One of my earliest memories includes a secret hiding place, a frantic mother and my own startling realization.
Although we lived on a farm, our house sat at an intersection, where one county highway dead-ended into another. Because the road was fifteen miles from town, the few pick-up trucks that passed by took advantage of the 70 mile-per-hour speed limit and then some. Even at the age of three, I knew to be wary of getting too close to the road.
While Mother was busily pulling milkweeds out of her garden, I’d been making mud pies along the side of the house. Each discarded jar lid had been filled to the brim with a perfect mixture of dirt and water, then carefully garnished with a shasta daisy in the center of each. Setting them in my full sun “oven”, I went into the house to rinse the residue from my hands.
Since I was too short to reach the kitchen sink, Mother had tucked a stool underneath the cabinet for my necessary toiletries. Clean again, I slid the stool back underneath and noted for the first time how the stool looked like a little table within a tiny room. With imagination, the sink pipes became a room divider and I decided it would be the perfect space for a new play place.
I explored the area with the flashlight that my dad kept beneath for power outages and decided to close the cabinet doors to complete the feel of my imaginary world.
I heard my mother’s voice the first time she called, but since I hadn’t quite finished arranging the spray cans just right, I decided to wait a bit longer to reveal my fairy castle. As her voice came closer, I suddenly thought what a delight it would be to begin a game of hide and seek and I quietened myself for the find.
Within minutes, I heard my dad’s voice calling for me as well and realized that mother had invited him to join the game. What fun, as daddy never played hide and seek with me. As they frantically opened closet doors, I knew I had found just the perfect hiding space.
When Mother finally opened those cabinet doors, her frightened face took the fun out of the game. She scooped me into her arms and as she began to cry, I had my first experience with guilt. I didn’t know what I had done wrong, but something within me panged with remorse.
Over the next few posts, we are going to be exploring our sense of guilt. Is it helpful or hurtful? God-breathed or satan-induced? I hope you will join us as we explore what the Word has to say about this familiar, yet reproachful emotion.
By the way, what is your first memory of guilt?