Friday, February 18, 2011

Soul for Sale: $2.59

While eating at Rubio's today, we accidentally got an extra taco. Well, first we thought we didn't get the taco we wanted. So, my husband went and told them that there had been an error. The manager quickly fixed the problem. A minute later, we figured out that the mistake that had been made was ours--and not theirs. And now we had an extra taco. There it was sitting on the table, all wrapped up in it's little paper sleeping bag with a blue "especial" sticker on it. My husband rose immediately, wallet in hand and went to pay for this extra taco, explaining our error to the man at the helm of the store. The manager politely said, "This is my house, enjoy it on me."

Integrity matters all the time. I learned this as a young woman and I've have tried to hold onto it each day since. I remember a time, when my kids were very young, that I seemed to be finding myself in integrity inducing situations every time I would venture into a Target store. The first instance was when our 3rd born was young enough to be in an infant seat. I maneuvered my way through the store, with the baby and the other two toddlers, and gathered the items I needed. I stopped to pick out an eye shadow, to wear on a date night that I would be going on that evening, and then moved on. We made it through the check-out isle with the distractions of "Mommy, please...can I have..." and then we headed home. With the baby asleep in her infant seat and the other two children doing...(Lord knows can I remember anything anymore!), I unloaded my bags. But, to my dismay, I couldn't find my new eye shadow. Disappointed, I went on to do other things. Later, when the baby began to wake, I took her out of her infant seat and, to my surprise, there was the eye shadow in her infant seat.

"I'm a thief"
I opened the package, used the eye shadow for the desired smokey eyes I wanted for my date and saved the wrapping to take with me to the store. The next day I loaded the kids in the car and returned to pay for the make-up. It was a little embarrassing to explain to the young man behind that counter that I had taken the item home (used it) and was now here to actually pay for it!
I was sad about it though, because I knew my motivation was more about fear than anything else. I knew that "no one" would ever know...but I also knew that God would always know. I remember a few days later sharing with a friend that my real motivation was only out of "fear" of God punishing me and that it made me sad that I didn't naturally want to do the right thing, aside from facing God's wrath. That was the day my friend quoted me a life changing Bible verse:
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline" Proverbs 1:7

It wasn't a but week or two later that I was in the same Target store for something else, when I decided to buy a pair of shorts, without trying them on. (WARNING: this is never a good idea) I once again gathered all of the items I needed and made my way through the candy laced check-out isle. This time, however, I was very careful to check the infant seat to make sure I didn't inadvertently steal, again.
When I returned home and had the wherewithal to try on the shorts--I despised my purchase. They were awful! I pulled out the receipt to insure that I would have it when I returned the shorts, but, as I inspected the receipt, I noticed that the checker had not added the shorts to my bill. Somehow, in the fuss of trying to get me and my three children out of their store, they had failed to charge me for this one item and, naturally, it was the one item I noticed because now, I didn't want the said item. I immediately loaded the children back into the car and drove to the big red target to fix this matter. I certainly didn't want this hanging over me.
Naturally, the employee who was working behind the counter was the same young man I had just encountered a couple weeks prior. I explained to him that I didn't want to keep the shorts, so I was returning them. The conversation went something like this:
Me: I don't want these shorts, I want to return them.
Target: Do you have your receipt?
Me: Yes, but they're not on it.
Target: Do you have the receipt that they are on?
Me: No. I mean, there isn't one. I mean this is the one that they should be on, but you guys didn't charge me.
Target: Oh, so, you just want to return them?
Me: Yes.
Target: Well, without a receipt I can only give you store credit.
Me: No...
Target: Sorry, Mam, that's our policy.
Me: No...what I mean is. You aren't supposed to give my any money. You didn't charge me for them. I don't want anything from you...I just need to return them to you.
Target: Um...I'm gonna have to get my manager. I don't know if we can do that.

It was such a strange experience, one that has stayed with me as a reminder that God cares about the little things that happen in my ordinary life. It is the victory in these little things that give us the courage to face the bigger things. All these little victories add up to a great big VICTORY.

I know a man who lives his life in an attempt to always maintain a standard of integrity. He is a Pastor at one of the churches where we have served in ministry. Recently, I heard that he is helping his daughter, her husband and their two daughters get into a new home. The housing economy being what it is, his daughter and her husband found that they wouldn't be able to be the signers on a short sale loan for a great home for their family. This led my Pastor friend to decide to take out a loan in his name to help them. The only catch, he has to live in it for a year. Apparently, with the loan they are using, the signer must be the primary occupant in the home for the first 12 months. So, the daughter and her family are moving into his home and he and his wife are moving into the newly purchased home...for one year. After one year, they will swap. In the meantime, he will live on his daughter's furniture and his granddaughters will live on his. Letting his grandchildren live on his furniture alone is an example of faith! But, I really admire the man for taking on the inconvience to maintain his principles and the principles that he teaches from the pulpit.

So, today, as I enjoy my fish taco in complete peace, I can only hope that along this path of attempting to live with virtue in my $2.59 decisions, the Lord will see my heart and my desire to please him and allow me more and more opportunities to choose His will.