After I read the book to my grandsons, I took it and looked on every page, up and down, backwards and forwards and could not find her. I knew He-Did-It Harriet was in there somewhere. Then I began looking for torn out pages. Nope. The book was intact. Finally, I remembered where she was—in my class's imagination. They told me the book was incomplete, that several people were missing. So I told them to come up with the missing children themselves, and they did. After all these years, Harriet is the only one I remember.
He-Did-It-Harriet has several problems. First, she's the tattletale. It isn't that she cares about people and whether they might get hurt—she wants them to get in trouble. Do you think adults don't think the same way sometimes? Usually after you point out a problem they have. "Maybe what I did was wrong, but you…" Or "brother so and so," Or "sister whatsis." Tattling on anyone to divert the attention of the elders, the preacher, or any other kind soul who is simply trying to help. Harriet needs to be told in no uncertain terms that what anyone else did does not make her sins okay.
Harriet's other problem, especially as an adult, is to blame everyone else for her sin. "But I'm a victim," she says of poor parenting, of a violent culture, or abuse of one sort or another. And especially, "He was mean to me. That's why I quit going to church." You mean, you allowed someone else to cause you to abandon the Lord who gave his life for you? That same Lord said, "If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." He said through his prophet Ezekiel, "The soul that sins, he shall die." My sin is my fault because I let it happen, not because of anything anyone else did. Never in the Bible will you find a place where someone else's failings actually excused the sin of another.
And Harriet will never see her own failures. I have lived long enough to know that practically every problem between two people has two sides. Harriet, though, sees only her side. She will judge the motives of others and criticize their actions and words, demanding an apology. When the other side does this too, things will never be straightened out. But what often happens is the other side will read in their Bible, "Love covers a multitude of sins," and though they, too, were hurt, they will be the first to proffer the demanded apology, hoping for one in return, and when they don’t get it from the self-absorbed Harriet, just go along for the sake of unity and peace in the family or the church rather than make their own demands. Harriet is so wrapped up in herself that she will never recognize this fact: one apology almost always demands one in return because no one is perfect.
Our entire culture is full of He-Did-It Harriets, people who refuse to take accountability for their actions and blame everything and everyone they can for their failings. When we let that invade the church, even taking up for the Harriets out there who try to blame it on the preachers, teachers, elders, and caring brothers and sisters who dared to tell her she was wrong, we give the Devil a victory. He has won Harriet, but he has also won anyone else who sees her get away with sin and still be accepted as a part of what should be a holy brotherhood. Now they know exactly how they can get away with it, too.
The children did not know when they made up Harriet that this one might be the most important one of all. Or maybe they did. Maybe they have seen it too long among their playmates and while they cannot see from experience the evil that is wrought by them, something in them saw a problem.
If you should use this book with your children or your Bible classes, try this simple exercise. Have them come up with characters they do not like to be around and do not want to grow up to be like. Children are far wiser than we sometimes think.
He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen 3:11-13).
And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” (Exod 32:21-24).
And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.” (1Sam 15:20-23).