, whatever happened, it didn't hold up too well." And he said, "Well, because you just recently bought it, if you'd like to return it, we'll exchange it out." He exchanged the, the old one, the old beat up one for a brand new one. So at that moment, in reality, I had been made whole. But occasionally thinking over the years that I still wanted, I still wondered what really happened with that original toolbox.
So, so a year or so ago, Liz called me and asked if I remember this incident. And I remember the kind of the excitement of getting that phone call, and still, still wondering how that mystery was going to get solved or if it was ever gonna get solved, if I'd ever know. And Liz has somewhat prepped me, saying how much this has affected Lindsey and I didn't want Lindsey to have to suffer any more than she already had. And so I remember being so anxious for her to call. So that, selfishly, a mystery get solved in my mind. But more important, second of all, now that I knew that this had affected her in such a major way, that I could play a role in helping to lay this to rest.
Phone, you know, phone rings, she introduces herself to me. I could sense the nervousness in her voice. She went through and told me the story of what had happened, and it finally made sense. And I remember her being very concerned that I would think of her as a liar. And when she said those words, my immediate reaction was "Lindsey, you are not a liar, a liar wouldn't be making this phone call. And I don't remember if she asked me to forgive her at the moment in time, if she explicitly stated something of that nature, I can honestly tell you that I absolutely forgave her.
As he's telling me this on the phone, I just was in awe because here I am, for almost 14 years, being so sick and heartbroken about this toolbox. But in the meantime, Heavenly Father had paved the way and had blessed him with a replacement. This wasn't his mistake, this was my mistake and he was gifted a new toolbox.
So at the end of the conversation of him telling me the story, he pauses and I'll never forget what he said to me. He said, "It is time for you to put this behind you. No longer do you need to be burdened with this. And I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to now teach this lesson to my children. And now you have the opportunity when your son gets older to sit down and teach him this lesson of honesty as well. And I just remember feeling so much peace when he said that. And I knew that that came directly from my Heavenly Father.
You know it just makes my heart ache that she went through all of that grief for all those years. But I was, at the same time, I was very thankful that we were able to have this conversation, to solve the mystery, and to put the issue to rest. Had she just told me at the very onset, or when this incident occurred, had, what had really happened, this could have been easily dealt with back then. And so it's a reminder to all of us to just be honest with each other. The burden that she's carried all this, all these years, is far greater than it needed to be.
So after I got off the phone with him, I just felt so different. I immediately knew that this was done, that I didn't have to worry about this anymore. And I just felt clean again, and it had been so long that I had felt that way.
And what's so interesting to me as this relates to the gospel, and to the Atonement, is that here a hardware store in this story effectively acts as the Savior. And so here the hardware store made me whole. They didn't cause the damage and yet, they were willing to make me whole because of it. And so it's kind of like what the Savior does for us. It's like kind of it is what the Savior does for us. To hear, the Savior has, He has nothing to do with the things that we do that are wrong, the sins that we commit. But yet He is happy to play a role to make us whole, and that's part of the plan. This is the plan. He has accounted for it. And so that's really where it helps me put everything, it helps put everything into context as to how this is a sampling of what the gospel is all about.
I often think of the video of the umbrella with Elder Uchtdorf, you know that one where he says, "Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon on us. It is our fear, doubt and sin that like an umbrella block these blessings from reaching us." And I think about that often, just the, the analogy of it. That same phone call, I go back to that when, you know the phone call is ended. And I just picture that umbrella being closed and I can now see that it's possible. Sometimes I think we feel that repentance is an impossible thing because of pride and shame and embarrassment. But it's possible and Heavenly Father will always be there for us.
That was Lindsey and Tyler. It's pretty rare that you get to hear both sides of a story like this. And we were so grateful to Tyler for letting some total strangers hunt him down and ask him questions about his experience. And since we're being totally honest, as producers, we were kind of wondering if Tyler's story might have some juicy bits of resentment and frustration that could resolve in the course of the story. But I think the fact that what we discovered was a story filled with kindness and forgiveness from the very beginning is absolutely fitting.
For years, Lindsey let this lie weigh on her heart and sit heavily on her sense of worth and goodness. And while she was doing and feeling disconnected, God was busy creating compensatory blessings for Tyler that allowed him to flourish and love.
