Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)
TITLE: Living in a Fish Bowl
By Betty Farrow
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The last time we sat on the back row in a church service was the night that the words in the old song books were changed to read less than spiritual meanings. Some nosey church member told daddy that we were writing in the books. My brother and I spent the next two days with white out and erasers cleaning up song books.
“But dad, we didn’t do it.”
“You’re guilty by association,” he replied. “I’m disappointed you chose to allow the abuse of church property even if you weren’t directly responsible.”
I wanted to crawl under the pew Sunday when dad announced to the church that the youth had decided to have several fundraisers in order to purchase new hymnals for the congregation. I felt all eyes on me and my brother as we penitently sat on the second row from the front. How I hated the feel of living in a fish bowl.
Dad worked with the youth to plan the fundraisers and gradually encouraged them to join us at the front of the auditorium on our newly assigned pew. By the time we left that congregation there were 30 young people sitting at the front of the church, behaving!
We grew up playing in Sunday School classrooms while dad studied or held meetings. Often times we had to find things to entertain ourselves. One night the adults were using the classrooms so my brother and I wandered around the auditorium. My brother discovered that the gold rings that fit inside the communion holders on the back of the pews would easily slide out. He convinced me that the pews would look better without the tarnished gold. He was sure we could make something useful out of them so we removed all of the gold rings.
Well, wouldn’t you know that the Lord’s Supper was scheduled for Sunday. Imagine an auditorium full of people simultaneously placing glass communion cups in holes too big. Loud was the crash as they shattered against the old wooden floors, glass flying everywhere! One look at my brother and me and daddy knew we were somehow involved. There was no lunch for us that day as we had to sweep and mop and clean to get the auditorium ready for the evening service.
“But daddy, I didn’t know the cups would fall and shatter,” I exclaimed
“You have to think about the consequences of your actions before you do the deed,” daddy said.
We were assigned the job of cleaning the church for the next month to make enough money to replace the communion cups. Disposable communion cups replaced the original glass ones and some of the members are probably still complaining that the preacher’s kids ruined Communion.
Do fish have ears? I wonder as my fish tank seems smaller and smaller.
I could hardly wait to graduate. College was three hours from home and it spelled freedom for me. Finally I could be myself. The first time they announced a school dance off campus I knew I was going. Dancing was forbidden in most Southern Baptist churches and certainly preacher’s kids should not be involved in such activity. Tonight I would be a normal college student. Daddy need never know.
My second dance out on the floor, I stepped off the raised platform, wrenching my knee as I went down. The infirmary was too small to handle the injury so the college called dad! I couldn’t get by with anything! Not even miles from home.
It took several years for me to fully appreciate my dad’s wise parenting. He led his family like he led the church, firmly but with mercy and grace, dispensing discipline that matched the misdeed. I hope I have inherited some of his wisdom as I’m back in the fish bowl with my preacher husband and our two PK’s.
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