Maybe you have done none of these things but it is a rare person who hasn’t stolen something from somebody. Think about it for a while I’m sure you’ll come up with something. But let me focus on my little corner of the world.
When I was a young woman I remember my father telling me about the candy bar he had taken from the country store at the end of his road. He had had money, just not enough, and he really wanted that candy bar. So he took it. He enjoyed his loot and didn’t give it a second thought. He knew it was wrong, and guilt plagued him a little. But as the years rolled by he never thought about that day. That is until he was born again. It took a while but that youthful misdeed came back to haunt him. One day he went back to that little country store and confessed his sin and tried to make restitution. You see the store owner was shocked, not that he had stolen something so many decades ago, but that he was confessing it now and seeking to make it right. The store owner all but refused to take the money my father was offering.
Fast forward several more decades to when my eldest son was five. My mother and I were at Wal-Mart shopping with my son. Everything went beautifully. Despite the late hour my son was very well behaved; we found what we needed and went home. Only after taking off our coats and unpacking the bags did I notice my son was chewing gum. When I asked him where he got the gum he told me it was laying on a shelf at the store so he picked it up. Shock and horror!! I had a thief on my hands. I explained to him that what he had done was considered stealing since he did not pay for it. I also told him he would have to go back to the store, confess his sin and pay for his booty. While my Mom got him ready to go back to the store, I called the manager, explained what had happened, told her we were coming back in, and asked her to read him the riot act. Half an hour later my son was standing at one of the checkout registers confessing his misdeed while hiding behind my proverbial skirt. The manager dutifully scolded my son and explained that she could have him arrested and thrown in jail. At this point my son grabbed my leg even tighter and began to cry. I wanted to end the whole show right then and there. My heart broke from his suffering. But I knew that if I rescued him the teaching moment would be lost for all time, so I let her continue. After explaining to him what stealing costs a company she made him promise to never steal another thing again. He promised, we paid and then went home. My son is 21 years old now and still remembers that night. And to the best of my knowledge has never stolen anything again.
Fast forward another decade and a half and my second son is four. My Mom and I are shopping for children’s clothes at the local outlets. Another successful shopping trip with children in tow. We settle in to have lunch at the Food Court. I reach into the diaper bag to get my daughter’s jarred lunch and discover a pair of purple sandals with flowers on the toe strap. I pull them out and ask my Mom where they came from. She of course did not know. My son did though! He saw them and wanted to get them for his cousin (the much beloved one). Here we go again. Another talk about stealing. Another trip back to the store. Another confession to the manager. Another lecture and more money out of my pocket. There were no tears this time but there was palpable fear. This time I was a little more callused. I felt bad for him but I knew the lesson which had to be learned. And I had already lived through it once; I knew he would remember this moment.
Which brings us to this Fall. We were visiting friends and having a lovely time. My three children played relatively peacefully with their six children all night. When it was time to go we made the clean-up announcement and proceeded to say our good-byes. We made sure we had what we came with and nothing else. At least we thought so. Unbeknownst to us my daughter slipped a Trio doll into her pocket and was taking it home to play with. We didn’t get out of the driveway before her brother ratted her out. Here we go again! We repeated the lecture, the return, and the confession. There was hiding behind Mommy, crying and much fear. But I stood my ground.
Some lessons I learned along the way?
Children want what they want. We are all creatures of the flesh, especially our children. Without the regeneration of the Holy Spirit we are selfish, greedy, sinful beings. And without Mom and Dad to discipline and disciple our children will fall deeper and deeper into the Adversary’s trap.
It is not easy being a parent. And sometimes it is down-right painful watching our children suffering the consequences of their sin. Even more so when you know you are the vehicle by which that suffering is delivered.
Some sins are generational.
As I look back on these events, the Mommy in me thinks that perhaps I might have been too harsh. Surely there was a less drastic way to teach this lesson without bringing my children to tears.
The callused, judgmental side of me thinks I wasn’t harsh enough.
But the parent in me says that if I want to save my children from the snares of Satan then I need to do whatever it takes.
“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41