When I was a young girl, I remember getting caught almost every time I was in the wrong. I hated it then, but honestly, it was one of the best things that happened to me in my childhood.
One summer night, when I was thirteen, my parents dropped me off at a new friend’s house to spend the night. Right before she left, Mom specifically told me to not walk to Kroger, a 24-hour grocery store that was close to my friend’s house. Mom knew that would be a temptation for my friend and me because it was kind of a local hangout for pre-teens (lame, I know). I promised Mom that I wouldn’t go there, and she hugged me and left.
As the night pressed on, my friend and I called up a few other friends to see what they were doing. Of course, they said they were planning on walking over to Kroger. I became so anxious as I knew that I would have to tell my friend I had promised my mother that I wouldn’t step foot in there. My friend was already making plans with other girls for us to meet up there, and before I knew it … before I said ANYTHING at all about what I had PROMISED my mom … the two of us were walking to Kroger way after dark.
The whole walk there, I felt sick. I knew I was going directly AGAINST my mom’s wishes. The voices in my adolescent head were going crazy weighing the pros and cons of carrying out our quest to Kroger. I could have told my friend the truth, and I’m sure she would have walked back to the house with me. But I didn’t.
I. Said. Nothing.
The ten-minute walk seemed like an hour, but once we walked through the automatic, sliding glass doors and I felt the AC hit me along with all of the familiar smells of your standard supermarket, an excitement came over me.
I was at Kroger—WITHOUT MY PARENTS—YET, WITH MY FRIENDS. And, I got there ALL BY MYSELF, with my own two legs.
It felt amazing. It felt freeing. It. Felt. Good …
for about ten minutes …
Then, as I exited the store with my Snickers bar and Mountain Dew that I purchased in hand, I noticed a familiar car pulling up to the door.
It was my MOM AND DAD!
I was caught dead in my tracks.
I could barely look her in the eye, but I did. She looked at me with glassy eyes, barely even blinked, and in a creepy yet startling, chipper voice said, “What are you doing, here?” obviously a rhetorical question.
All I could say was, “Hi, Mom … I … I … I’m ssssoooooo sorry!” I knew I had to fess up. I wanted to go home, and honestly, I assumed that she would order me to get in the car right at that moment. But she didn’t.
She said nothing … for a solid minute that felt like ten.
Finally, I decided to take the matter into my own hands. I told my friend that I had to go home, and I started walking toward the car. As I opened the car door to get in, Mom said, “Ashley, you don’t have to get in the car. Go have fun with your friends. We’ll have a talk tomorrow.”
Wha, what? Tomorrow?
The only thing worse than getting caught right in the act of disobedience is having to wait until THE NEXT DAY to deal with it. I wanted to come clean right then. I wanted to confess, ask forgiveness, learn from my mistakes, and MOVE ON!
Waiting until tomorrow to have a “talk” with my mom was torture … and SHE KNEW IT. Mom wanted me to deal with the reality of my wrongdoing. She wanted me to sweat the consequences.
Mom wanted this moment of me getting caught to be so awful … so awkward … so worrisome that I would do EVERYTHING I could to not make the same mistakes in the future.
If I was going to do something wrong, she wanted to catch me in the act. That is the very reason she drove to Kroger late in the night.
She knew, and she wanted to be there to PROTECT and CATCH me. And, she did.
The next day, I went home and apologized to my parents. I was grounded for quite some time, and I knew that I NEVER wanted to go through that kind of agony again. I knew Mom and Dad were smart. I had a healthy fear of the consequences that would ensue if I broke their trust again, and I didn’t want to go there.
Dear Reader, I share this story because it has taught me a lot about what I hope to do for my own kids, as their mom.
I pray they will get caught every time they do something wrong.
I don’t want them to get away with secrets, hidden agendas, or lies. They will make mistakes … WE ALL DO, but we can only learn from them when we confess our sin, repent, seek forgiveness, and learn from our mistakes.
And, as children, this usually means getting caught.
One of my favorite movies is The Emperor’s Club, starring Kevin Kline. In this movie, Kevin Kline plays the role of a teacher at a prestigious boys boarding school. During his tenure, he teaches a particular student from an extremely wealthy family who appears troubled. This student constantly wants to cut corners and obtain popularity and respect from both the students and teachers by force and underhanded schemes. This troubles Kevin Kline’s character deeply.
Many years later, the teacher has a reunion with this particular class of students to repeat a Jeopardy-like competition of knowledge. The once troubled student is in attendance, but this time, he appears as a successful, yet humble politician. He even apologizes to the teacher for his former years as a deviant student.
When the now politician competes in the battles of whits, he ALMOST takes the win and all its glory … that is until the teacher notices that his former student hasn’t changed his ways at all and is receiving all the answers from his nearby secretary, who is telling him all the correct responses through a hidden ear piece. Kevin Kline’s character is devastated to say the least. When he decides to confront his former student about the matter, the seemingly successful politician scoffs in his face, only caring about the fact that he didn’t receive his empty win after all.
He never got caught.
He never had to suffer the consequences of wrongdoings. He had been getting away with lies and crafty schemes his entire life. The movie doesn’t tell us how this man’s life carries on, but the spectator is left knowing that is only a matter of time until the politician will get caught by authorities and find himself in a tragic situation.
The TRUTH always makes its way to the surface. God designed it that way, so we can walk in His truth and love.
I hope and PRAY my kids learn this early, because getting caught in any kind of sin as an adult carries much greater and more life-altering consequences with it. It is so important that we make wise decisions as adults and seek to teach our kids right and wrong and also catch and correct them when they are in sin.
I also pray that my husband and I are the ones who catch our children in the act of their wrongdoings instead of someone else. We want to know about the sin first, so we can be the first ones to bring the truth to light, explain why what they did was wrong, and issue the consequence firmly, but lovingly.
We are all flawed human beings with an amazing capacity to do wrong but an equally awesome potential to do right.
When we are caught, we have two choices: we can deny our wrongdoings and continue down that reckless path or we can confess the wrong, repent, seek forgiveness, and allow God to turn our mistakes into something good.
I chose the latter, and I hope and pray my kiddos do too.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (ESV)
Resources: (affiliate links)
Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most by Brooke McGlothlin
Praying God’s Word For Your Kids – Prayer prompts, scriptures, and family activities.
Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Hubbard – A calendar chart for parenting your children with Scripture.