Is there any better place for a 10 year old than a convenience store full of sweet treats - Fun Dip, Sweet Tarts, Bubbalicious, candy cigarettes, Jolly Rancher sticks and the list goes on and on. But what if that 10 year old has no money? Zilch, none, nada. Does that place become a hell on earth?
I can't answer that question with absolute certainty, but I can answer based on anecdotal evidence. I know for this ten year old, convenience stores and their out of reach treasures were terrible places. That was, until one day when my best friend and I ventured into our neighborhood 7-11. We decided to fill up our baby doll diaper bags with whatever we could nonchalantly slip into them unnoticed and remedy the no money problem. The clerk wasn't looking. We were sure of it. One of us stood watching while the other filled her bag. Then, being friends, we reversed roles, sharing responsibilities.
The thought of a second employee never crossed our minds. Who would have thought he would be hiding in the cooler restocking beverages? We sure didn't. But his position gave him a perfect view of what we thought was a perfect plan. I guess big brother was watching even before surveillance cameras were common. A huge tragedy in two small lives. We were busted.
I can't remember whose mom was called first, but they both were notified. I do however remember the discipline tool of choice my mother used to punish me - my fathers wooden handle BBQ brush. It stung like mad and left a welt on my butt. I was a skinny little thing, so there wasn't much meat on my flanks to absorb the swats - pun intended, have to live with it when using a BBQ brushes for discipline.
You must be wondering by now when I would get a clue about life. Stealing is wrong. Stealing equals bad consequences. Shouting at me as you read this excerpt, stealing is, if nothing else, something you personally are not very good at.
It wasn't that I wasn't a bright child. It was more that my desire to have what was not mine was stronger than my ability to think through the consequences. I wish I could say that today I don't struggle with wanting what is not mine, but I still do. Once my spending money is gone for the month I know I need to avoid certain stores. They cause me to stumble every time. Well, I don't steal things anymore but I tend to buy them even when I have exhausted my spending funds, and even though I know I shouldn't. Even though I know it will perturb my husband. Even though I know that eventually the stuff will sit in my closet collecting dust until I ultimately send it off to the thrift store with the other items I've grown tired of because something new and exciting....for now...has replaced it.
So, how do I remedy this problem? I need to remember that ultimately, the only thing that will fill that hole in my life is God. Not the good gifts He gives us...which can bring us pleasure, but only He himself can fill the void. Now, to remember that the next time I'm at REI would really make my life easier.