Little White Elephant
I was reading the paper and learned another famous person had made the news with a not-so
-good report. Seems like there’s a lot of that lately.
Another one “bit the dust” as we used to say. Sometimes it’s pretty vile, like murder, hit and run or child abuse. This one was accused of shop lifting.
“Why?” I thought. “She makes millions and can buy anything she wants. What would make a person do that?”
And then it was like I heard God say, “Hmm, excuse me, you do forget so easily.”
“Ouch,” I remembered. I’d like not to, but I did.
I was only 4, but it is indelible in my mind. We lived next door to Mr. and Mrs. Lassiter—I called them Pat and Pat Pat—an elderly couple whose only daughter was grown and gone, with no grandchildren. So, they thought of me as their granddaughter and allowed me to come and go in their home as I pleased. I did love them. As I was in and out of their home several times a day, I would always go out through the living room, passing by what they called the “what knot” table. They had several porcelain objects on that table, one being a little white porcelain elephant. I had passed by these probably a hundred times or more and never thought about them. But, on this particular day, as I was leaving, I reached out, snatched the little white elephant and kept going.
Once I had done this, I couldn’t take it back, because I knew it was wrong. I was afraid and ashamed. As I went inside my home, I took it out of my pocket and hid it in the drawer of a chest we never used, or so I thought. In a couple of days, my mother found it and asked me where it came from. My first instinct was to say, “I don’t know,” but my mother had a way of looking at you with those eyes that if you lied, you knew flames would shoot down from heaven and dev
our you on the spot. I still believed that until the day she died.
So, I looked at the floor and told her where it came from.
I was thinking all the time, “You’re dead, Patsy, this is it, your last day on earth.”
That would have been a blessing. It was worse than that. She told me I would have to take it back next door and tell my neighbors I had taken it without asking.
“Oh no,” I thought, “this is worse than death.”
I really wanted to die before I reached their front porch, but the Lord wasn’t doing me any favors that day. When I stood before Mrs. Lassiter, I was so ashamed.
“I took this,” I said, as big tears rolled down my face. “I’m really sorry.”
She took me in her arms and held me.
“You did wrong in not asking,” she said. “You must not do that again, but I forgive you and I love you, do you understand?”
She would never know just how much I did understand and how deep the lesson she taught me was. It had a profound effect on me, and I made sure nothing ever stuck to my fingers again.
These kind of lessons are lasting ones!