by Marie Williams
School days, school days, good old golden rule days. I remember my school days. They were days of lessons both in schoolwork, and some important lessons in life.
The elementary school I attended was a short, half block from my uncle’s grocery store, and another half block to my piano instructor’s home. Both were two of my favorite people.
This particular day, I had a piano lesson on my lunch hour, so I decided to stop and say a quick hello to my uncle. He was busy waiting on a customer, so I looked through some coloring books while I waited.
Shifting from one foot to the other, my eyes were drawn to a particular book. It was one of my favorites, Disney characters. I picked it up flipping through the pages. Time slipping away from me, I glanced quickly towards my uncle. He was still in deep conversation.
” I’d better get to my music lessons, or I’m going to be late, I thought.” The problem was, I wanted the coloring book. What was I to do? My heart told me what to do, but the thoughts of leaving the book….well, after all, if I had to come back later, it might be gone! Nervously, I bent down and picked up the duffel bag I had dropped on the floor while browsing. With fumbling hands, I opened the bag and slipped the coloring book into the bag.
Racing past my uncle, I said a quick, “See you later, gotta go!” Out the door I flew. As the door shut, I heard my uncle’s reply, “Love you, Sissy.” (A nickname the family attached to me.)
My legs weren’t the only thing racing. My heart was doing a double beat per second. The music lesson was a disaster, and I felt as if my instructor was looking deeply in to my heart. She never said a word, but I sensed that she may know what was bothering me.
Afternoon led to evening. My appetite diminished. “Marie, do you feel ok?” My mother asked. “It’s not like you not to eat. Are you running a fever?” I felt ill all right, but it wasn’t from a sick body, it was a sick heart. I avoided her gaze and excused myself to do homework.
Tears filled my eyes and threatened to spill, as the realization of what I had done became more than I could bear. I knew I had done wrong, and not only that, I had tried to conceal my wrong. I placed my hand on the doorknob to confess my actions, when I heard a gentle knock from the other side. “Come in,” I called out with a quivering voice.
“We need to talk,” my mother started….”I know, Mom, I’m so sorry.” Weeping, I fell in her arms. “You know you will have to take it back and confess that you took it: And, I want you to apologize and pay for the book. It will come out of your allowance.” “Yes ma’am,” I replied. “I’ll never do it again.”
Relief washed over me like a gentle washing.... to be free from the horrible secret, was such a relief. Even though I dreaded facing my uncle, it was a relief to know the truth was out. My mother and I went together to face my uncle. Looking him in the eyes and admitting my guilt was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn, but it stayed with me for the rest of my life.
But this is not the end of the story. I had another lesson to learn...one of forgiveness. Not once did I hear accusations, or condemnation. Big, burly arms encircled me, as I stood before my uncle in all my guilt. I was swallowed up in love and forgiveness. The only words I heard were, “I forgive you Sissy.” Handing him the money from my allowance, I held the book out to him. “Keep the book,” he said. “You have more than paid for it.”
I don’t believe I ever colored in the book. It was a reminder each time I saw it of a lesson that would follow me for the rest of my life. Even at the tender age of seven, I believe God was dealing and preparing my heart to receive His gift of love and forgiveness. It was, and still is, a wonderful gift of Grace and Salvation.
To this day, I'm not certain who told my mother about the book, but I'm thankful they did.
© 2004 Marie Williams
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