A Big Fat Lie

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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.

Nothing.

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.

*This post was written in response to Mama Kat’s Weekly Writing Prompt. Head over there for some great writing!

15 thoughts on “A Big Fat Lie

  1. Carrie

    I remember telling little white lies as a kid. Mainly for survival (my older brother and I had a sort of pact: I wouldn’t squeal when he beat the crap out of me, he wouldn’t squeal about me swearing like a sailor…although now that I think about it, I bet my parents would have though the beatings far outweighed my potty mouth)

    Reply
  2. Jen

    My son is struggling with lying right now. I can only hope that someday, someone will influence him like your teacher.

    Reply
  3. Karen & Gerard Zemek

    Interesting that you got away with it and got to be with your friend for years to come. It’s sad that kids are often separated from their friends because of age or grade. That’s one problem kids have that adults don’t.

    Reply
  4. Liz

    So did you end up an entire year ahead in Sunday School? What did you do during the last year?

    Reply
  5. THE SARCASM GODDESS

    When I was in the second grade, my best friend and I pretended to be twins. Her name is Tabitha, mine is Kelley. We made up fake names for ourselves. I was Shelley and Tabitha was Kelley. We. Were. Awesome.

    Reply
  6. ReadyOrNot

    Oh this is so funny! What girls won’t do for a little sugar (or chocolate). New follower from the red dress club!

    Reply
  7. more than rubies

    First of all, love the Norman Rockwell picture. The likeness is quite remarkable ????

    Reply
  8. LeadingMama

    Love it. I hope someone catches my kid in a lie and gives him a lecture he’ll internalize. I know our lectures on the subject aren’t having any effect so far. Well, except to make him try to cover the first lie with a string of other lies. Sigh.

    Reply
  9. Miri

    Hi Hillary, thanks for stopping by! This post resonated with me in so many ways. First the sugar cubes… I remember getting caught stealing sugar because I left fingerprints in the sugar bowl!

    Reply
  10. hilljean

    Well, I stayed ahead for the whole year, and somehow, when my church switched buildings I was able to go to the right class. Thanks everyone for your sweet comments. ????

    Reply
  11. squidmom

    Hardly anyone ever talks about our ability to feel guilt at a young age. But some of the things I still feel bad for today happened when I was little. Loved this- love your writing period.

    Reply
  12. Stephanie

    He sounds like a great teacher. I’m sorry you had to deal with the guilt of lying to him all these years, but you and Becky are such a cute pair. Thanks for stopping by my place today!

    Reply

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