Man shall not live by bread alone

1 Timothy 2:9, New American Standard Bible

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,

You were six years old and playing outside, tracing roadways in the dirt for invisible traffic. The lawn mower ran out of gas, and your sisters headed into town to get more. You jumped at the chance to go with them. Chances for candy were high on such trips. On the way home, you cradled a bag of gummy worms, savoring every sweet bite.

Your mother greeted you in the driveway, arms crossed and lips set. The bag of gummy worms flew out of your hand. Sugar was a sin, but that’s not the one she noticed. Her eyes were on your shorts, a pair of saggy pink hand-me-downs that you were allowed to wear during the day when the boys weren’t home.

“How could you wear those to the store?”

Your exposed legs followed her inside the house to be spanked.

Proverbs 14:30, English Standard Version

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

You had a massive crush on arguably the best-looking boy in church. Your dowdy dresses and greasy hair and mortifying parents nullified any chance you might have had for reciprocation on his part, but that didn’t matter.

One Sunday after church, you spied him in the lobby. He was talking with a group of other tweens. You approached cautiously, heart beating out of your chest. He smiled at you. “What, I don’t get a handshake?” he teased. Something filled your throat and you couldn’t respond. Behind you, a laugh. A beautiful girl with surfer-blond hair and a sleeveless dress extended her arm past you. “Of course you do,” she said, reaching for what should have been yours. Your eyes burned a hole in her back.

Hebrews 4:12, King James Version

For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Your Mom’s friend was a cheerful woman. So, so cheerful. “Did you know the Bible is the only book in the world that has no contradictions in it?” she asked you. “Atheists have been searching for them for years, but they’ve never found a single one.”

Proverbs 12:22, New International Version

The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

Most nights, your family would have Bible time, all your siblings sprawled around the living room, solemn and attentive. One night, the topic is truthfulness. You are all encouraged to confess any lies you may have told. One by one, your brothers and sisters unburden their souls. You scramble to concoct a story that will sound acceptably bad without landing you in more trouble. You draw a blank.

Bible time ends before your turn comes around. You offer up a quick prayer of thanks.

Hebrews 13:17, King James Version

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

You are surrounded by a sense of dread. You breathe it in the morning when you wake up, when you pour apple juice over your farina, when you do your chores before settling down to finish homework. It is written on the faces around you; your lives are a balancing act and everyone is terrified of falling.

One rare night, it is just you and your parents who attend evening church. There is a potluck dinner afterward and instead of joining your parents at their table, you sit with some other girls while you poke at your Jell-O salad. Since it is such a special occasion, your parents stop for ice cream on the way home. You shuffle into the ice cream shop behind them, acutely aware of your long denim skirt. You get a waffle cone and do not have to share it with anyone.

When you get home, you are called into your parent’s bedroom. They wanted you to sit with them at dinner, see. But you chose to join your friends instead. After your spanking, you go to bed. You don’t care much for ice cream after that. If you could taste betrayal, it would be sweet and cold and creamy.

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