Being True to Myself

Being True to Myself

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

Being True to Myself

Between two evils, choose neither; between two goods, choose both.

~Tryon Edwards

My parents and I had been planning my brother’s birthday party since the beginning of March. Johnny would be six years old in two days. My mom was going to bake her special chocolate cake with white icing. As I watched her, I thought, Gee, I wonder what I can do to make my brother’s birthday special.

I decided to empty my coin jar and see how much money I had saved. I was disappointed to find much less than I had imagined. “Oh, no, I only have about three dollars,” I muttered to myself. I knew my parents had already bought a present for me to give to Johnny, but I wanted to buy him something I had chosen myself and with the money I had saved. I wanted to buy him the paint-by-number kit I had seen at the store, but the set cost more than I had saved.

Disappointed, I went into my parents’ bedroom where my dad kept loose change on top of the dresser. I stood on my tiptoes and saw some dimes, nickels, and a few quarters. I carefully counted out what I needed to make up the difference. I’m sure Dad won’t mind just this once, I thought. However, I was soon overcome by guilt. Even though there was no one else in the bedroom, I felt like I was being watched. Mom was always telling us about the importance of honesty. She had even made up a short poem for us:

Always be honest in everything you say and do,

Because God is always watching over you.

When there seems to be no one else around,

That’s where God is always found.

Maybe my plan wasn’t such a great idea after all, I thought. My dad would be home in another hour, and my mom was busy in the kitchen preparing dinner. I jingled the change around in my pocket while wondering what to do.

I grabbed my jacket from the closet and headed toward the door.

“Where are you going, honey?” Mom asked.

“Oh, just up to the corner store,” I replied.

“Well, don’t stay out too long. Daddy will be home soon.”

“Okay, Mom.”

Once I got to the store, I took the paint-by-number kit from the shelf.

“Can I help you, young lady?” the salesclerk asked.

“No… I’m just looking, thank you,” I said.

“That’s a really nice paint kit. We sell a lot of them and, as you can see, that’s the last one,” she said.

I nodded my head in agreement, but finally decided to do what was right.

I placed the paint-by-number kit back on the shelf and headed home.

Luckily, once I got home, Mom was busy talking on the phone, so I was able to slip past the kitchen without being noticed. I went to my parents’ room to return the coins I had taken. I arranged them into a neat stack — just like they were before — and sighed with relief, knowing I had done the right thing.

I knew the paint kit would have been the perfect present for my brother. I would just have to wait until I saved the extra money I needed. I figured I could earn it by doing odd jobs around the house. Mrs. Davis, the salesclerk, had even agreed that she would hold the paint set behind the counter for me until I had enough money to pay for it.

I wasn’t able to buy the paint kit until two weeks later, but it seemed extra special when I was finally able to lay my money on the counter. I smiled as I raced home knowing I had made the right decision.

~Terri Meehan

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