I resolved this year to dwell much less on the faults of others, but I continue to deal with a situation rich with temptation toward judgment. Last summer, I mentioned that I know someone who lies more often than she tells the truth.
What would you do if you worked with someone who told the truth about the work itself but lied about her personal life 80% of the time?
I’ve tried to approach this matter from many different angles. I’ve considered that her lies could be a firewall of sorts between home and work. If that is the case, I’d rather that she remain mum about her private life. For months, I’ve tried the strategy of I’ll-ask-you-no-questions-so-you’ll-tell-me-no-lies, to little avail. The tales continue, embroidered with ever-deeper fabrication.
That I even know she lies about her personal life is a problem in itself. I “smelled a fault” in her stories early in my acquaintance with her, which provoked my natural tendency toward playing Bluebeard’s wife. I admit that I’ve checked her stories versus information online about herself and some of the people she talks about. Yes, I’ve spent time enlightening myself about things that are not my business. I’m aware I should “get a life” and stop looking, but I think many people would be tempted to do the same in my shoes.
My husband warned me that I could discover something I wish I didn’t know (Bluebeard’s wife strikes again!), and he was not wrong in that warning. I know that my coworker is in the midst of a whopper of a lie, a lie of such epic proportions that I’m stunned she can craft such a tale and hold down a full-time job at the same time. In the past fortnight, she has fabricated the birth of a special-needs, born-at-25-weeks grandchild who was actually born full-term and healthy two months ago! She announced her daughter’s pregnancy to us the day after her grandchild was born!
Today she told me that her grandson weighs 2.2 lbs, is 9″ long and has an 80% chance of having Down’s Syndrome. And he was born this week, too. Apparently, he may be older than I am because today’s conversation makes me wonder if I was born yesterday.
I just let her talk, like I did a few months ago when I encountered a woman (outside work, btw) who told me the story of how she sustained a pregnancy at age seven complete with home birth and immediate, involuntary adoption of the baby. Sadly, the 7-year-old mother story is more plausible than the chances of a baby born healthy and yet reborn months later at 25 weeks with an 80% chance of a genetic trisomy (really?!? what hospital can handle an extreme preterm delivery that wouldn’t offer genotyping of a newborn at risk for genetic issues?).
What complicates matters at work is that her lies are circling the proverbial airport of actual struggles of some other coworkers, myself included. For instance, she told me a fictional name for her grandson today, and it was the same name that my late maternal grandmother gave a son that she lost late in her second trimester of that pregnancy. Worse, yet another of my coworkers, a person who is very, very dear to me, actually received a devastating, pregnancy-related diagnosis years ago at the same hospital the liar claims her daughter gave birth at this week. It’s like the liar is retelling the greatest loss my dear friend ever suffered and corrupting it with a false ending!
Has the liar become malicious or is she disintegrating into delusion? I wish I could tell my friend that I’ve discovered that life had broken the liar in our midst before we even met her, that her stories tell us no more of her heart than a trail of broken glass on the road speaks of a car accident. I do believe that the liar is broken, but the revelation of her fractures doesn’t do much to heal the hurt she is causing to my friend.
I’ve tried talking around the subject with the liar, trying to remind her through stories that it’s never too late to tell the truth. I retell the tale of how one of great-grandfathers lied about his identity and how blessed my family was to discover his real life story, even 80 years after his death. How much better things would have been had my grandma not lost 80 years of time with her father’s extended family!
It’s times like this that I must remind myself that Christ died for everyone’s sins. I try to see my dishonest coworker as Christ would see her, and I know that I am only beginning to understand the how vast the mercy and love of Christ is.