“Did you use my toothpaste?” Steve, the guy I was dating hastily emerged from the bathroom, toothbrush hanging out of the side of his mouth, as if on an urgent mission. The accusing question hung between us as if he had just discovered I borrowed his underwear or something.
Staying in the home of some of his friends for the weekend who lived near a ski resort, we had all just finished eating a great breakfast of pancakes together before making our way to the slopes. In all actuality, I had just used his toothpaste because I thought it was no big deal and that way I wouldn’t have to go fish mine out of my suitcase. Hey at least I brushed my teeth! Things could have been worse. But now I was beginning to wonder if he had a thing about his toothpaste — as if some invisible line of intrusion into his personal space had been crossed. All eyes in the room looked at me expectantly. A dozen irrational fears crowded into one second.
Whoa. He sure looks mad. Maybe he is going to take me out and plunge my head into a snow bank if I tell him the truth. His friends are giving me a funny look too. Maybe using people’s toothpaste is a more serious offense than I thought and they are all going to talk for years to come about “that girl who used Steve’s toothpaste.” Maybe this will be a relationship killer! I’ve never had anyone break up with me over using their toothpaste before!
“Nnno, why would I use your toothpaste?” I masked my fear with a feeble smile. Luckily he let the conversation drop and went back into the bathroom to finish brushing his teeth. Me? I covered up the little prick in my conscience with a rationalization: It’s just a little lie — what difference will it make tomorrow if I lie about using toothpaste? No one will ever know?
Later, when I had time to process the peculiar event, God began to speak with me about honesty in the “little things.” Reminding me of other situations in my recent past, I noticed a pattern emerging in myself that I didn’t like. When it came to people confronting me about my actions in ways I thought might bring about unpleasant consequences, I avoided taking responsibility. I had become afraid to tell the truth at times — afraid of being punished or rejected by people.
Even when it came to something as seemingly insignificant as toothpaste, God wanted an honest heart. Little lies easily turn into bigger lies — which eventually catch up with a person, killing trust in relationships and halting spiritual growth. God used my dishonesty in this silly situation to remind me that He was working to prepare me to be the right kind of wife for the godly kind of husband He wanted to give me someday. Before I could expect God to give me His best choice of a mate, I had to be God’s best choice of a mate for someone else. That meant no lying, no hiding the truth, no trying to get myself out of responsibility for my actions. This kind of behavior left unchecked would jeopardize an intimate marriage relationship.
So where did I leave off in the toothpaste story? Oh yeah?No one would ever know. I’d never felt guilty before about using toothpaste, but as the days and weeks wore on, so did my nagging conscience. I thought it was insane to be still rehashing my guilt over lying about using Steve’s toothpaste, but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t give it a rest. It was driving me crazy that I hadn’t told him the truth. I needed a clear conscience. I just had to squeeze out the contents of the tube, so to speak. In great humiliation and embarrassment I finally blurted it out one day on the phone while I had my hands immersed in hot soapy dishwater, hoping he wouldn’t even remember what I was talking about.
“Steve, I did use your toothpaste and I lied about it. I’m sorry.”
“Aha! I knew it!” he declared smugly, maybe even a bit gleefully. Most people would have been completely blank if you brought up something as insignificant as using their toothpaste a month ago and would have said, “Huh? Get outta here! I don’t know what you’re talking about.” But not Steve! He knew the instant it left my mouth exactly what I was referring to.
But now I was free. My clean conscience could finally be at rest like the dishes in the drain rack.
These days, I don’t have to ask to use my husband, Steve’s, toothpaste. He lets me use it anytime I want. He was the one God wanted me to marry — His very best choice of a mate for me. God used Steve that day to teach me a valuable lesson — to prepare me to be a completely honest wife. Luckily, I’ve never had to admit to wearing his underwear yet — he hasn’t asked!
Copyright © 2006 Julie Ferwerda, Used with permission.
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