We don't tell the truth only because it offers resolution. In fact, God can take care of that without us if He has to. We tell the truth because it is essential fuel for a soul that longs to be connected to our own divinity. If God is truth, and we are the children of God, then striving towards truth will get us closer and closer to that light.
Our final story today about coming clean and finding truth comes from Claire.
So the very first time that I shoplifted I was about 12 years old. And my friends and I, we hung out all the time, and we would go to this store. We would ride our bikes or walk to the store that was in the neighborhood. And there were some candy that we wanted. And we didn't have enough money, and they were like king-sized caramel bars, I do you remember, so my friend was like, "Well, just, you know, put it in your bag really quick." And we always had like a bag or something like a backpack. And it was with this guy that we really liked and I think we were trying to impress him. I think it was more of like, you know, "Be cool in front of this guy, this skater guy." And so we put the candy bars in her bag. And it was like such a rush, like, "Oh my gosh!" And then leaving the store and going back to the trail and like eating our candy bars and laughing about it, just thinking that we were so cool because we got away with it. And I think that it was a feeling of like being cool that really kind of drew me into doing it all the time with them because I wanted to be accepted so bad.
We started with the candy bars, my friend and I, and she was my best friend. She really was like my best friend. We were together all the time. She, we shoplifted not just candy but chapstick and makeup. And then eventually, we started when I was about 14 years old—14, 15—we would ride the city bus to the mall and we would have our backpack and that's when we started shoplifting clothes, and like shoving just tons of clothes in our backpacks. And eventually it just got so easy like I didn't have any conscious of it anymore. As the little candy bar turned into chapstick, turned into makeup, turned into clothes, my, my sense of this being wrong just kind of like left.
I was raised to know right from wrong. I went to seminary and the Young Women's Primary. My parents did everything to raise all six kids to be strong members of faith, and have honesty, and a truth, and trying to follow the Savior and all that He teaches. So I kept my shoplifting from my parents by being a good girl. I was good at school. I never have liked contention so I tried not to fight too much with my siblings or to cause too much problems. So I don't think my parents knew at all that there was this little secret that I had. And they were busy. They were very busy. They always had callings, my dad had started his business so he was always busy trying to get his business going. And, and I don't fault them for not knowing because I tried to keep it a secret and I did really good at it, I, you know, was really good at not showing that I had this bad secret.
I think when things really start to spiral out of control was when I moved out after graduating high school, and I was on my own. And I stopped going to church, you know, I was 18 and free and I was working as a cocktail server and so I was working the weekends. And, you know, I just thought I was too busy to go to church so there was a big disconnect there. And I was hanging around with the wrong people, my coworkers. And so I really think I just lost myself, I lost what I knew growing up in my home.
I don't think I really admitted that my shoplifting was a problem until I got caught. And then I continued to still do it. And then I got caught again. And I got caught like multiple times. And I even did like jail time for it and I couldn't stop. Like, even though I had money, you know, there was like, it was stupid things I didn't even really need. There's no denying that it's a problem when you take stuff that you don't even really need and you've been in jail for it. So there was no denying that was a problem.
I don't remember a moment, a specific moment where I thought this is no good. But I, I do remember, as I got to be 18, 19, 20 and the friends that I was hanging out with, we started doing things that I knew were wrong, like partying all the time. And the partying just turned into harder and harder drugs and and experiences and, and doing scarier things that, that I knew were wrong, that were so wrong. And as I started, not just experimenting with these drugs, and these people, I knew I didn't feel happy at all. Like it just felt hollow. Like, I felt a disconnect. I knew that I had disconnected from the Spirit that I felt in my life, it was gone. And I could feel it, I could feel that it was gone.
And eventually I started going to different rehabs and went to jail a few times and nothing changed in my life because I wasn't ready, maybe? I thought I was because I thought I was trying to stop. But I, I there was something that wasn't connecting with my efforts. I believe that it didn't actually work because I wasn't honest about how it was really affecting my life. I wasn't honest about how, like I, I think I just thought that it was only hurting me and that I could stop if I wanted to. When I really wanted to, I could just stop and that it wouldn't be that big of a deal. But I couldn't stop.
