the hypocrite’s tale

Posted: June 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

I started teaching Sunday School, to get out of attending Sunday School.

 

I was in 7th grade. We had just moved – new town, new school, new church. It turned out I was the ONLY student in the junior high class. It didn’t take long to figure out why. My teacher would get out the book with a mournful look on his face. He would read from the lesson in a monotone that must have been the inspiration for Charlie Brown’s teacher. At the end, he would read the questions aloud. And stare at me, unblinking, expressionless, merciless until I gave an answer. And give no visual or verbal reaction to my answer, other than to move on, with the same expression, to ask the next question.

 

I only lasted a few weeks in that class. I don’t come from a family that drops out of things. But – HALLELUJAH – a need came along. Someone was needed to run the Sunday School class for the 3-year-olds. My little sister is 8 years younger than me, so I was well-versed in taking care of kids around that range. I knew how to keep them happy. I JUMPED at the chance – the refuge – of teaching that class. We had fun. We did Bible stories. We colored. We sang Jesus songs. We had chaos. We did arts and crafts. We grew marigolds for Mother’s Day gifts. The first time we participated in the Christmas Program, singing “Away in a Manger” in an orderly line at the front of the church, my pastor (who was the father of one of my students) came to me afterward with tears of joy in his eyes, telling me, “What-his-name (referring to my boyfriend, who he wisely preferred to leave nameless rather than calling him “that dumbass” or some other likely moniker) doesn’t deserve you.” If I recall correctly, other than a short break to attend confirmation class for something like 5 weeks, I stayed there as teacher in that classroom until I was 18, the week before I got married (not to what’s-his-name, but to a different what’s-his-name) and moved away.

 

I know a lot of people who don’t want to be in church because it is filled with hypocrites. I won’t disagree. It is! But then, if you’ve ever been ANY PLACE, ANYWHERE, that is not filled with hypocrites, I would challenge you to share. People are. It’s what we do, to some degree or another. We live and think and feel and act one way. We talk another way…we put on a front that is at least partly false. Oh, there is the rare person who at least seems to live up (or down) to most of what they project…but most of us are faking at least to some extent.

 

I was for sure a hypocrite in church, all those years as I functioned as teacher to the 3 year old classroom. I told the kids God and Jesus stories every week. I led them in singing “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World.” I gave my solemn promise in confirmation class to be committed to the Lord and the church. I went to youth group very regularly. I went to youth seminars. I helped out with extra activities. I sang the hymns with meaning and passion in my heart. I listened with interest to the sermons. I listened to Christian radio in the privacy of my bedroom, (for the teaching, not so much the music) where there was no one to notice.

 

And I was a hot mess. Sexually active at an alarmingly young age (and I have resigned myself at this age and stage to the fact that apparently I will NEVER on this side of heaven understand why that came to be so.) Connected to that, I was deceitful, sneaking around, sneaking out, lying to my parents and others on a steady and constant basis, acting in appalling ways with my boyfriend in public places, and much worse in private ones. My physical life was a mess. My thought life was a mess. My emotional life was a mess. I am kind of pre-set to “happy” or at least “content” as part of my in-born personality, but I still struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. I was a terrible example to my siblings. I wasn’t even real with my close friends about most of what was going on with me. I just put on the “nice girl” face and said what I knew to be the right things to say, and kept on wrecking my life (and hurting others, in the mix) at every turn.

 

Sometimes I was pretty good at sneaking and lying. Sometimes I was not. One time I stayed out all night instead of going to a 4-H lock-in for which I had signed up – that left the entire community talking about me, as the police looked for me all night (and at least 2 of my friends got talks from their parents, who were concerned about their friendship with me, based on my behavior – yeah, I was THAT kid.) A bus driver spoke to my boyfriend’s mother once about our behavior before school in the mornings. A teacher took me aside to once to speak on behalf of all the teachers, he said, to inform me that my (high school aged) boyfriend was not welcome to attend our junior high dances. Another teacher had a talk with her class, to tell them all not to be like me (this was 8th grade, I think, and you can bet the story got back to me in a matter of minutes).

 

Here’s the cool part about God: He didn’t quit on me, just because my out-of-control behavior was potentially besmirching His name (and isn’t that the charge we level against one another, when we go into correction mode?) He never stopped pursuing me, growing me, changing me, calling me, opening doors for me, opening truths for me. He never left me completely without options to be of service, to minister, to be used by Him, even when I was maybe the biggest hypocrite of all in the church.

 

The saints in the Old Testament sang it over and over: “Oh praise the LORD, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever.” I can happily, truthfully sing it along with every follower across all of time and space, because I have lived it, experienced it, benefitted from it.

 

He doesn’t quit on us, when we are hypocrites.

 

So…am I wiser than God? Why should I quit on anyone ELSE who is living that reality?

 

Magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.

 

 

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Comments
  1. laurie says:

    Very fresh pain as I read these words. Words have impact for blessing or curse. That teacher spoke a curse about you, on you, and to those listening. Teaching is to grow life long learners, cultivate a love for learning in the subject they are teaching. What a poor example that teacher was…..

    The bigger picture – God used it for HIS Glory and You are His Treasure. He used everything for Good, GLory, and Blessing of your life….on through you to others. That is a lesson and I pray that He keeps it up. You are a God Magnet! ly

  2. laurie says:

    Edit – God Magnet – You are a tool in God’s economy that draws people to Him. Your fragrant spirit causes others to stop and notice. What is it? Why is the response this way or that? Your words and actions point to Jehovah often without words, but when needed – Words too.
    – That is my definition of a God Magnet – you are a God Magnet.

  3. Stacy says:

    YIKES!!

  4. What a great blog, thank you for your honesty and transparency.

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