The Lipstick Lie

“The Lipstick Lie,” Friend, Mar. 2005, 39

The Lipstick Lie

(Based on a personal experience)

[God] hath granted unto us that we might repent (Alma 24:10).

Natalie liked to watch her mom put on makeup. “Can I wear lipstick, too?” she asked one morning.

Mom smiled. “Not yet. Makeup isn’t for children.”

Natalie tried not to frown, but Mom looked so pretty. Natalie wanted to see how she would look wearing lipstick, too. “I won’t make a mess,” she promised. “I won’t even touch it! You can put it on for me.” She puckered her lips and stared at her mother’s reflection in the mirror. “Please?”

“No, Natalie. You’re too young.”

Natalie stormed out of the bathroom and flopped onto her bed. She had been old enough to make a very important decision last month—the decision to be baptized. If she was old enough to do something that important, why was she still too young to do so many other things? She sighed. It didn’t seem fair.

On Sunday, Grandma and Grandpa came over for dinner. After the meal, while the family sat around the table talking, Natalie excused herself to go to the bathroom. Something on the bathroom counter caught her eye: Mom’s makeup bag.

“Mom won’t know if I try on her lipstick,” Natalie thought, “as long as I wipe it off afterward.” She peered down the hall and saw the adults still talking and laughing. Now was her chance! She closed the door and poked through the bag until she found Mom’s red lipstick. Smearing it on her lips, she gave the mirror a glamorous smile. “See, I do look pretty with it on,” she thought.

When the doorknob rattled, she realized she hadn’t locked the door. It opened a crack. Quickly, she slammed it shut again.

“Hey,” Dad called. “What’s going on in there?”

“Nothing,” Natalie called back. “I need to use the bathroom, but I forgot to lock the door.”

“Sorry,” Dad said. She heard his footsteps disappear back down the hall. Breathing a sigh of relief, she wiped the lipstick off.

At first Natalie didn’t think much about the incident. She had tried on Mom’s makeup. It was only for a few seconds. She hadn’t made a mess or ruined anything. No one had seen her.

But a few weeks later, during the sacrament, Natalie remembered slamming the door on Dad. “What’s going on in there?” he had called. “Nothing,” she had said. Not only had she disobeyed her mom, she had lied to her dad, too.

“Why am I thinking about this?” she asked herself crossly, trying to shrug away the uncomfortable feeling. “It’s no big deal.” As the sacrament tray came down her row, she silently said a quick prayer asking for forgiveness and tried to think about something else.

All week, she couldn’t shake the bad feeling. It only got worse. Every time she forgot about her little white lie, something reminded her again. When her third-grade teacher smiled, Natalie noticed her shiny red lipstick. When a classmate came in late, slamming the door behind him, Natalie remembered slamming the door on Dad. “This is silly,” she chided herself. “Forget about it!” But she couldn’t.

By the end of the week, Natalie was so worried she felt almost sick. “All this guilt over lipstick?” she thought. Why was her conscience hounding her over something so small?

“Heavenly Father,” she prayed that night, “please help me to feel better without having to tell Mom what I did. It’s not that important, and I don’t want her to know. But I’m really, really sorry. Please forgive me. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

She sat at her bedside waiting for the Holy Ghost to tell her that everything was OK, but she felt only sadness.

The next morning, Natalie knew she had to confess. She sat on the edge of her bed and took a deep breath. Even though she was determined, she was also scared. Slowly, she stood and padded barefoot down the hall to the bathroom, where her mom was getting ready for the day.

“Mom, your lipstick is pretty,” she murmured.

Mom smiled. “Thank you, sweetie.”

Natalie gulped. “I tried it on a few weeks ago.”

Mom raised her eyebrows. “After I told you not to?”

“When Grandma and Grandpa came for dinner, I came in here and tried it on. Dad almost caught me, but I told him I was using the bathroom. I’m sorry.”

Mom didn’t say anything.

“Are you mad?” Natalie whimpered.

Mom squeezed Natalie’s shoulder. “I’m disappointed because you know better. But I’m happy that you told me the truth.”

At once, Natalie’s prayer to feel OK again was answered. The worried feeling went away. The knot in her stomach relaxed. Even though Mom was sure to punish her, Natalie felt like smiling. Nothing could be worse than the guilt she had carried. She never wanted to feel like that again.

Even though she wasn’t old enough to wear makeup, she was old enough for more important things—like honoring the gift of the Holy Ghost and following its promptings.

Illustrated by Steve Kropp