If a person who has been a liar stops lying and asks Heavenly Father for forgiveness but doesn’t ask the person they lied to for forgiveness, are they forgiven? I know a person who is truly sorry and won’t do it again but just can not tell the person they lied. They lied just to get attention and no one got hurt. What will happen to them?
Thank you for your question.
As you know, lying is a misrepresentation of a subject, event, person, etc. If we have misrepresented ourselves to others, we have unfortunately lied. The other person has been deceived into believing something, big or small, about us that isn’t true. They in turn may have erroneously made assessments or characterizations about us based on that false information. I applaud your efforts to make things right before our Father in Heaven and ask his forgiveness. I would suggest that the mere fact that you are still concerned about this situation and bothered enough to send in your question is sufficient proof that perhaps there something more you should be doing to resolve this issue. That nagging feeling of guilt can come from the Spirit prompting us to take the final step to close this chapter of “lying” in our life. If a person has been a “liar” it would suggest to me that they have been lying fairly frequently over the space of some time. I am going to guess by the tone of your question that perhaps you are still in your youth. It is common to want to fit into a group or attract the attention of others by exaggerating or telling what we might consider to be “white” lies. Though this may be common in many circles, I would counsel you not to allow it to become a standard practice in your life. Again, I commend the efforts of anyone who is trying to “stop lying” and live life on their own merits versus those of fiction.
I would like to share with you the thoughts of Elder Marvin J. Ashton in a talk entitled “This Is No Harm”:
“It is a sin to lie. It is a tragedy to be the victim of lies. Being trapped in the snares of dishonesty and misrepresentation does not happen instantaneously. One little lie or dishonest act leads to another until the perpetrator is caught in the web of deceit. As Samuel Johnson wrote, “The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” (The International Dictionary of Thoughts, comp. John P. Bradley, Leo F. Daniels, Thomas C. Jones, Chicago: J. G. Ferguson Publishing Co., 1969, p. 348.) Those who become victims of this entrapment often struggle through life bearing their heavy burden because they are unwilling to acknowledge their problem and make the effort to change. Many are unwilling to pay the price to be free from the chains of lies. Some individuals may be very aware of the value of honesty and yet be unable to come up with the down payment.”
In a sense you have caught yourself in a small web of deceit. This web potentially holds you hostage as you try to rationalize the lie(s) as being harmless to others, “no one got hurt”. I would suggest that there are times when perhaps the lies we tell are in fact fairly harmless to others, however, in the end they will always be harmful to ourselves. What would be the harm in telling the person you lied to that it was a lie? Would you be embarrassed? Laughed at for lying? Be left without a friend? All of those are very real possibilities, but we need to ask ourselves are we really trying to “change” our ways? If we are, then what price (down payment) are we willing to offer to make that change. Even though several negative things may initially come from telling the truth, there are the positives affects too. You will be able to feel 100% good with yourself for unloading that burden. In fact the person you lied to might actually congratulate or thank you for your honesty. A sincere apology and explanation of the situation can go along way in asking for forgiveness.Take courage that in the long run, telling the truth and making amends is always the best course of action.
Again, I would suggest that if this nagging feeling continues to bother you, then you should act on it. When we sincerely repent and have experienced a “change of heart” we can almost literally feel a weight lifted from us. If this weight continues to hold us down, then perhaps there is still more we need to do. Please remember that we all make mistakes, even the person who was lied to makes mistakes. Even though we make mistakes, hopefully we can learn from them, move forward and become better people and followers of Christ.
Thank you for your questions JJ.