Have you ever gotten in trouble for something you didn't do? I'm not talking about a photo radar ticket that someone else earned while driving your car. I'm talking about really, truly getting in deep water for actions you were accused of doing but weren't the guilty party?
When I was in first grade at Blessed Sacrament School I was the victim of such a horrific offense. It all started when I asked to go to the bathroom the same time my friend Bridget went. Looking back, it wasn't the smartest idea I'd ever had but what is one to do with you have to go potty? And like a typical 7 year old, I waited until the last minute. Well, about an hour later Sr. Mary Ann came marching into our classroom and dragged me out by my earlobe. As we were standing in the hall she asked me if I was the one who had wrote the nasty writing on the bathroom wall—one word of which was the 'f'-bomb. I'm not even sure I knew what that word was at my age. I kept telling her I didn't do it through my sobs. As a last resort she picked me up by my neck and held me against that cold brick wall. I didn't like what she was doing to me but I was so stubborn that I wasn't going to admit to doing something I hadn't done.
Well, Sr. Mary Ann was convinced I'd done the writing on the wall even though I'd clearly explained Bridget had been in that newly built bathroom with all the brand new stalls the same time I was. She wouldn't hear any of it and called my mom. I can still remember laying down in the back seat of my mom's green Buick Electra 225 attempting to eat my bologna sandwich with mustard on white bread between sobs while my mom finished up duty as a crossing guard. I was mortified. The whole school had seen and heard what had happened. Little Sam was a bad girl.
I think I still played with Bridget even after she threw me under the bus. (thump, thump) I was an awkward child and didn't have a lot of friends to begin with. After my premiere event in the hallway with our principle, I was pretty sure no one else would want to be my friend now anyway. Perhaps this is where my hardened criminal life began? If everyone thought I was a bad girl then I might as well prove them right and be one, right? If I was going to get the blame for doing what I had not done, maybe I should just do bad things so I'd at least get punished justly.
But life isn't fair. Things don't always turn out the way you want, plan or even deserve. If everyone who was unjustly blamed for doing something wrong decided to make a hay day of it and do wrong in spite of it all, what would our world look like? Life isn't fair, for sure. But, the great news is, you can be.