I remember one night I was in my room and I was sitting there using some drugs and I remember thinking this needs to stop. And I remember saying a prayer, "Please help me stop this disease." And that was the most sincere I really asked for help, like ever. And then the next day, I went to jail. Like God was answering my prayer and giving me a way to be all the things that I wanted to be, I wanted to be free of. So He put me away and free from being able to get to those things.
I remember sitting in the jail cell and it must be a scripture mastery scripture. I remember the thought, "Experiment on my word." And I remember that thought like repeating in my head. And so I asked the officer in the jail if I could get a Book of Mormon to read. And I started reading the Book of Mormon every day. Eventually, I started to feel the Spirit again. And it was something that I missed, like so much. It was so great to feel it again.
After I got released from jail, I committed to reading my scriptures every day, I just decided to see what happens if you just read it every day, just see what happens. And the first thing that fell away was my shoplifting. I realized that I didn't want to do it anymore. I there was, like no desire to put that chapstick or gum in my purse anymore. I remember walking out of stores and feeling so good that I could be in the store without being nervous that I was going to be caught. Like for the first time in years, I could leave stores and not be nervous that there was going to be somebody chasing me down. You know, I knew that it was because I was reading my Book of Mormon and so I knew that if I just kept reading, these, I just got to continue to get better.
I think with the scriptures, there's power in the words. I reflect on how, you know, God created words. And by reading and visualizing and thinking about the words, there's the power there, that is a gift from God if we want to tap into it, if we really had the desire and the commitment to tap into the opportunity of the scriptures and the words in it.
I started going back to church, and I met up with a bishop. And it was really kind of hard to tell him everything. But then it, it also felt really good to just tell him, to just get it off my chest. And he suggested some things that I should do. And I don't remember specifically what he advised but I do remember that I also committed to pay my tithing and be faithful with that and to come to church regularly and make sure to just be honest in everything that I say. I felt like he didn't judge me and so maybe I'm not as bad as I feel like I should feel. I just remember leaving my bishop's office feeling really good and that gave me hope, gave me hope.
After reading my scriptures every day, and after the shoplifting fell away, my smoking, I used to smoke cigarettes and, and all of a sudden I just didn't want to and I would try to and it was gross. And I was like, "Ew, why did I even try that?" I never really was a hard drinker but I didn't even want to hang out with the people that drink I, you know, didn't want to drink. And then I didn't even want to hang out with the people that did. And I didn't want any of the things or the lifestyle that I used to just find so fun.
I started hanging around with my family, they became my best friends. I know that they are the biggest support and strength for me and being around them strengthened me more than any of the treatment centers I went to, even though they did help teach me some things to avoid or, I just feel like being with my family and their joy and their love. and their righteousness like was one of the biggest strengths for me.
During all my distancing from my family and parents, they always invited me home. They always open their door to me and invited me to family things. And when I was there, they always showed love and never judgment. And so I always knew that they were there for me. I really want to tell parents when they have kids that are straying and they wonder if they should just, you know, block them out, block them off and until they decide to change their ways, I want them to know, knowing that my family was there, no matter what, gave me something to come back to when I was ready. And I think if they turned their backs on me I would have turned my back on me too. I would have given up.
Well, I do know that when I was dishonest, my family knew that I was dishonest. They weren't stupid. And they forgave me. It taught me that I needed to forgive. And it taught me that unless you're honest, people don't trust you, and it took a long time to re, re-earn that trust. And I've learned it's a precious thing that I don't ever want to lose, I can't.
To me now, an honest life looks like being able to be who I really am, and have fun sharing myself with my family and my friends and being free of any worry of what I've said, or what people think of me. If I'm honest, I know I have nothing to hide. And that is, like such a good feeling.
That was Claire. Claire has now been clean and sober for about 13 years and really wanted to make sure everybody knew that a huge part of her recovery was being honest with herself about the need to completely disconnect from those old friends and old places of her former life.
Claire and I also talked a lot about the value of different kinds of support systems in the pursuit of honesty and sobriety. We both felt it was important to note that there's no one-size-fits-all solution to recovery from addiction. Reading scriptures, counseling with a kind bishop, and being welcomed back to a loving family—along with more professional support from a good therapist or an accredited rehabilitation program or groups like AA or NA—those are just a few of the tools that God has put in our path as we seek a life of wholeness and freedom. And it is a life of freedom that Claire discovered.
