Today I was looking back on some of my childhood experiences, both pleasant an unpleasant, when I remembered a lie I told at church. I was about six or seven years old at the time when I told this lie, but looking back now I realize that it was a pivotal moment in my development.
I was at the church with my Mother and younger sister. My Mother was either in the relief society presidency or was the primary president. I can't remember which exactly, because she was always involved with some ward leadership position. Anyways, she had left my younger sister and I, who was two or three at the time, in the nursery to watch movies while she took care of her responsibilities with the presidency. My Mother told me that they would be in the relief society room and that we could find them there if we needed anything.
A couple of hours pass and my sister and I start to get restless. Our movie had finished and we were ready to go home. Plus, the weather outside was nasty and the church was dark. I've always found dark empty churches to be quite creepy, so I was a bit nervous as well. We wandered over to the relief society room only to find a dark empty room. So we decided to check the primary room to see if they were there. No luck, just another empty room.
We headed back to the nursery and my sister started crying when we got back. She thought our mom had left us. I told her to wait in the room and that I would continue searching the building for our mom. I eventually found them in the clerk's office. They had just finished their meeting and needed some information regarding their budget.
What happened next I don't quite understand. Perhaps I just wanted to test a boundary. I told them we were scared because we couldn't find them. They then asked how I found them and a lie came out of nowhere. "We were scared so I thought we should pray for help to find you." They were impressed with this answer. "He's so spiritually in tune!" "Wow, he must have really felt the spirit!" "You have a special son, Strykary's Mom!"
At first I was pleased with their answers. I was showered with admiration and kudos. But then this lie started to spread. As soon as we returned home, my Mom called my Grandma to tell her about the wonderful experience we just had. The following Sunday was fast Sunday and my Mom and the others from the presidency bore their testimonies about the truthfulness of the gospel using my story as supporting evidence.
My stomach knotted.
I knew I had deceived them. I never expected my lie to be so powerful. I don't know why I told it, maybe I wanted the admiration at first, or maybe I was trying to test a boundary. I quickly realized the consequences of that lie. Apparently, for someone my age to exhibit such a great sense of Mormon spirituality is a big deal. I never expected to get attention for something that, to me, seemed relatively miniscule. My Grandma, who lives in Utah, had also shared this story with my extended family and her ward.
When I saw what happened on Sunday and when I heard my Grandma sharing this story, I knew I had to tell my Mom the truth. I told her that I never prayed for guidance and that I just went from room to room looking for them on that rainy day. Her eyes got big and she became very angry. "Do you know how many people I told? How many people your Grandma told? Never do something like that again. We told your lie and are liars too." The truth about what happened remained between her and I.
I never did do it again. I could have never revealed the truth. I could have spiritualized nonspiritual events so I would receive validation and adoration from the people around me. I could have continued fabricating spiritual stories for superficial kudos, but I didn't. I never told a spiritual story again because I never had one to tell. I kept looking for an impressive experience like the exaggerated tales shared over the pulpit on fast Sundays, but I never once found one.