This story is by Lacy Pierce and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Jay! You put that back right now!” My fifth grade teacher’s voice makes me jump about five feet in the air. She yanks the stick of Juicy Fruit from my hand and throws it back onto Nona’s desk in the activity space next to our classroom. I start to bawl.
“You are going to fill out a Redeem sheet right now. You are staying in for recess and you are staying after school until four for the rest of this week. I will call your mom. What you just did is stealing. Do you think you would like it if someone did that to you?”
All I can do is shake my head. It’s just not fair. I have been taking candy and stuff from Nona’s desk all year-it’s spring now-and I have never gotten caught until now. Nona’s really nice sometimes and gives Sue and me a lot of candy when we’re good. She sometimes gives us a stick of gum but never lets us chew it in the classroom. I really love Juicy Fruit but Mom won’t buy it. She says it’s too candy-ish. So I’ve just been taking it when I can.
While I sit at Nona’s desk filling out the Redeem sheet, she comes back from her break. I hear Mrs. Lane telling her what I did. She’s still mad.
When I finish answering about why I did it, how I hurt Nona and Mrs. Lane by doing it, and how I can keep myself from doing it next time, I hand the sheet to Mrs. Lane. She quickly takes it back into the classroom to put in the student logbook. Nona is sitting next to me. I am still sobbing.
“Jay…” she takes a deep breathe. “why?”
“I really love Juicy Fruit and my mom won’t let me have any because she thinks it tastes like candy!” I yell.
“That’s no excuse, Jay. You can’t just have whatever you want whenever you want it. I buy the Juicy Fruit and candy and it’s up to me give to you and Sue when you guys do a good job on your work. Have you ever heard me give the two of you permission to just take either of them?”
I can’t look at Nona right now but I shake my head and sob some more. I hate her and Mrs. Lane!
Five minutes later…
Nona stays in with me during recess because Mrs. Lane has to be outside. Mrs. Lane makes me write her a short report on why stealing is wrong. As if I don’t already know! I’m really missing playing kickball and teasing the girls with my friends, Tony, Lars, Heath, Anthony, and Weston. I’m really scared now because my mom got off of work early and is on her way to pick me up.
I am just about finished writing my report when I find out that my mom is at Principal Ryan’s office. Nona escorts me there and I bawl the whole way. I know that it doesn’t help but I just can’t help myself.
When we get there, I can see that Principal Ryan is having a very serious talk with my mom! Now the whole school knows! I’m doomed and I’m going to jail!
I hide my eyes with my hands as soon as Nona and I walk in through the glass door. I can feel my mom tugging on the crook of my arm.
“Jay, hiding your eyes isn’t going to solve anything. Principal Ryan wants to have a talk and then we’ll go home.” I can’t help myself, I just bawl and bawl. So Principal Ryan is going to have me taken to jail! I bawl for what seems like forever. So with me still hiding my eyes with my hands, we go over to Principal Ryan’s desk. Mom lifts me into a chair.
“Well, Jay, I won’t make you uncover your eyes. But I do want to make it very clear to you that stealing-it doesn’t matter what it is that you steal-has very serious consequences. It’s very selfish and it hurts everyone. It’s hurting you right now, it’s hurting your mother, Mrs. Lane, Nona and me.”
I can only nod.
“Well, then, why did you do it?” I uncover my eyes and tell her what I told Nona.
“Jay!” Mom says when I finish. “You can’t blame me or anyone else like that. It was your choice to take that stick of Juicy Fruit. I am your mother, I make the rules in the house because I know what’s best for you and I’ve taught you better than that! You also don’t want to become like Daddy.”
My dad is in jail for something called identity theft. He won’t be getting out until I’m thirteen. I so wish he were here!
“And, Jay,” says Principal Ryan. “the next time you do it here at school, you will be suspended-that means that you will be sent to the IIS room and do nothing but work and eat a sack lunch. Do you understand?” I nod. I have never seen Principal Ryan this mad before and it really scares me. A couple of kids in my class have been sent to IIS a lot. They’ve told everyone that it’s worse than jail. You can’t talk at all, you sit at a desk all day with dividers on both sides and there’s basically no room for anything except you and your work. I really don’t want to end up there!
Ten minutes later…
My mom is not the kind who says,
“I hope you learned your lesson,” and lets it go.
When we leave Principal Ryan’s office and during the entire car ride home, she blabs on about how stealing is against God, that we’re going to pray about it to ask God to forgive me, blah, blah, blah.
As soon as we get home, she tells me that I am grounded for the rest of this week. I can’t even talk to Anthony, Tony, Lars, Heath, and Weston outside of school, I can’t have any dessert after dinner, and we are going to see Pastor Hemlock tomorrow. She’s already called him.
She gets on me to confess and apologize to God and Jesus for hurting them, too. She says that always doing your best to please God and Jesus is the most important thing you can ever do. If you do something wrong and don’t know it, that’s one thing. God and Jesus understand that. But if you do something that you know is wrong-like my stealing that stick of Juicy Fruit today-that’s sinning and the only way to get rid of sin is by asking God and Jesus for heartfelt forgiveness. And not do it again. Mom just won’t leave it alone!
That’s it! I am never stealing again! Loving God and Jesus are much more important.
The next day…
When my torture of a detention time is up, Mom and me go to see Pastor Hemlock. When we go into his office, he looks very sad. It really hurts because I love Pastor Hemlock like a dad.
“Jay…” Pastor Hemlock says my name very quietly. It really scares me. “…why did you choose to displease God?”
“Because I wanted a stick of Juicy Fruit gum.” Pastor Hemlock looks at me for a long time, which scares me even more.
“I see,” he finally says. “and hurting a neighbor by stealing a stick of Juicy Fruit gum is more important than loving God?”
I can’t believe what he’s saying! Nona’s not my neighbor, she doesn’t live on my block
“Neighbor in this case means someone you love and care about.”
“I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone! I just wan-!”
“You may not have been trying to hurt anyone, Jay. But some actions, such as stealing, are hurtful no matter what we intend. Hurting others hurts Jesus. And it also hurt ourselves…Jay, do you really want to hurt people?”
Oh, no! I can’t help myself crying again.
“No,” That’s all I can say.
“Okay, then let’s pray…Father, one of your precious children here has sinned against You by taking something that does not belong to him. His sin has hurt You, himself and others. Father, heal Jay’s soul, help him to understand the consequences of his actions and to see that he does not repeat this. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
When Pastor Hemlock finishes, I have this weird warm feeling in my chest area. It is much better than all the Juicy Fruit in the world. I know that this is God’s love shining through me because I was sorry for my sin. I don’t need any words to know that I have been saved again.