Learning to Cope: How not to be Authentic

In the 5th grade something happened in the school cafeteria which I observed along with many other

English: Some ketchup on a plate, looking like...

students.  Two boys were playing with red plastic ketchup bottles after lunch before the bell rang and one of them figured out that if you squeezed the bottle fast enough and with enough pressure–you could make the ketchup hit the ceiling.  He did that a couple of times with many students looking on.

At the supper table that night  this topic came up and my dad was curious about what happened and who was involved.  So, he asked questions to find out what happened and who did it.  He then decided to call the principal after supper and tell him what happened.  When he came back to the den, not thinking about how it might play out the next day at school, he didn’t give me any advice or guide me about  anything to say if someone asked about what he told the principal.

Authority design

Though the boys who squirted the ketchup were in higher grades, the principal came to our class and asked about the episode.  He asked point-blank, “Did anybody see this and if so, who was involved?”   I felt responsible and cornered all at the same time.   I knew what my dad told him.  I knew the principal knew the source of the information.   I felt pressure to respond and so I did in front of the class, mentioning the boys by name.  Why the principal “put me on the spot” I never understood?  That’s the way I felt:  put on the spot with no alternatives but to tell the principal what he already knew!

The boy who actually squirted the ceiling was suspended for 3 days.  The other boy involved, was paddled.  Strangely,  the boy who was suspended said something to me one time about my tattling but that was it.   The boy, who was paddled, wanted vindication.  He taunted me every time he saw me.  It got to the point I dreaded going to school. I also felt guilty because I had squealed on them.   Later I realized maybe there were other ways to handle it but I didn’t and it was too late.   I was down on myself for not thinking faster of other ways to respond to my situation.

I wanted to make peace with both these boys and be their friend but I did not know how.  I became obsessed with getting out of this situation but I did not know a way and I did not have anyone to talk to about it–not even my sister.  So,  I just kept it to myself.

The incident lead me to conclude that communicating with those in authority can get you in trouble. Because two authority figures, my dad and the principal, caused this episode to play out as it did, I came to believe that authorities have ultimate control.

Even worse: I concluded that evil, bad, negative results will come from my good intentions. My good motives get distorted and negative comes from my attempt to do good. People over me don’t want to understand me nor my feelings, they just want control.   Another conclusion: authorities can’t be trusted.

I subconsciously took this vow: “avoid authorities, give them what they want but don’t interact otherwise.”

God is still working on these areas of my life. He has moved me forward in so many ways. For all that He has done, I am so grateful.

It could have been so much better. I could have responded better. I could have been coached differently by authorities in my life. However, I still hold to the truth that all things work together for our good and through all the good, bad, and otherwise, He gets the glory. That is what we all desire.


3 thoughts on “Learning to Cope: How not to be Authentic

    • It does have to do with forgiveness and understand that these situations caused me to respond differently to authority than a normal response. Prayer and faith help adjust my view of bosses and supervisors.


      • Amen. In my life, it was love, acceptance and forgiveness, not necessarily in that order. For whatever reason, I did not grow up with a totally healthy concept of these three core values. I, too, learned at the feet of the Master how to respond Biblically with respect to these values. Peace, brother! And thanks again for a great post.


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