98: Liar, Liar

98: Liar, Liar

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Middle School

Liar, Liar

There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience.

~French Proverb

The first time I met the guy at the swimming pool, I didn’t know he would change my life. He oozed muscles and dripped handsome all over the lifeguard stand. When my sister, Ouida, and I entered, she stopped to pay, but I just walked in as if I weren’t twelve years old. The lifeguard raised one eyebrow and grinned at me.

“Are you sure you’re only eleven?” he asked.

I nodded sheepishly, afraid he would guess the truth—that I was just too poor to pay. Visiting our older sister, Ruth, for the summer, we spent our days at the pool and our evenings at church youth activities. Every time I passed the cute lifeguard, I had to act eleven, while my sixteen-year-old sister flirted non-stop.

The problem was further complicated at church. To be in the youth department, I had to be thirteen. It seemed only fair to me that if I smudged the truth to go swimming, I should at least smudge the truth to go to church.

We had lots of fun all summer until the church youth retreat. I left the cabin, heading for the dining room, when I saw him.

“Oh, no!” I cried and pointed at him as if he were death itself. “The lifeguard from the city pool.” Heat flooded my face. “What’s he doing here?”

“Wonderful!” Ouida squealed.

“He’ll know I lied,” I whispered in humiliation.

“He won’t even remember you, Twerp.”

“I can’t go in there.” I turned and went behind a row of trees.

“You’ll miss supper,” Ouida said as she rushed into the dining hall.

I hid in the trees and hoped he would leave soon.

“Peggy,” Ouida called through the trees. “He’s staying the entire weekend. He’s one of the youth leaders. You’ll have to see him sooner or later.”

“No, I can’t.” Tears burned my eyes. Shame felt like a lump of fat in my throat. Darkness crept across camp as singing and laughter floated through the night air, but I felt as if I couldn’t join in. Liars didn’t belong in the church youth group and I was a liar.

“Peggy.” The deep voice calling through the trees shook me as if it were the voice of God. “Peggy,” the Lifeguard called louder.

“Yes,” I whispered.

“Hey, sweetheart,” he sat down on the log beside me. “Why are you hiding from me?”

“I lied.”

“Yea, I know.” He tugged on my ponytail. “I forgive you.”

“How can you forgive me? I’m nothing but a liar.”

“The Bible says that if we confess our sin, He is faithful and will forgive us and clean us of all unrighteousness.”

“I confess! I really do,” I cried. “I won’t ever go swimming again unless I can pay.”

“Then it’s forgotten. If God forgives you, then I do too.” He squeezed my shoulder.

“But... there’s more. I’m really too young to be in the youth group. I’m twelve. I lied.”

“I wish everyone was as eager to get into church as you are.” He stood up and took my hand. “Let’s go in and tell the pastor. He has a very big heart. I bet he’ll forgive you too.”

He did.

~Peggy Purser Freeman

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