From where I sat, I could see the mailbox—and I checked it every eighty-seven seconds. This was the day that my first published piece was due to arrive, and I couldn’t wait to see my name in print, on an article that would be read by millions.
Well, thousands. Okay, hundreds. It was just a little article on raising teenage girls, published in the newsletter of my small denomination. But still—my own byline! I checked the mailbox again. A robin landed on its silver surface, built a nest, laid eggs, and taught its hatchlings to fly before finally the mailman arrived with a bundle of bills—and the newsletter.
I ran to the mailbox with a yelp, startling Mr. McFeely, and leafed through the newsletter until I found my article. There—on page four—“Modesty: The Forgotten Virtue”, by Gloria Baines.
I hugged the newsletter to my chest, causing a small storm of bills to rain on my feet. Gathering them up, I walked back inside, rereading the article that I’d already read roughly a bazillion times.
“…It is now appropriate to allow your 13- and 14-year old daughters to wear cleavage-revealing tops and ultra-mini skirts…”
It is now appropriate…?
Oh no oh no oh nooooooooo…
I tore to my computer and checked the Word file. The correct word was there: not. The error wasn’t mine.
But would anyone else know that?
As I quietly thumped my head on the computer, I heard someone enter the house. Thinking it was Jackson, home from his husbandly chores, I poked my head around the corner, hoping for sympathy.
A man wearing the logo of my conservative Christian university was removing my framed diploma from the wall.
“Wait!” I cried, but he was already gone.
What else could go wrong?
Minutes later, a UPS truck pulled into the driveway. A brown-uniformed fellow hefted a cardboard box onto my front porch, tipped his hat, and swiftly departed.
I don’t know who sent it, but it was a large boot attached to a swinging pole: a Kick-Yourself-in-the-Rear machine.
Worked pretty well, too.
After a lengthy session with the rear-kicker, and with Jackson nowhere in sight, I decided to run some errands. I gingerly hopped into the car (sore bottom) and drove to town.
Surely it was my imagination; as I walked downtown it seemed to me that people were turning their heads—staring—pointing—whispering behind their hands. And there, across the street—did that man’s sandwich board actually read BOYCOTT GLORIA BAINES?
I bought aspirin and chocolate at the pharmacy, then hurried back to the anonymity of my car. A low-flying plane drew my attention skyward; it was towing a banner that read GLORIA BAINES—WORST WRITER EVER.
I hid in my house the rest of the day, occasionally making use of my fun new machine. Jackson watched, shaking his head.
In church the next morning, I was horrified to see a horde of teenaged girls dressed in low-cut tops and miniskirts, grinning at me. Adolescent boys gave me the “thumbs up”. Parents scowled. I slunk home…
Well…okay, I can’t sustain this any longer. None of that actually happened. Except the typo.
What really happened is that I sulked for three days, imagining that my short-lived writing career was over. I had been humiliated, and worse, my credentials as an expert on raising godly girls were in question.
On the fourth day, the editor called me with an apology. They’d reprint a corrected version of the article, Mr. Rhodes said, and he asked me how I felt about writing a monthly column.
The typo had generated three e-mails and a phone call, all highly amused. One mother had asked if she should take her 9-year-old daughter to get her belly button pierced, or would a tattoo be better?
No one has ever accused me of being less than gracious. I accepted Mr. Rhodes’ apology and took the monthly column. You’re reading it right now—welcome, millions of new readers!
In the months to come, I hope to cover more meaty spiritual issues, particularly dealing with the family. For this month, though, I’ll leave you with this advice--stop kicking yourself. Here’s how Paul said it: But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)
Put that swinging boot in the garage.
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