What I Learned in Sunday School

I used to attend Sunday School as a brat – United Reformed, then LDS. Not willingly, of course, I mean what kid can’t think of something better to do? I used to think that they talked a lot without saying much, and every week I held my breath and watched the clock until it was all done and I could go home. That’s where I learned about the relativity of time – how things you enjoy seem to take a lot more time from your life than things you don’t. I used to think it was some kind of fiendish plot.

The vicar, pastor, teacher – pick your poison – would prattle on about Moses, Jesus, Jacob, imparting wisdom and knowledge through metaphor and supposition. None of it made any sense to me. I didn’t get, for example, how God could justify asking Abraham to kill his son – I mean, by the blissful simplicity of the young mind, what if he told my Mom to kill me? It was a silly thought, but to me it was real.

There is only one thing I remember from Sunday School that resonated, and still does: that’s when they talked about temptation. It’s hard to conceive as a youngster what they could possibly mean – with all that innocence in the way – but it resonated nevertheless. The vague notion of some evil part of me, as yet undefined, some secret need or desire, like eating too much candy or stealing a bike. It frightened me. As much as I wanted to grow up, I did acknowledge the simplicity of life – acknowledged it without really appreciating what it was.

The fundamental notion of temptation was what created fear in me – good fear – respect for the power of my decisions – my personal ability to cause harm or do good just by the position of my switches: it was the birth of a conscience which has stood me well through the years.

From the notion of temptation I’ve learned one important thing: Actions have consequences, no matter how insignificant; every action has an equal and opposite reaction; life is not consequence-free, no matter how some parents try to make it so. Alright, that’s three things.

I believe this: kids must have boundaries. They should have everything they need, but they must NOT have everything they want. They must understand that the choices they make can impact not only themselves, but also those around them.

May all your mistakes be small.

J

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