No, the title was not a misspelling, I did not intend to say my grandfather's mantle. I said what I meant, today I will write about my grandfather's belt. I remember the belt well. When I had an intimate encounter with said belt it was already worn, the black leather not quite so shiny anymore due to the passage of time, and although he could have bought a new one, my grandfather continued to wear that old belt because it had sentimental value. It had been given to him many years ago by his brother Cornel who was a tailor, and it was the only belt he owned for the rest of his life.
I was eight years old, a big boy now, already in the second grade, when I had my one and only encounter with my grandfather's belt. After much begging and pleading my parents finally gave in to the idea of me walking to and from school by myself, only if I promised to come home right after school, every single day. It had gotten embarrassing, being the only child whose mother walked him up the hill to the school house, holding his had every morning, and then waiting for him in front of the building every afternoon when school let out.
The first few months went off without a hitch, I enjoyed my new found independence of walking to school by myself carrying my bag of books and notebooks, and as I'd promised coming home right after, without so much as a detour through the park.
That all changed on the day that my cousin Benny, who was about my age told me his dad had just gotten a television, and if I would come by right after school both Tom and Jerry, and Charlie Chaplin would be on. In order to understand what that meant to an eight year old in an eastern block country, I need to explain some things.
First, we did not have a television in our home. My uncle Cornel got saved only after we were deported from Romania, so he was a bit more liberal in what he allowed his children to do. Second, there weren't five hundred channels of streaming foolishness on television back then, there was one channel, and eighteen hours out of a twenty four hour day they aired speeches given by Ceausescu, the communist dictator, and his most trusted advisers, praising the virtues of communism. So Tom and Jerry cartoons, and Charlie Chaplin back to back was a big deal.
To say the least, in my young adolescent mind, I was conflicted. I knew the promise I had made to my parents, but then again, they were my parents, they wouldn't do anything if I got home a couple hours late.
I finally gave in to the temptation, and went to my uncle's house, sat through thirty minutes of a cartoon cat trying to catch a cartoon mouse, then thirty more minutes of a man tripping over himself, walking into doors, yet never getting hurt.
My aunt gave us cookies, and mineral water with honey, and as I walked out into the mid afternoon sun, I felt an odd mixture of guilt and glee. Yes, I'd broken my promise, I thought to myself, but my parents will understand.
As I turned the corner and headed down the hill that would take me home, I saw my grandfather pedaling his bicycle up the hill. He looked worried and concerned. If anyone had to come looking for me, I would have preferred my grandfather. He had never disciplined me, unlike my mother or grandmother, and I knew he loved me, so it was okay.
As he saw me coming down the hill, he stopped his bicycle and got off, then waited for me to reach him. He then leaned his bicycle against a tree, took off his belt and said, 'turn around.'
I was stunned. I would have expected something like this from my mother, or my grandmother, but not him. He was grandpa, he took me fishing, he let me ride his bicycle around the yard, he'd never discipline me!
But discipline me he did. It was the first and only time my grandfather spanked me, and it was not because my mother was worried as to where I was, since we lived in a village where everyone knew everyone else, but because I had broken my promise, because I had not kept my word.
Some people go about life believing that God is too good, too loving, to discipline or chasten His children. They go back on the promises they made to keep themselves pure from the world, to strive for righteousness, thinking that there are no consequences to their actions.
For some, the first time God chastens them is so shocking, surreal, and revealing, that one chastening is all it takes for the rest of their lives. They learn that even though God loves them, He will not spare them chastening when it is deserved. In fact it is because God loves them that He chooses to discipline, rather than allow them to pursue the desires of their hearts.
To this day I remember my grandfather's belt, not because he used it every other day, but because he used it once, and it was contradictory to his nature. God finds no pleasure in chastening us, but as a good Father, from time to time He must, that we remain on the narrow path of faith.
1 Corinthians 12:7-8, "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? Bu if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons."
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.