By Hannah Nelson – associate pastor, kids and families
An honest witness tells the truth, a false witness tells lies. Proverbs 12:17
Growing up there were three families that hung out together all the time. We would celebrate birthdays and holidays together, have pool parties and game nights. We would even plan camping trips together. Out of all the kids, though, I was the only girl. I had two brothers, and the other two families had a total of 5 children, all boys. This suited me just fine because I was not a “girly-girl”. I was just one of the gang, and we had a blast together.
One of our favorite places to meet up was Carl’s Jr. What can I say? We all liked to eat, and it was the perfect place for the grown-ups to spend time catching up with conversation while we kids found our own ways to stay distracted. Often this involved playing small pranks on each other, playing games with spinning coins, and making jokes about each other. One day, I will admit we were getting a little rowdy (more than usual) and I found myself in an awkward situation.
The four older kids, which included me, were sitting at our own booth. We had finished our food and exhausted our normal antics, so we decided to entertain ourselves in a new way. We had a bunch of unopened ketchup packets, the ones that you rip off the top and squeeze out the contents onto your fries or burger. For some reason (you know kids don’t often think through their actions first!) we thought it would be fun to see how hard you could squeeze a packet without having it explode. Like I said, we weren’t thinking at all how this could end up as a bad idea. Well, I picked one up and slowly began to squeeze it. The pressure began building up and I could see the seams of the plastic trying to stay intact.
The next thing I knew, the ketchup packet popped! My friends at the table had these goofy looks on their faces as they began laughing hysterically, covering their mouths to try and hold in the noise. I was trying to figure out was what so hilarious and they began to point behind me. I turned around and my stomach dropped at what I saw. On the back of the man sitting behind me was a huge glob of bright red ketchup on his, otherwise perfectly clean, white button-down shirt. Amazingly, he hadn’t noticed the ketchup hitting his back and he continued eating his meal. He was seated alone, I am pretty sure he was on his lunch break and would need to return to work, and no one else had noticed the “incident”.
Of course, I instantly felt guilty and embarrassed! I knew I had to let this man know what I did, but my lame friends were not about to help me with my confession. They were fine with not saying a thing. It took me a couple of minutes to work up the courage to tap the man on the shoulder, explain what I had done, and apologize for, possibly, creating an unsightly stain on his shirt. To my surprise, his reaction was calm, and he wasn’t even angry with me (though I cannot say the same about my parents). He assured me it would be fine and that he had enough time to stop at home to change into a clean shirt. I was so relieved!! What a great lesson I learned that day. Being honest and admitting my mistakes is the right way to go. Some of our mistakes will reap consequences but, sometimes, they may be an opportunity to receive a bit of mercy. Now as an adult I can remember the dumb stunts I pulled as a kid and extend that mercy to my own children and their friends. No one is perfect, and we all need a little extra mercy once in a while.