There is a familiar passage in the book of Matthew that says this. “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” And even though I know without a doubt, there is 100% inerrancy in this Scripture, I am struggling to believe (and maybe it doesn’t) that there can be NO truth in the first part of this verse. Because as it stands now, I have two cases, in very similar scenarios, revealing times where my character was indeed “defiled” by what I would put into (or wanted to put into) my mouth. It was after posting this very dishonorable story , that my conscience was not slow to remind me of yet another time the possible pleasures of pumpkin flavored goodness put my morality to the test; and not surprisingly, I failed.
And real quick, a little fyi; I looked it up and discovered that a pumpkin is a fruit (did you know that?). For now, just hold that fact in the back of your mind, it will be used later.
Anyways, it is nearing Christmas time. Rob, the girls and I are all out running holiday type errands and shopping for gifts. Hours into our outing, we see the all too familiar green circle coffee-shop sign with the face of a woman and her flowing hair outlined in white. One shouldn’t have to think long to know which logo I am referring to. It is the one where the lady figure in the center of the sign has that smile of pure contentment; suggesting to all who pass by that they should enter in, buy her brews, and then be equally happy (bewitching almost…). And it is because we have been feeling very generous spending money on others this day that we consider it justifiable to enter this establishment and purchase something with which we can treat ourselves to.
I need to take a brief pause from the flow of this story to make you aware that this “treating” truly is something rare that we don’t often do. We have been living frugally on a tight budget for many years now and we allow ourselves a very limited dining spending allowance (two starbucks alone would use up a fourth of our alloted monthly funds for restaurants). So it is a big deal to decide that we would find a way to not sacrifice our eating-out money for some lattes.
OK, back on track. So with this decision, I am bouncing out of the truck and running into the shop to get some drinks for Rob and me. As I wait in line, there is enough time to notice all the edible delights they have on display; cheesecakes, over-sized brownies, carrot cake muffins, donuts, eclairs…YUM! But there is one baked item in particular that strikes my fancy; the seasonal pumpkin loaf bread. I can feel the drool sensation begin to hit me. But our planned purchase was only for the drinks. That means, if I am to indulge, I will be required to withdraw an extra amount from my own limited spending money to satisfy this craving I now have. I reason, however, that for a slice of this highly desirable pumpkin loaf bread, it is well worth it.
Back in the truck, Halle (not quite three years old at the time) is curious about the items I returned with. She is already accustomed to mommy and daddy drinking various “adult drinks” and knows from past requests, that coffee related beverages cannot be sampled by her. But she spies the brown bag I have and wants to try her luck with a taste of whatever contents might be found within. The dreaded question comes when I put my seatbelt on and start opening up the bag, “Can I have some?” Now I love my baby girl DEARLY, but to share or not to share at this moment (with this particular possession that I want to savor solely by myself) should not be an indicator of an action that would display that deep and passionate love for my daughter. I mean this kid would be perfectly content with a stick of gum, a marshmallow, an m&m; any little morsel would suffice to make her feel like she has received something of great value. And I can arrange for that to happen (at a later time); she doesn’t need some of MY bread to feel loved. Still, I don’t want to say, “no” to her (I want to be a good model of sharing and all – rules for good parenting – blah blah blah…) So I manage to say, “Halle, I would love to give you some” and reluctantly a little piece is broken off and handed back to her.
“Mmmmmm, this is sure good. Can I have some more?”
What to do? What to do?? I choose to respond with, “Sorry little one, there is no more for you” (this choice I made to add the “for you” part makes my remark true, no lies told, right?). But Halle is a smart girl and my reply is not a plausible one. I think she knows that I could not possibly have already finished my bread. So she asks me to SHOW her the bag. Grrrrrr…. I don’t have time to remove the bread as she is watching my every move. My mind thinks fast and I quickly grab the bag at its center. This allows the remaining contents of my pumpkin loaf slice to be concealed in the bottom half of the bag while the top part is now almost in exact appearance of what an empty sack would look like. “See baby, doesn’t the bag look empty?” I make the opening very wide and allow her to see and conclude for herself that there is nothing there, the bread appears to be gone. But, this smart two year old is still not convinced. She tells me she wants to HOLD the bag. As you can see, it is becoming more and more difficult to take pleasure in eating my pumpkin bread, but I am not giving up yet. I bring the bag back in front of me and am now forced to empty it. Hidden by my purse, out of site from the eyes of this too-smart-for-her-age preschooler, I remove the slice. “Here Halle, you can have the bag. See it is empty. There is no more bread for you to have.”
In letting her first SEE the “empty” bag and then HOLD the empty bag, I have evaded her skepticism. She loses interest in pursuing the matter any more and starts to talk with her dad. I feel in the clear, the bread is mine (mine. mine. mine!!!) But in order to remain above reproach and continue to thwart the truth to my daughter, I now have to eat the remains of my bread in secret. Sitting in the passenger side in the front of the truck, with Halle in the back, in the middle seat, the profile of my face is clearly in her line of sight. If I were to sit normal and put anything in my mouth, she would take notice. Because of that, I am not able to enjoy my bread in a preferred manner. And with every bite, I have to either bend over to look down at the floor of the truck (staring at all the typical grime and yuck you would expect to find where dirty shoes rest) or I have to hold up my purse on my left shoulder and turn my head to take a bite. Neither option provides me with the most gratifying way to relish the taste of such a delicacy. Instead, with each bite consumed in secrecy, there is the bitter flavor of shame for not sharing with my daughter. UGH! Another goodbye to my vanishing virtue!!
So with this new story fresh in your mind involving another propriety-lacking plot prompted by a pumpkin; you can help me determine if perhaps it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that, for me, this orange gourd should be a “forbidden fruit” (a fun play on words, yes? )