Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Misbehaving in Church

Written By:  Lisa Collins Kight

Every Southerner knows there are a few transgressions that would never be tolerated by their elders:  speaking in a rude or disrespectful manner to anyone, using the Lord’s name in vain, and the cardinal of all sins, misbehaving in church. 
No matter how long the preacher runs over on his Sunday morning sermon you had better not misbehave.  If you have to pee, too bad!  You should have gone before church.  God forbid you should giggle or move around. 
We all knew and feared the punishment we knew would befall us.  I remember those awful mornings that I didn’t want to go to church.  Sorry…I just didn’t want to go sometime.  We would be forced to get up early, dress in an outfit that our mom picked out, and although she didn’t go, we were forced to attend church with Aunt Connie. 
Being raised Southern Baptist is a real treat.  I swear I can still feel the heat from the fire and brimstone being spewed from the preacher’s mouth in church on those Sunday mornings.  I never remember an amazing sermon that sent a message of love and acceptance.  Only if you don’t do______ you fill in the blank.  If you were ever at a loss, the preacher provided his “sin” of the week).  His message was loud and clear…you will burn in the fires of damnation and go straight to hell!  Isn’t that redundant?
I remember those never ending sermons like they were yesterday.  I remember that as per my usual, I wasn’t paying attention and my brothers eased me into the pew next to Aunt Connie and before I knew it, I was trapped!  I could see the gleam in my brother’s eyes right now.  Part relief and part joy because they knew I would pay the price if anyone, especially me, were to misbehave. 
There were times that I swear I almost blacked out from the pain of one of her pinches.  If you crossed the fine line that she drew, you were toast.  We all knew it.  She never even looked our way.  All I knew is her spindly fingers would reach right under the top of my arm and pinch me so freaking hard my body would go limp from the pain.  Seriously, I almost slid out of my pew onto the floor one Sunday.  I knew better.  Her flat fingertips would leave bruises on me, but no matter how bad, or how horrible the pain was, I would dare not make a sound. 
I remember one time I cried out, “Ow” when she pinched me.  I thought that I would get some sympathy and she would be shamed into not pinching me again.  I was wrong, oh so wrong.  At the moment she turned her pursed lips toward me I knew I had gone too far.  I could see my brothers’ eyes widen as they realized my fate.  I know now what the wrath of God must feel like or at least what it feels like to pee a little in your panties in church.  Not only did she pinch me again, she twisted my skin just enough to bring tears to my eyes and yes, the pee.
I reflect now and if anyone had even considered doing anything like that to one of my children I would have had them arrested!  At the very minimum I would have cursed her out and never, I mean never, allowed one of my children to attend church with that evil old woman ever again.  But noooo…those were the days when you did not question your elders. 
I realize why our current house of discontent within parent and child is in such disarray.  The old folks that abused the privilege and the rebellion of youth that got tired of it and started making it impossible for anyone to discipline their children.  This may be one reason I hardly spanked my kids.  To be honest, with the exception of two or three things for all four of my children combined, none of them did anything bad enough to get spanked. 
I loved that hateful old woman despite what she did to us.  I know she only wanted us to be god fearing Christians so we wouldn’t go to hell when we died, based on the preacher’s adamant affirmation. Personally, there were times sitting in that church I thought I was already there.
Once when I was sharing this funny story at Sunday dinner, I realized Aunt Connie didn’t see the humor as I recounted the time I peed in my panties from the pinch she had given me.  She was furious, although we were all cracking up.  I can see her now wearing the rose colored suit with the ruffles that she always wore.  She had her arms crossed and a blaze in her eyes.  I thought she would burst. I am sure she was thinking I would like to give you a pinch right now!  Seriously, we all laugh about it now.  We lived and perhaps are better people for the experience, but who can say.   


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