The feeling of guilty regret is a familiar one to us all. Pretty much from Junior High on (because that’s when we REALLY start to care) we find our conscience and memory loaded with regretful encounters, poorly chosen words, and a host of other bad experiences that manifest in a culmination of guilt.
But when does this feeling first take over? Do you remember when you first really regretted something?
|This is just to give you an idea of what I was like as a kid.|
Today I’m going to tell you the story of a six year old girl, sunday school class, and sugar cubes.
It was right around the time of “Graduation Sunday,” the day where kids get bumped up to the next grade level for their sunday school class. My best friend was a year older than I, and we were always conniving and plotting for ways to be together. We kinda looked alike at the time, and so we would dress up like twins and lie to people on the playground.
“Yah. We’re twins. We know everything we’re thinking at the same time. Blah blah blah. Lie lie lie. See, we even have matching shirts!”
Anyways, back to sunday school.
Becky moved up to the 2nd grade class. I was supposed to go to the 1st grade. Well, being the evil masterminds that we
are were, we decided that I should just sneak into her class and cheat the system.
It was a great idea.
First, we would be together. Double the fun…And then there was the added bonus of location.
It’s all about location, folks.
The second grade sunday school class was strategically located by the adult fellowship hall, where gorgeous tables were laden with donuts, coffee, and…wait for it…SUGAR CUBES!
Why can’t I find sugar cubes anymore?? Why?! Honestly, Starbucks. Why haven’t you jumped on this yet? Do you even know what this would do for your business?!
Becky and I would hoard sugar cubes (and communion cups) like it was Y2K.
We’d pack them in our pockets, little girl purses, and socks. Ok, maybe not the socks. We weren’t smart enough for that.
Our plan was seamless: sneak me in to the 2nd grade class, steal sugar cubes, and live happily ever after.
“Hillary, aren’t you supposed to be in the first grade class?”
Gulp down a mouthful of suddenly cemented sugar cubes.
In chimes Becky, “No, she’s in second grade like me.”
Sweat trickling down to my frilly cuffed socks and patent leather MaryJanes.
“Are you sure you’re in second grade, Hillary?”
“Mmm hmm. Yep. Just like Becky.” (Here I thought about incorporating our twin story and then shrewdly decided against it. Wise child.)
And then came the lecture.
I rehashed it in my mind over and over again. I would try to get away from it. Sometimes, I’d be “depressed” in my little childish way and go take a bath. I’d sink into the water and hope that if I was completely submerged the guilt would go away, and I wouldn’t hear Mr. Hernandez’s voice anymore.
I don’t remember his exact words. But I do know it went something like this–short, sweet, and painfully to the point:
“Hillary, if you aren’t really in second grade yet you will be lying to me. Lying does not please God. Only you and God will know if you’re lying right now. You can tell me now if you’re really supposed to be in this class, because if you aren’t you need to go back to the first grade class. Ok?”
Then Eden sank to grief.
“No, Mr. Hernandez. I’m in second grade.”
I think the thing that made this particular episode stick in my memory was the look on his face. I wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box, but I could tell that he knew I was lying.
I went home and waited for my parents to broach the subject.
Next sunday, still nothing.
Hmmm. Is it possible I’m gonna get away with this?!
And it went on and on until I skipped up to the third grade with everyone else. Mr. Hernandez never said anything to my parents. Maybe he didn’t care that much—probably he forgot. I never told my parents. In fact, if they read this, this will be news to them.
I had many faults growing up–I was a stinker. But lying was not my problem area. Obviously, if you read this blog, you’ll gather that I struggle with too much honesty.
My “areas of improvement” included keeping my opinions to myself. (Now I have a blog and don’t have to.)
I think that’s why Mr. Hernandez’s lecture has haunted me to this day. I felt like such a cheat when I looked him in the eye and lied.
I paid for it too. I’m serious–as much as a 6 year old can agonize, I truly agonized over it. I remember even crying because I felt so awful, but being so embarrassed that I could never tell him the truth. I held on to that secret for years, and it bothered me just as long.
One of these days, when I go home to visit my parents, I’m going to find him and tell him the truth. And thank him for being a really nice guy and not tattling.
The phenomenon of guilt is actually a great thing. I wish I would have confessed and apologized. I wish I would have known the joy of feeling forgiveness, absolution, and release at six years old. As an adult, I feel like I get this on a daily basis.
I will always remember Mr. Hernandez’s lecture. It’s truly a great lesson as an adult to see yourself as the helpless, ridiculous, and ornery child. How much has changed? How much grace do I still require?
|Becky and I in Junior High: eating pizza while we applying Biore Nose Strips. How redundant.|