Remorse Knows No Price Value

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(This is an excerpt from Face to Face: Seeking a Personal Relationship with God by S. Michael Wilcox.

“Our family loved to explore the canyons and arches of the Moab, Utah, area. We spent a great deal of time hiking and camping there. One day while in Moab we walked into the Moab Rock Shop. (Every time I drive by, I recall this experience and the warm memory always brings a smile to my face.) Inside there were trays and boxes of various minerals, geodes, antiques, blue bottles and mason jars, old farming tools, and more.

My youngest son, about eight or nine at the time, was captivated by a particular shiny rock in one of the smaller bins, marked for sale for one dollar. He had to have that rock, but failed to express this to either his mother or me. Instead, he picked it up, put it in his pocket when no one was looking, and walked out with it. That was a small act of dishonesty, but it began to trouble his little heart. As the days went by, that gnawing, gripping pain filled his soul more and more. He thought about it almost hourly. His demeanor changed; he was no longer a happy-go-lucky kid. He hid the rock at home under the paw of a stuffed animal, but it had ceased to give any joy. Instead, it became a reminder of his shame. A rock that cost a dollar isn’t, in reality, much to worry about, I suppose, but remorse knows no price value.

“His heart needed emptying, but he needed help to do so. He took the rock into the kitchen where his mother was working and began to tap it on the counter. In time, the sound annoyed my wife and she turned and asked him what he had in his hand. He opened his fingers and showed her the glittering stone which weighed a ton in his mind; the tears began to fall. Laurie, guessing the cause, asked our son the question that allowed the pouring out to begin: ‘Where did you get this, McKay?’ Out spilled the story.

The two of them sat down to decide what should be done. McKay taught our family one of the purest lessons I know about remorse and cleansing. He decided that he should write a letter to the Moab Rock Shop and return the rock. This was not enough, however; he wanted to include a dollar as payment also. The letter was written, the dollar and rock enclosed, but before sealing the envelope, McKay asked, ‘What if they don’t remember who I was?’ He decided he needed to draw a picture of himself and include it as well.

We were moved by his picture; he drew a sad face with tears and a downturned mouth. He remembered he had been wearing a Cub Scout hat the day he had taken the rock, and told Laurie he thought they might know who he was if he drew his face with the hat. So the hat was added. With the letter sealed and mailed, our son no longer moped. The pouring in had begun. The full inward tide came a little while later when McKay received a letter from Moab. It read:

“Dear McKay,
“My name is Cooper. I work at the Moab Rock Shop. [Below this, Cooper had drawn a picture of the rock shop with his own face looking out one of the windows.] Thank you very much for returning the rock you stole. Your Mom and Dad are right—it is very bad to steal. To steal is wrong and it makes you feel badly too. “I am keeping your dollar and sending you the rock. You have paid for the rock now, so now you can feel good. [Cooper had drawn a picture of McKay with a happy face.] Thank you for being so considerate—stop by and see us next time you come to Moab!
“Your friend,
“Cooper.

“My son still has that letter, and the shiny rock taped to it.”

(S. Michael Wilcox, Face to Face: Seeking a Personal Relationship with God [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013], 24–26).

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