When I was a teenager I used to lie a lot. I was pretty good at it too. I would make sure that everyone had the peachiest picture of me, even though I wasn't so peachy. I used to withhold truths from Kristie, things I knew she would have liked to know. She always found out about these things at a later date, which made the truth that much harder for her to deal with. Anytime the truth has time to marinate, it will always hit harder. Contrary to meat marination, truth always tastes much worse over time. It will always hurt more. The thing about Kristie finding things out after the fact was that it hurt our trust, and trust is the most important ingredient in any relationship. Without trust, you will fail. Because of my betrayal of her trust she would end up scrutinizing my every decision, passing it through a field of questions, wondering if it was truth or if I was covering something up. I guess she was hoping to unveil anything that might hurt sooner, so that it wouldn't have the chance to hurt more later. Turns out the withholding of the truth to "protect Kristie from being hurt" (which was really a selfish justification) only made things worse for me. She would get hurt anyways, only making it a bigger mess to clean up. When she inevitably found things out it would hurt the both of us - myself more deservedly so. However, without those hurtful lessons I wouldn't have learned anything. I'd still be a schmuck.
Without trust it took a lot more effort for me to do anything without suspicion. I was a slave and it was terrible, so I did something dramatic. I decided to start telling her the truth. Pretty soon I learned that I had to tell Kristie everything - especially things that I knew she would like to know -if I wanted to be free from the burden of suspicion. She would like to know who I was with, if I drank too much, smoked something funny or did something stupid. It was absolutely freeing. What's wonderful about Kristie is that as I disclosed things I was ashamed of she offered immediate grace (Of course, it helps to have a partner who understands Christ-like grace). I know that grace would have turned to righteous criticism if I had waited to disclose the information, so I continued to be honest. The thing about that practice, the honest one, is that I started to NOT want to do things that would hurt her. Wierd, I know. No longer would I justify my actions with things like: I'll think of something to say. If she found out she'd only be upset. She doesn't need to worry. Instead I would be in a situation and I would think, I'm going to have to tell Kristie this, and then she's going to forgive me and give me that sweet-but-hurt-at-the-same-time face and I'll feel like a jerk. So I wouldn't do it. The thought of that started to stop me in my tracks. I'd think about my actions, and because of my trend of being honest I was forced into rethinking my lifestyle. Honesty breeds integrity. Suddenly, my word started to mean something. What I told her became exactly what I did, and vice versa, because of my new habit of honesty.
The story I was telling about myself became the true story of my life. No longer could I hide behind the "peachy picture" I used to paint. I wanted a good story, and I had to learn to live one instead of just telling one. Once my "peachy picture" was exposed for the ugly truth, there was no turning back, I had to paint a real one.
Ten years later, I can think of countless admissions of guilt and struggle that were met by grace each time. It is easy to extend grace for her admissions as well. The thing about Kristie is that she is to the core a fundamentally honest person, so I've never had to fish anything out of her. This is probably due in part to the fact that she's a terrible liar. She doesn't even try. Even a surprise purchase on the credit card gets broadcasted with a loud and sheepish "Nothiiiiinnnng" when I walk through the door. I always find it hilarious, so it's hard to be mad. Of course, it is also incredibly manipulative to play on my weaknesses with cute voices, and I've been meaning to talk with her about this, but every time I try she puts on this really cute baby voice and I'm rendered useless. All jokes aside, and to risk making a fairly obvious statement, honesty has built our individual characters and strengthened the trust between us. There is ultimate freedom in our trust, which (to be obvious again) is the great reward for being trustworthy.
If you want to develop character - to be a leader or see your dreams come to fruition - you have to be honest. Familiarize yourself with your weaknesses. Consult people who know better than you if you must, but be real about who you are. Honesty breeds integrity, and people with integrity are extremely rare these days.