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Born to Be Wild: Rediscover the Freedom of Fun

(New Hope Publishers)

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Sweet Lies and Lollipops

By Jill Baughan Have you ever done something destructive in the name of fun? Many people have, at one time or another, which is ironic, because fun isn’t supposed to hurt at all; it’s supposed to be liberating and … well … fun. But most of us have probably been guilty of gossiping or teasing some kid who was different in some way. As we grew older, the damage may have involved alcohol or drugs or sex. Regardless of the type of your destructive “fun of choice,” you probably found out pretty quickly how abusing your freedom to choose by choosing the wrong thing actually takes the freedom away and locks you up—physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. Always a lazy little goof-off at heart, I learned this the hard way at the tender age of five.

I loved sweets, especially Dum-Dum suckers, and used to sneak them out of the candy dish in the kitchen and off into the living room, where I ate them while I watched TV. Knowing that I would get into trouble for my contraband food, though, I had to be creative in hiding the evidence—the sticks and wrappers. This required a little trial and error in my mind: Should I stuff them between books on the bookshelf? No good. You could see that the books weren’t closing all the way. Should I shove them under the couch? That would be okay, as long as my mother never ran a vacuum cleaner there. She often did, however.

Finally, I came upon a brilliant plan. My parents’ bedroom was right off the living room, and the door was conveniently located close to the TV. On the back of the door hung a full length mirror: the perfect place to hide the evidence! I was jubilant, because I figured that I could probably hide wrappers and sticks behind that mirror till I graduated from high school, and no one would be the wiser.

Of course my mother discovered them one day and told my father, and he called my brother and me into the living room for a confrontation. Since my brother, Ted, was six years older than me, knew everything, and was innocent of the crime, I decided that I’d follow his lead in responding to Daddy’s interrogation.

“All right, who did this?” he asked, looking us over for incriminating facial expressions.

“I didn’t do it, honest,” said Ted.

“I didn’t do it, honest,” said I, doing my best to look wide-eyed and innocent.

I could tell he was surprised that neither of us was willing to confess, and I wondered what on earth Daddy would do about it. Punish us both? Or take a guess and punish the more likely liar, since he had a fifty-fifty chance of convicting the real criminal? The last thing I expected him to do was what he did.


After a minute of looking back and forth at us, he simply said, “Okay,” and he let us go.

I couldn’t believe it! I was off the hook! Guilty, but not charged!

Life was good … for a while … about five minutes, maybe. I then started to feel as guilty as I was. All day I avoided Daddy at all costs, my heart pounding. Around two in the afternoon, I was playing (okay, hiding) in my bedroom, when he appeared in the doorway. He only wanted to ask me something entirely unrelated to The Deed, but as soon as I saw him, my guilt reflex kicked in. In a panic, I threw my hands up in the air like I’d been caught robbing a bank, and shouted, “I didn’t do it, honest!”

I think this is what tipped him off.

Still, he said nothing to me about the matter; he only wanted to know how I was doing.

I lasted about three more hours: three more hours of beating a hasty retreat out of whatever room he entered; three more hours of explaining to Barbie and Ken why I was forced to tell an untruth to my father; three more hours of imagining the spanking to end all spankings that would surely be mine if I owned up. Finally, around 5:00 p.m., I could stand the tension no more. I would confess, I decided, because anything was better than this distance I had put between Daddy and me, not to mention the anxiety that was destroying every effort I was making to have a Saturday of quality play.

Nervously I tiptoed into the kitchen, where he was sitting at the table with my mom. Before I could say a word, he motioned me to come to him. Bracing myself as I made my approach, I thought, “This is it. I’ve been had. I might as well gear up for the spanking of my life.” To my surprise, though, instead of turning me over his knee, he picked me up, set me in his lap, and whispered in my ear, “Why don’t you tell Mommy it was you who put those sucker sticks behind the mirror?”

At that invitation, my heart burst, and I cried tears of relief, confessing that I was the one who did it and deserved to go to jail. Fortunately, he didn’t think jail was warranted; he just let me sit on his lap till I calmed down. Then he took my hand, led me into the bedroom and said, “Why don’t we clean up this mess together?”

Even though it was considerable work (I had done a magnificent job of sticking and stuffing!), I didn’t mind. My relationship with my father was right again, and that’s what mattered most to me.

That day I learned that there is only one solution for fun gone bad—for life gone bad—and that is forgiveness. And I’ve always been grateful for the simple act of grace Daddy gave me, because even all these years later, I replay that day in my heart, and it still reminds me of God’s promise and John’s declaration: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

I love thinking that God, too, invites us—whether we’ve messed up at six or sixteen or sixty—to come to Him, and even sit in His lap, as He whispers in our ear, “Why don’t you just own up to that colossal misjudgment you made? You’ll have to clean up the mess, but I’m here with you. I forgive you.”

And with that forgiveness comes freedom—freedom to forgive yourself, to move on, to know real joy, and to make sure there’s plenty of quality playtime—for the little goof-off who may live inside you too.

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Excerpted from Born to Be Wild: Rediscover the Freedom of Fun by Jill Baughan, copyright © 2006. Published by New Hope Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

This book is available in bookstores everywhere or by calling customer service at 800.968.7301.


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