One of my favorite moments from her story was when she stopped having that desire to shoplift. Her description of what it felt like to finally be free of the worry that someone would chase her down out of a store, well, I could practically feel the lightness that she talked about.
I remember a story I heard in stake conference a long time ago about a man who was in law school, and he was poor as most graduate students are. And it meant that every single nickel counted most of the time. And there was a salad bar in the cafeteria that charged extra for bacon bits and anything else delicious that you might want on a salad because, let's be honest, salads are only delicious with a million toppings. And so because many of his colleagues were in the same boat as him, they would pile the toppings on the bottom and then cover it with lettuce to get the cheaper price. Of course, it was tempting to this man to want to do the same. And his classmates actually thought it was really stupid of him not to take advantage of the salad bar loophole. And one day, it got to be too much. He was really getting tired of his bacon-bitless salad and he decided it wasn't really going to hurt anyone if just this once he got that bacon and covered it up. And as he was scooping the beautiful, salty goodness onto the bottom of a salad bowl, he heard a voice. It was a quiet, small voice but it said, "Will you sell your honesty for 25 cents? Will you sell your honesty for some bacon bits?" And he put those scoops of bacon back and contented himself with his boring old salad. But I remember that he said that this was a moment of decision for him that affected the rest of his life. Would he sell his honesty for bacon bits? Would he sell it for a million dollars? The answer from that moment on was, "No."
Most of us aren't going to be blessed with a strong or even a quiet voice to clearly warn us about the dangers of the little dishonesties and lies that permeate our days and lives. And we know that it's hard to be completely and totally honest at all times, and in all places, especially in a society that values the white lie. I mean, listen, you and I both know that if I slave over that new, complicated recipe and you hate it, I'm going to be thrilled if you lie to me and tell me that you loved it. But we can start our journey toward that commandment to be true and faithful in all things by committing to be completely honest with ourselves first, to see ourselves and our place in the world as it really is and not just how we want it to be.
In the Church's Addiction Recovery Program, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step to any lasting change of heart and behavior revolves around honesty. Admit that you of yourself are powerless to overcome, fill in the blank, and that your life has become unmanageable. And guess what my friends, that's all of us. Whether you struggle with an addiction or not, not one of us can do this life without God's grace and mercy and guidance.
But we're not left to do that on our own. Seeing things as they really are and then living a life of honest, self-appraisal is both a commandment and a gift from God. The prophet Ammon understood this when he spoke these words in Alma, chapter 26, verses 11 and 12. He said, "I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom, but behold, my joy is full. Yea, my heart is brimming with joy and I will rejoice in my God, yea, I know that I am nothing, as to my strength, I am weak. Therefore, I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength, I can do all things."
There is choice involved in our effort to live honestly. But if we want it, if we're willing, He's going to help us accomplish it. And when that self appraisal leads to action, and we need strength to send the Facebook message, or make the phone call admitting that we lied about the toolbox, or we need the courage to walk into the bishop's office to confess and forsake the years of our deception, we will not be alone. And in His strength, and our weakness, we can do all things.
That's it for this episode of "This Is the Gospel," thank you to our storytellers, Lindsey, Tyler and Claire for sharing their true and honest stories with us. We'll have more info about our storytellers, as well as a transcript of this episode in our show notes at ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel. You can also find us on social media on Facebook and Instagram @thisisthegospel_podcast, come find us there.
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All of the stories on this podcast are true and accurate as affirmed by our storytellers. And of course, if you have a story to share and want to become one of our storytellers, please call our pitch line and leave us a pitch. You'll have three minutes to tell us all about your story and what it has taught you about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We found both stories for this episode from our pitch line and we love to hear how the gospel of Jesus Christ is changing your life. Call 515-519-6179 to leave us a message.
This episode was produced by me, KaRyn Lay, with additional story production and editing from Erika Free. It was scored, mixed and mastered by Mix at Six Studios, our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom and you can find all the past episodes of this podcast and other LDS Living podcasts at ldsliving.com/podcasts. Have a great week!