My church serves doughnuts. No surprise. As a pastor’s daughter and veteran of hundreds of ecclesiastical gatherings, I know “fellowship” is synonymous with “doughnuts.”
Some insist the tradition began when Jesus and his disciples made regular stops at an ancient Krispy Kreme. Despite intense efforts, I haven’t yet found that in the Bible.
Still, my childhood church’s divine doughnut ritual made a powerful impact. What kid does not feel her spirituality increase a hundredfold with a table-level view of big white boxes of fresh doughnuts?
The memory lingers: my favorite chocolate-frosted, Boston cream-filled confections; sprinkles, glazes and powdery sugar like sweet fairy dust. Even jelly doughnuts, my last choice, looked as heavenly as the fellowship they represented.
Today, doughnuts no longer symbolize fellowship to me. Alas, they remind me of a major miscue.
As a young mother, I started a kids’ Bible club in my neighborhood, often serving doughnuts.
One swaggering 10-year-old declared himself the world doughnut-eating champion.
I couldn’t let this untruthful claim go unchallenged.
He sneered, but shook it.
The following week, my excited Bible club assembled. Robby and I stared each other down as a fifth-grader ran the stop watch.
“Ready. Set. Go!”
We stuffed doughnuts with the ease of marathoners running the first mile. But my long-time conditioning began to win out. Robby slowed as I snarfed doughnut after doughnut. (How many? I’m not telling.)
“Ten! Nine! Eight! …” The kids counted down the last seconds.
I felt the rosy flush of victory.
Robby’s face, however, turned green.
“I don’t feel so good.” He went home.
Suddenly, I found my win hard to swallow — especially with a stomachful of doughnuts. What kind of role model made a kid sick? What would his parents think of my Bible program?
After repenting and praying for Robby — and my stomach — I mustered the courage to call his mother. “I’m so, so sorry.”
She’ll sue me.
Or have me arrested.
A howl of laughter erupted from the phone. Finally, still chuckling, she said, “He needs to be taken down a peg or two. Thanks!”
Robby showed up the next week. And the next. Apparently, I had earned his respect.
Although that scenario occurred 25 years ago, it replays every time I see doughnuts.
Writing about it now, however, my spiritual vision clears. Doughnuts do not have to symbolize my downfall. Instead, they recall God’s kindness in fixing even my dumbest mistakes.
What’s your favorite kind of doughnut? Have they taught you a spiritual lesson, too?