It was wrong, and I knew it, but I couldn’t resist…and that’s the cold hard truth.
With a small spoon in the front pocket of my Jordache jeans and the crazed determination of a chocolate addict, I made my way around the large kitchen table into the claustrophobic laundry room to my destination—the freezer.
Inside the freezer, carefully hidden behind pounds of frozen hamburger and a family-sized bag of peas, was my favorite ice cream—Tin Roof Sundae.
Climbing carefully onto the laundry folding counter, I opened the freezer door, retrieved the spoon from my jeans pocket, and reached for the tub of ice cream.
Removing the lid, I saw immediately what I was after—chocolate-covered peanuts.
“I’ll only take a few,” I told myself, digging my spoon into the creamy vanilla concoction in an effort to release the first delectable nut.
Thirty-five nuts later, I felt like I was just getting started.
The ice cream, however, was beginning to look like scrambled eggs from all the stirring around I had done to collect more nuts, so I thought it might be best to stop.
Smoothing the ice cream over the best I could, and replacing the lid on the container, I listened for any sign that I might be discovered by one of my siblings.
As far as I could tell, all was clear.
“Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 23:24
“Maybe no one will notice the nuts are missing,” I thought, feeling hopeful, as I returned the tub of now “nut-free” ice cream to the freezer—taking great care to position it behind the pounds of frozen hamburger and the family-sized bag of frozen peas.
After sliding off the laundry table, I made my escape.
Quietly setting the cold and well-licked spoon into the kitchen sink, I returned to my bedroom to read my current library book—likely, an innocent teeny-bopper romance tale.
Two days later, as I was reading yet another innocent teeny-bopper romance book—while laying on my bed, of course, on my back with my legs elevated high above me on the wall (because that is the absolute BEST way to read a book!)—I heard my mom call my name from the vicinity of the—ahem!—laundry room.
She called out my first name,
then my middle name,
in a loud and…shall we say...unpleasant voice.
“Carri Annnn….” she nearly shrieked, in the same frustrated manner I imagine EVERY mother must do when they realize that their carefully-hidden stash of goodies has been discovered, demolished, and devoured.
In that hair-raising moment, I knew the cold hard truth.
I knew that she knew about the missing nuts.
And I began to wonder if the chocolate-covered peanuts were worth the coming consequence.
My mother calling me out on the stolen peanuts was only the beginning of people calling me out on things.
I grew up sleeping in a double bed with my younger sister. Every night we would have elbow fights with each other.
Surely, every child in the world has had an elbow fight before, but in the rare case that you don’t know what an elbow fight is, here’s a quick description:
Lying side-by-side, face-up, on our bed, my sister and I would each bend an arm and position it over our faces. Then, at the count of three, she would ram her left elbow in the direction of my right elbow as fast as she could, and I would ram my right elbow in the direction of her left elbow.
If we aimed just right, our elbows would smack together with an incredibly painful whack!
And we were pretty good at hitting our target.
Upon impact, we would immediately grab our wounded elbows with our free hands, while giving a tremendous yelp, which may or may not have been heard by our nearest neighbors. Then we would giggle uproariously for the next two minutes before doing it all over again.
My dad, relaxing in his easy chair in the family room in front of the television, after a long day of work, did not see the humor in our little nightly activity.
He wanted us to go to sleep so that he could relax.
Night after night, after hearing us yelping and giggling until way past our bedtime, he would call out, in a deep booming voice,
“What?” we would answer, feigning innocence.
“You know what!” he would say, without fail.
And we DID know.
But, oh!–sometimes it was so hard to be obedient!
And that’s the cold hard truth.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” Ephesians 6:1
Years later, when I spent more time with my friends than with my family, my friends would sometimes call me out on some-thing-or-another.
Today, my friends still do.
And I am grateful.
“I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.” Plutarch
I am grateful to my mom for calling attention to my dishonest actions.
I am grateful to my dad for encouraging me to obey and honor my parents.
And I am grateful to my friends, for bringing to my attention certain actions or choices that are destructive in nature to the person I desire to become.
Getting “caught”, and having one’s shortcomings pointed out in a direct way can be extremely difficult—even painful.
But I’m learning that there is much truth in what Jordan Peterson teaches in his book, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos,
“If you surround yourself with people who support your upward aim, they will not tolerate your…destructiveness. They will instead encourage you when you do good for yourself and others and punish you carefully when you do not. This will help bolster your resolve to do what you should do, in the most appropriate and careful manner. It requires strength and daring to stand up near such a person. Have some humility. Have some courage. Use your judgment, and protect yourself from too-uncritical compassion and pity. [Surround yourself] with people who want the best for you.”
“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” Hebrews 12:7
Life is better when we surround ourselves “with people who want the best for us” (Source: Jordan Peterson).
And “life is better when we surround ourselves with a lot of ice cream.” (Source: Unknown)
(Don’t worry! I’m no longer in the habit of stealing the peanuts. Thanks, Mom!)
How have the people in your life blessed you with “appropriate and careful” chastening and the cold hard truth?
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