Friday, August 30, 2013

I was a dime-store thief

“Just put them under your shirt and tuck your shirt into your shorts. I do it all the time, no one will ever notice. Then meet me back at our bikes.” Words of “wisdom” rolled off the tough of the 9 year-old boy who lived down the street.

“I – I – I don’t know Billy. Someone will see us and we will get into trouble.” My seven year old self tried to reason with the “big” kid.

“Trust me. We will be listening to these on my new record player when we get back to the house.” He fanned out the 7” single records in his hand. In 1973, 45 rpm records were fairly inexpensive but to a 7 and 9 year old they may as well have been $100.

Listening to Billy’s voice and not the voice in my head telling me “don’t do it…you’re gonna get caught and then your Dad will find out…” I shoved the records under my shirt, crossed my arms and headed for the front of the store. I don’t even remember the number of records nor the songs I “took” that day.

I saw the front doors of the store in front of me. “Could it be this easy? Billy was right? No one would ever know I took these records without paying for them.” About 5 steps away from the front door, I felt a hand squeeze my shoulder.

“What do you have under your shirt young lady?” As I turned to see where the gruff voice was coming from tears began to stream from my face. I was busted…and I knew it. But it wasn’t my fault…Billy had talked me into the whole thing.

“Um… nothing?” Not only had I stolen the records, I had just lied to an adult. Did I really think this man was going to believe that?

“I can tell you are hiding something under your shirt. Let’s go to my office and call your parents.” The man’s hand still on my shoulder, he guided me towards an open door. Once inside he asked me to have a seat in the chair in front of his desk. “Look, you can tell me what you have under your shirt or I can call your parents and you can talk to them. The choice is yours.”

Again, tears began to uncontrollably fall from my eyes. I had taken the records and I knew I was wrong and I lied to cover it up.

About an hour later my Dad walked through the door of that little office. He didn’t yell at me or point an accusing finger. He simply sat down beside me and expressed his disappointment. “Stealing records babe? You know better than that.”

He was right…I did know better. My Dad and the store manager walked outside the office to discuss the situation. I have no idea what was said between them. The manager could have called the Police and turned me in for stealing…but he didn’t. He knelt down in front of me and said “I have talked to your Father and I have decided not to report this to the Police. You are welcome back in this store anytime as long as you are with an adult. If I see you in this store with another kid, I am going to have to call the Police…do you understand?”

I had been looking down at my feet the entire time the manager was talking. I raised my head and looked him in the eye. Through my tear filled eyes I promised not to steal anything from his store and I assured him I wouldn’t step foot in the store without my Mom or Dad. My Dad shook the man’s hand and we were gone.

Can you just imagine the car ride home? It wasn't as bad as I originally thought. My Dad was disappointed that I had chosen poorly, but he knew I'd learn a BIG lesson out of the experience. Today, I think about that and it reminds me of how my Heaven Father disciplines me.

The Bible is clear in Hebrews 12:8 – 11 (NCV)
"If you are never disciplined (and every child must be disciplined), you are not true children. We have all had fathers here on earth who disciplined us, and we respected them. So it is even more important that we accept discipline from the Father of our spirits so we will have life. Our fathers on earth disciplined us for a short time in the way they thought was best. But God disciplines us to help us, so we can become holy as he is. We do not enjoy being disciplined. It is painful at the time, but later, after we have learned from it, we have peace, because we start living in the right way."

As children and as a child of God, we are disciplined because we are loved. Sometimes it just isn’t fun to be disciplined…but we can know that when God corrects us, we can see it as proof of his love. 

Instead of asking “Why?” ask “What are you trying to teach me?”

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