Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lessons in Honesty and Integrity

I consider myself to be a fairly honest person. I'm a firm believer in practicing what I preach, and in doing right by those around me. So when I tell you I stole from Walmart this last week I hope you'll give me a chance to thoroughly explain before calling the cops on me.

We celebrate several birthdays during the month of December, one of which happens to be my oldest, Miss M. The night before I went grocery shopping she was telling me how she couldn't find any of her earrings, that she'd lost them all. Grrr. However, it was nearing birthday time so I played nice and thought immediately of a display of jewelry cases set out at the front of the store.

Sure enough, I found exactly the one I was thinking of, then decided to go a step further and get her a few pair of new earrings. I found some spectacular looking ones, but as I went to put them in the cart a dilemma appeared. If I put the earrings at the top of the cart my youngest could get at them. If I put them in the big part of the cart there was a danger of the earrings becoming smashed or lost. I also worried about putting them inside the box; if I did so, would I remember them once I got to the cashier line?

Seeing as how I was so concerned, I came to the conclusion I wouldn't forget and tucked the earrings inside the jewelry box. Can you see where I'm going here? I got the groceries home, took one look at the jewelry box, and gasped. I'd stolen both pair!

I was horrified. Beyond horrified. I felt sick from head to toe thinking I'd just done something that is not just wrong, but a commandment of God. Thou shalt not steal. Not even accidentally. It's just a no-no.

Back to Walmart I went. The cute greeters at the entrance know my face, and one particular man always tells me to stay out of trouble. When I approached him I said, "You know how you're always telling me to stay out of trouble? Well, I'm in trouble." I told him everything, even how dumb I was in my thinking. The darling man was torn between laughter and trying to look serious. Of course I still wanted to buy the earrings and made sure he watched while I stood in line (my line of shame!) and paid for them. As I walked out of the store a giant burden was left behind.

A few days before this exciting event the young women (girls 12-18) of our church had put together a program about their Personal Progress values. Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue. I thought about how the young women who'd spoken on these topics had described how their lives had changed by following them. I thought about all the years I had spent as a youth doing my own challenges and projects involved with each value.

This awkward and uncomfortable experience and my decision on how to handle it involved many of the values the young women of our church are taught. Divine Nature: knowing I am a daughter of God, and have a responsibility to represent Him here on earth. Individual Worth: based on my decision, how would I value myself if I'd made a wrong choice? Choice and Accountability: I'm always telling people we always have a choice in each circumstance that comes before us. Even if it's just in our attitude, there's always a choice. And whatever choice we make, we'd better be certain the consequences will be something we can live with. Because we WILL have to live with it. Integrity: practicing what we preach. Being honest and trustworthy. Virtue: one wrong choice can mar even the most beautiful of souls.

I told my daughter about what had happened, not holding back. It was important to me for her to see Mom's not perfect, she makes mistakes, but she also does her best to right the wrongs she may commit. For topmost in my mind through all of this was the example I was setting for my children and for the girls I teach. If they can't trust that those who teach them these values abide by those teachings, they will not follow. And if there's anything I want to see for these younger generations, it's the ability to make good choices, to repent when they've done something wrong, and to live with as little guilt and burdens as possible.


Debbie said...

One time I walked out of the store without paying for something (it got plopped down on the bottom rack)....I just happened to see the bishops wife shopping there too and went and said hello. So, of course when I found my pilfered item I promptly returned and paid for it. God knows our hearts, and he provides a way for us to show our integrity.

Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

LaurieW said...

SO happy to know I'm not alone, lol.

Josie and Wayne said...

We accidentaly drove off with our food from a fast food place without paying. They hadn't even asked for our money and we just left. We had gone a good 10 minutes before realizing what we had done and had to turn back and go in to pay them. They looked at me funny when I told them why I was back. Darn those consciences!