Home > Blogging, Christianity, Church, Faith > Permanent Records, Eating A Napkin, And Moving Letters

Permanent Records, Eating A Napkin, And Moving Letters

I have to admit something.  I wonder sometimes if it still exists.  Where would it be?  What would be on it?  Why didn’t it follow me all the way through life like some teachers threatened it would?  What in the world am I talking about?

My permanent record.

This document, which I’m not sure ever truly existed, was a weapon used against me and my school chums to keep us quiet and well-behaved.  After all, one slip and we were done for.  Our permanent records would haunt us throughout life, lurking just beyond our reach, ready to pounce on us when the time was right.

Was it something that would eventually send me to reform school, the fate I felt would befall me if I made one misstep in life, whether at home or at school?

Our teachers, those in authority, dangled the existence of this permanent record over us.

Left to my own imagination, anything could happen.


In second grade, I had a friend, maybe a best friend, named Jeffery.  Jeffery Johnson.  I haven’t seen him now for at least thirty-five years, if not more.

We sat there in the cafeteria one day eating lunch.  For some reason that I don’t remember, I put a piece of my paper napkin inside a biscuit and ate it.  Perhaps I was dared by some of the guys.  I don’t remember.  I do remember what happened next, though.  It haunted me for several years.

Jeffery told me that I would die by the time I was eighteen.  His mom was a nurse, so he knew that the napkin would slowly move toward my heart for the next eleven to twelve years or so.

I lived in fear for a few years until I learned how the human body actually worked.  I didn’t tell anyone, least of all my parents.  I just waited to die and planned my final few years.  All in all, I was a depressed kid for a while.

A nurse, albeit through her son, had delivered a death sentence to me and told me this.

I was sort of left to my own imagination as to what would befall me.


I never really had to worry or think about this much until I got married.  I still didn’t figure it out for a while afterwards.

I moved to another town, another church and it was time to move my letter.

I had heard about this mysterious process throughout my life.  People had joined our church while I was growing up by promise of a letter.

Was this something we gained when we were saved and baptized?  Did we suddenly have a letter stored somewhere in the church office that would be sent to another church if we joined?  Why couldn’t we get one to put on a jacket so that would proudly display the church we belonged to?

Was it a letter with some sort of super-secret code, like some sort of message Ian Fleming would have dreamed up for James Bond that needed to be destroyed upon reading?

Eventually I learned that it was simply a typed letter stating that the person joining the church was simply a member of the church and was good to go.

Left to my own imagination, I came up with my own explanation.


How many times have I felt this way about my faith?

How many times have a I felt that there was a permanent record out there, where all of my good and bad things were kept track of in need to be balanced out?

How many times have I thought an unrealistic death sentence was dealt to me leaving me thinking I had no hope?

How many have I thought that I needed to crack the code to be part of the club?

What kind of things have you imagined up in life that turned out to be ridiculous?

  1. February 19, 2014 at 1:47 am

    I had forgotten all about the dreaded permanent record- boy did that work on us as kids! My children would have no idea or care about such a record. Funny how times change!

  2. February 19, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I honestly believe my mother when she said she had eyes in the back of her head and all over town.

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