As I was on my way to Dallas last week for my best friend’s wedding, I found myself thinking back to my childhood misunderstandings of the Bible. The Bible and its life lessons can be very difficult to grasp at a young age, and from what I remember, I did my best to make the topic of sins, life itself, and Communion make sense to me.
Tally Up Your Sins
In school, I was learning how to count using tally marks. During the same period of time, I was learning about sins in Sunday School class. I knew sins were “when you did something bad”, like lying about if you brushed your teeth, or telling your mom you ate a healthy turkey sandwich while she was gone when really you made yourself a butter and jelly sandwich (gross). My Sunday School teacher also talked about baptism – the part in your life when you go under water and come back up and all of your sins are washed away because Jesus made the water clean them off, and no, the bathtub doesn’t count – that’s how I understood it at least. The concept of having sins then not having sins was confusing to me, and I wondered how God kept track of how many times I sinned in a day. Ah, He must use tally marks too, I thought. So with every teeth brushing and sandwich-making fib I told, I pictured a frustrated Santa Claus-like God (instead of wearing red He wore gold, obviously) tsk-tsking and shaking His head as He drew another tally mark on the “Holly’s Sins” page of his floating golden easel.
I’d like to think that my little brother adopted this same thought process since, after I truly understood the concept of baptism and was baptized, he followed me around for two weeks so he could keep track of how many new sins I committed – mainly the ones against him. So every time I didn’t let him into my room or raised my voice, he would yell out whatever sin number I was on: “That’s sin number six! Oooooooooo that is sin number SIX! I’m telling mom that you sinned again! Six is a LOT!”
We love each other now.
The Care Bear Bible
Care Bears were the best. Tenderheart Bear was my very favorite of all the bears, and I became a very dedicated fan. Sometime during my Care Bear love, I saw the Care Bears movie, cleverly titled “The Care Bears Movie”. I currently don’t remember anything about it except for Mr. Cherrywood, the father-figure of an orphanage. At the very beginning of the movie, Mr. Cherrywood is shown reading a story to the orphans about the Care Bears. While he’s reading, the story then switches over to the Care Bears, leaving Mr. Cherrywood to be the narrator of the story. My fascination with the Care Bears became entangled with my Sunday School lessons, and my thoughts about the two merged into one. Luckily my ideas about Heaven and God didn’t consist of God being surrounded by winged Care Bears and rainbow clouds. Instead, I thought for a brief while that perhaps God was reading a story to His angels about what I was doing on Earth. God was my narrator. He would sit on his massive sparkly throne, His angels fluttering from every which direction to sit at His feet just to hear about what little Holly would do next! I pictured God opening a book to Chapter 3, clearing His throat, and with a booming voice, read what I was up to:
Holly woke up and put on her house shoes. Holly went down the hall and into the kitchen to get breakfast. She was ready for the day! Holly was excited to see her animal friends outside.
My story always kept the angels highly interested.
Treasures in Heaven
I remember sitting in church and very much looking forward to the Offering, or rather, “the part with all the treasure”. It’s actually a miracle that this is the only portion of Communion that I took literally, seeing as it’s very rare for someone to lead Communion without noting the “eating of the flesh” and ” drinking the blood of Christ”. Somehow the symbolism managed to sink in and made total sense to me – flesh = crackers, blood = tasty grape juice. Easy peezy. The money part though, that’s what got me. I would watch the elder hold the glistening gold plate as he prayed over it, asking God to use our offering however He knew best; to accept it and help us to see that we are to store our treasures in Heaven and to give freely. His prayer concluded and all the gold plates were passed around, and I’d watch as my parents placed a check inside, occasionally handing me a dollar to add to the pile. After the plates had been collected, I would think to myself, “I hope God got a lot of treasure today!” and then I’d imagine what clearly happened next:
The plates were collected, and a chosen elder counted up the money. He then poured everything that was collected in a special wooden treasure chest and take it outside the church building to a secret treasure burial location. The elder placed the treasure chest inside a semi-deep hole in the ground, cover it up, and returned to our church services. Before church was over, God called upon the treasure and it would materialize to Him. When the elder returned to the secret treasure burial location, he found the chest empty, knowing God had stored our treasures in Heaven.
Sigh. Too cute, right?