READY: The white lie church cake
I’m so glad that churches, temples, and synagogues around our great nation afford freedom of worship to sinners, hypocrites, and those who worry about what other sinners and hypocrites think of them.
As a founding member of the Sinners and Hypocrites Society, I know the pews would be mostly empty if only “good” and “decent” church-goers were allowed in.
I especially relate to contemporary parables which remind us of our dramatic attempts to maintain some holier-than-thou persona. Most attempts to fool others in this regard are usually doomed to comical failure. Confident that God has a sense of humor, I think He finds us fallible humans quite funny. Psalm 2:4 confirms it: “He that sits in heaven shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision.”
OK. I took that verse out of context, but I believe He looks down at us and laughs sometimes, at least those times when we’re not breaking His heart with our propensity for sin.
So, I tell a little story, not to attack fellow believers for being weak and/or self- righteous, but to say that we all can be drawn to that dark side of our nature that causes us to fib, prevaricate, exaggerate, aggrandize, or flat-out LIE in order to protect that personal image we want others to see.
Alice was supposed to bake a cake for the church ladies’ mission fund, but she forgot to do it until the last minute. Remembering it the morning of the bake sale, she rummaged through her kitchen, only to find an expired angel food mix in the back of the cabinet. She quickly made it while drying her hair, making breakfast, helping her son pack for scout camp, and getting herself ready for work.
When Alice took the cake from the oven, the center had fallen flat, and it was lopsided. There was no time or ingredients to bake another one.
That cake was important to Alice’s image because she was desperate to fit in at her new church, and in her community of new friends.
Being a problem-solver and not wanting anyone to find out that she wasn’t perfect, she thought about how to build up the center of the cake.
Alice found just what she needed in the bathroom — a roll of toilet tissue. She plunked it into the middle of the deformed cake and covered the whole thing with white icing. Decorated with red and silver sprinkles, the finished product actually looked quite beautiful.
Before she left the house to drop off the cake at the church and go to work, Alice woke her teenage daughter and gave her some money to buy back the cake at the sale the minute it opened at 9.
Arriving late, the daughter discovered her mother’s cake had already been sold. Amanda grabbed her cell phone to tell her mother the bad news. Alice was devastated. Everyone would know … what would they think? She would be laughed at and gossiped about. She would have to change churches, maybe even move away.
All night, Alice lay awake, thinking about people at church whispering behind her back and casting sly smirks at her. The next day, she promised herself she would behave as if nothing happened because she was invited to a fancy luncheon after church for her ladies’ Bible study class. This little soiree was to be held at the home of the mayor’s wife, who was married to the chairman of the deacons. Knowing her hostess was a gossip and a snob, Alice attended with some reluctance. As a single parent and not from any of the town’s founding families, she was miserably self-conscious. But having already RSVP’d, she couldn’t think of any good excuse to stay home.
The meal was elegant, and the company definitely upper crust Old South. And to Alice’s horror, the cake of her nightmares was presented for dessert.
Alice felt the blood drain from her body when she saw her cake. She started to rise from her chair and rush to her hostess with a full confession. But before she could get to her feet, the pastor’s wife exclaimed, “Oh, what a beautiful cake!”
Still in shock, Alice sank back in her seat when she heard the mayor’s wife reply, “Why, thank you, darlin’, I baked it myself.”
Alice smiled and thought to herself, “There is a God.”
Assuming such a story could have happened, one might wonder if God was slapping His knee and rolling on His celestial floor.
Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.