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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Missing Kittens and Little White Lies

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

Photo by The Lucky Neko on Unsplash

I used to be a liar. Or was I a storyteller? The line is thin. My mom remembers little girl me convincing a babysitter that our mama cat had kittens. They’d wandered off in the house somewhere, and I was determined to find them. Together, we spent the entire evening searching every nook and cranny of our big old farmhouse for the misplaced critters. To no avail. When my parents returned from their evening outing, my naive sitter immediately informed Mom and Dad… Kittens?? My parents had no idea what she was talking about.

Around the same age I had an imaginary friend named Arnie—like the golfer, although I think this moniker was inspired by a favorite and distant cousin. Apparently Arnie was a bit of a troublemaker (the invisible one, not the relative) and he was regularly blamed for any and every indiscretion. Who made this mess on the kitchen floor? “Arnie did it.” Of course.

I didn’t grow out of it. Eventually I suppose I outgrew Arnie, but my habit of telling lies to save face or avoid trouble developed into a troublesome habit. Foolish white lies became my M.O. through my teen years and into young-adulthood. But then something unexpected and crazy happened. I was in my 30’s when Jesus miraculously blew the head off that snake.

True story.

It started with a miracle, which I’ve described in detail, many times before. You can read about it here. Long story short, God allowed me a good hard look in a truth-telling mirror. A crisis followed by so much LOVE and so much FREEDOM, I can hardly stop telling the story. It’s why I had to write a book.*

But what about the snake? Well, let me tell you my tale…

In the months following my “miracle” I began to long for something. I had become so aware of God’s love for me, and so convinced of the “new creation” He meant me to be—I started to desperately HATE my lying-sin. “This is NOT who I am—“ was the repeated petition running through my head. But I couldn’t seem to break the habit. I was stuck. It was like those little white lies, which in the past I could successfully ignore, took on a life of their own. Like the imaginary friend of my childhood days, these little trolls were out to get me. Without my permission they’d highjack my tongue and out they’d come. (I say this tongue-in-cheek, willing to take full responsibility for my very real SIN.)

And then. One weekend I was with my sister at a Christian conference, and I told her a Lie. A totally stupid, utterly unnecessary, and pointless fabrication. And as soon as I realized what I’d done—I got MAD. I was mad at my sin, and mad at my stuckness, and mad at whatever devil had its grip on me. But mostly—I was mad at me. And I gave God an earful. An earful of my sorry self and all my madness, and I begged Him, “I just want to be free!”

And He heard me—

Like I said, I was at a conference with my sister, and the last speaker on that day’s agenda was a well-known woman with a memorable story about a rattlesnake. (Sorry if this is a repeat. Like I said, these stories are just too good to stop telling…)

Beth Moore was the speaker that evening, and in her southern drawl she told us a story about walking in the woods with her dogs and her husband, when right on the path where she was heading, from out of the brush, sprang a rattlesnake. Dogs barking, Beth screaming, her husband lowered his gun (he just happened to have it ready for this very occasion) and he shot the head right off that snake.

Beth tells her story, leaning in close to her crowd of thousands, and I see her looking straight at me:

“That snake is your sin, and dear one, you need to know this—Jesus blew the head off your snake. It is over!”

And it was over. I mean OVER. I was free.

I’d be lying to say I never lied again, but never again did those lies OWN me.

Here’s why I repeat this favorite story. The Covenant Story can be summed up in this one sticky statement:

Jesus does for us what we could never do for ourselves.

Jesus blew the head off our snake.

Ironic, isn’t it, that my miracle began by understanding the sin of my own self-righteous pride. For a long time I thought the way to be Christian was to follow the rules and check all the boxes. Turns out I was wrong. Because when I was faced with my own devilish lies I was powerless to stop them.

But not Jesus. When Jesus died for our “sin problem” it didn’t end on the cross. Jesus would come alongside us and do for us what we could never do for ourselves. He would invite us to die with him—and then raise us to life. He would set us free to be whole and holy. “This is who I was meant to be!”

And that, my friends, is the best true story I have ever told.

*The Covenant Story: Trusting the Love of a Faithful God will be released later this summer.

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