I stopped liking Grandpa Jerry after that morning.
And (that) church for the most part too.
Jerry was a leader in the youth group I attended every Sunday morning (plus Sunday and Wednesday nights). As the oldest leader he was deemed Grandpa. A good guy for the most part.
During the summer, all us teens would gather at his home for “Mud Wars.” He’d water down the acre in front of his house till it became a mud pit. There we’d play football, capture the flag, and had general mayhem for a day. Then rinse off (which now the thought disgusts me) in the canal / cow walk next to the field.
But one morning at youth group…Jerry was stupid. He told us that big bad God in the sky would punish us with acne for being sexually active.
I was 13, maybe 14.
My acne was terrible.
Terrible as in I took tetracycline and put burning sulfur liquid on my face.
And I was a good girl…
But there I sat humiliated among my perfect complexion friends.
Jerry went on to tell a story of a girl who was “active” but then she talked with Jerry and he helped her pray for forgiveness. She took a vow, wrote a pledge, and stopped “messing around.” Like magic her acne went away. (okay magic is my word)
Jerry also told us that if we needed help, we should come tell him of our “sins” so he could pray with us. At that age it struck me as odd that he should have any details of me or one of my friend’s “activity.” And now it just seems pervy.
That morning, I wanted to crawl under my chair. Maybe that kissing I did, you know “french style”, was “too far.” I was boy-crazy after-all. Maybe that was actually being sexually active. Maybe that’s why I had zits. Oh and there was that boy that touched my boob. So…
But this acne infomercial wasn’t what made me hate Jerry.
Jerry then called a girl to the stage.
We hadn’t seen Yvette for several months. Presumed she moved, since we didn’t see her family either. When I saw her walking towards the stage I was shocked at how fat she was.
Then I saw her profile.
Oh my gosh.
Yvette got on stage and began to speak about how it happened. Her parents finding out. Her sin. Her shame. Why she wasn’t at youth group. And it was horrible. I felt like I shouldn’t hear any of this. I felt like Yvette was coerced into talking–or else why would anyone get on stage and speak of such things?!
And when she was done, she sat down and Jerry proceeded to explain that Yvette was “in sin.” That he didn’t want any of us “in sin.”
We never saw Yvette again.
THE BIG BAD SIN
That morning and for a long time I wondered when Yvette would be out of sin. Does she stay “in sin” because of the baby. Was it like that book I read about the woman who had a scarlet letter A on her clothes? I couldn’t dare ask–the whole thing made me sick to my stomach. And I grew to hate Jerry more and more.
Once he mentioned my acne to me. I died. It would be enough that I was so self-conscience about my zits. But then I recalled “the talk” and realized he was hinting around at my flirty ways. And I hated him even more. Sin. In-sin. Never-ending-humiliation.
Now I get it, I understand. While Grandpa Jerry was nice, and did great things, and looked like a role-model member of the church, the fact of the matter was…Grandpa Jerry didn’t have grace. If he did, he wouldn’t make sweeping statements about zitty kids. Or have Yvette on stage…only to keep the scarlet letter on her till…who knows when? He wouldn’t have tease me about my acne, and he would have never insinuated that the Creator of life and love was out to individually punish kids who were running the bases.
Wow. Really? REALLY?
And the sad thing is, there are Grandpa Jerrys…everywhere today.
Sometimes we all have a little Grandpa Jerry in us.
Grace is a funny thing.
Grace is humble.
It forces you to let set aside your righteousness and ego.
(especially your ego)
It’s not to be confused with ignorance, blind tolerance, and disregard.
Grace says, “I honor you.”
Grace says, “Namaste.”
Grace is Jesus-y. Doubt it, and let’s talk about the woman at the well…
Grace gets more tricky when it can say with a pure and honest heart, “I see you, I hear you, we may not see eye to eye–but I STILL honor you.”
Grace doesn’t protest against others rights.
And it certainly doesn’t let you protest in your heart either.
Grace doesn’t allow you to beat yourself up because you didn’t do this, that, or the other. Grace says, “When I’ve learned, when I’m shown, when it obeys a law of love, THEN I will then know better how to do next time.”
Grace doesn’t allow you to take matters into your own hands when no laws are broken. And it forces you to let the natural order of things occur. The only “helping” hand you extend is one of humble love.
Grace practiced, shown, demonstrated as part of your every day life will become–at times–effortless. That’s when you’ll know it’s sunk deep into your soul.
Sweet soul, I hope it just keeps sinking.
Because is grace is an ocean, we are ALL sinking.
We. should. be. sinking.