One of my childhood memories is the family dinner table. My father tried to have everyone seated together at the supper table–even though that meant our meal was close to 7 p.m. because of my father’s store closing at 6 p.m. most nights, (Monday and Friday it closed at 9 p.m.). But we always had the same seating arrangement, everyone knew their seat. Mine was next to my father’s left hand…and that’s where today’s story will start, but first the events that made that particular day so memorable.
One of my most important life lessons from my father came when I was 7 years old and in second grade…It was time for “art class” where I was sitting with 2 other boys and 3 girls cutting paper for something. I have no memory of what we were supposed to be cutting, other than it was quite boring, so I had a brilliant (actually dumb) idea! To liven things up and get a laugh or two…I took my scissors reached up and took 2 big snips of my hair! It worked! Everyone at my table started laughing and having a great time! Eventually, it was time to clean things up and get ready to go home. As we were cleaning up, one of the girls from my table said, “That sure was funny, but I bet you’re gonna be in trouble when you get home because it looks really bad.” (I think that’s the day I also learned that girls mature faster than boys because that never crossed my mind!) I stepped into the bathroom to look in the mirror and I could see WHY THEY HAD ALL LAUGHED! I had a real situation on my hands now–because my father was the one who cuts my hair, and he knows exactly what it looks like. Fortunately, I had a ball cap to wear on the bus ride home, so I didn’t get any teasing from anyone on the bus. I probably got some sibling teasing, that’s normal but the really strange thing was-I don’t remember my mother saying a single thing about it!
Supper time came and we all took our seats around the table, my father glanced at my hair but didn’t comment. Usually, my father would read a Bible story or a devotional before praying for the meal. That night he read a story about Ananias and Sapphira from Acts 5:1-11. This was a true story about a couple who sold a piece of property and gave all the money to the church or so they claimed. In reality they kept some of the money but still said they gave it all to the church. Then my father cleared his throat and said, “They lied, and God struck them both dead as soon as they were confronted with it.” Then he read a verse, Proverbs 12:19 “Truthful lips will be established forever but a lying tongue is only for a moment.” Then he prayed and asked God to help all of us to always be honest and truthful in all we say and do. I was thinking, maybe he won’t say anything until after supper, after all he looked right at me and didn’t say-Suddenly, my father turned to me and sternly said: “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HAIR?” I froze. I just sat there thinking: Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth…he broke the silence with a stern “WELL?” I said, “What hair?” He said, “The hair on your head!” I then said, “Ahh, Ahh, Ahh, Umm, Wayne cut it.” Then he said, “You just sat there and let Wayne come at you with scissors and cut your hair?” (I nodded my head up and down without looking up) “And your teacher just sat there and let him do that to you, what if he poked your eye out or something? Well, I’m going to call your teacher right now and find out what’s wrong with her!” He stood up, went over to the phone on the wall just a few feet away. I remember my heart started pounding hard and fast and my beathing became rapid. What was I going to do? He spun that rotary dial and the rapid click click click click click sound as the rotary returned home with each spin, it was like machine gun fire-at me! After about the fourth spin of the dial, I blurted out, “I DID IT, I LIED.” He hung up the phone, turned to me and said, “Come on, the rest of you eat your supper.” I followed him up to my room, we went in, he shut the door and we sat on the edge of my bed. He put his arm around me and said, “I was hoping you would say you cut your hair, and I would have said it’s a dumb thing to do, don’t do it again. You see, I knew you cut your hair before you even got home from school because your teacher called and told me what you did. Why do you think I picked out that Bible story about lying and the verse about lying and telling the truth? I wanted to give you an extra reminder to just TELL THE TRUTH!”
My father explained that if people find out you lied about something, then they won’t believe you about anything. What he started telling me next really surprised me and even now almost 60 years later is hard to tell because his love is still so powerful. He said, “I do have to spank you for lying. But this will be the last time that I will ever spank you for lying to me.” (I was thinking, huh?) “I’ve tried everything I can think of to teach you how important it is to tell the truth. I thought maybe since you were working in the store some now, you might have learned how important honesty is. I’ve told you what God’s word says and everything else I know to try, so if you lie to me again, it will prove that I have failed you as your father and I will have to ask you to spank me”. I instantly burst into tears and hugged him because I couldn’t stand what I had done to cause him to say that. I guess it was about that time I received my spanking, although I don’t really remember that part. We both wiped our eyes and dad said, “Let’s go get some supper and after that I’ll trim your hair back up again!” Then he paused and put both hands on my shoulders and he said: “You came into this room a boy, but I think you are going out a man. And you know what men do when they reach an agreement? They shake hands, so let’s shake hands like men.” That was the last time he ever had to spank me! What a lesson! What a father! What a man!
Till Next Time…..