April 26th…“DID YOU EVER STEAL/TAKE ANYTHING THAT WAS NOT YOURS? WHAT HAPPENED? DID YOU GET CAUGHT?”
To vitiate oneself in the interest of strengthening the next generation is an endeavor to which I’ll aspire. My transparency of sharing a life failure is with the goal of teaching a more godly character trait to my children, grandchildren and future generations that come after me to strive for a stronger moral compass and to always employ the vicissitude to choose the right and suppress the wrong that, in stealth, looms within each human heart…..ready to corrupt, if allowed to generate. Now, on with the story.
Nestled in the center of Main Street, in our hometown of Kiester, Minnesota, was a fine business known as “Bloom’s Variety Store”. This business endeavor was owned and operated by Mr. & Mrs. Chester Bloom. Their young daughter, Nancy, was a classmate of mine in Grade School days.
A cornucopia of goodies, from A to Z awaited any Kiesterite that strode through the narrow, single doorway that led into that establishment. Local families could buy almost anything from fabrics and patterns, for Mom, all the way up to tools, for Dad, to help with repairs on the farm. Gifts were available for all occasions with a greeting card section to go along with those gifts. And, any local kid of my generation would tell you how grand their candy selection was for us to enjoy, too. My sugar glands would just DROOL from the scrumptious confections just waiting to be purchased and consumed.
In the remote, northeast corner of “Bloom’s Variety” lay a vast treasure of toys and goodies that any red-blooded American kid could would give anything to have for his very own. When our family made the weekly Saturday excursion into town for shopping and the “Lucky Bucks Drawing”, one of my sure stops would be the back corner of “Bloom’s Variety Store”.
While browsing in their “toy heaven”, I’d imagine all the fun I’d have with these little boy delights if I could have them all to myself. Such nuggets of “toy gold” resided there like toy soldiers, cap guns, ball & jacks, little farming toys ……..ohhhh the list of possible joys were endless. Now entered the need for the monetary means to HAVE those treasures for my very own. My usual weekly spending money (25 cents) from Dad and Mom didn’t go as far as I would’ve liked it to, especially when I’d walk into “Bloom’s” and see all the potential fun back in that corner of “toy utopia”.
There’s an expression…..”I can resist anything, EXCEPT temptation!” Sadly, that saying “came to life” in me one day as I stood there, in that toy aisle, lusting after some toys and with nothing but “spiderwebs” in my pockets for money. I KNEW, in my heart, that what I was about to do was wrong, but the decision in my little conniving mind was already made up to go forward with this despicable deed anyway.
The question in my rationalizing mind was, HOW to do this sinful deed? I began by looking way up to the front of the store to see if Mr. Bloom was engaged with other customers. The timing seemed right as I saw him occupied with a customer’s large order on his checkout stand. My hand reached out and grabbed a fistful of green plastic toy soldiers and I stuffed them in my deep-pocketed overcoat. Burdened with my stolen items and already burdened with guilt, I made my way up to the front of the store and sheepishly smiled at Mr. Bloom while I slunked out the front door and onto the sidewalk.
With the stolen “booty” in my pockets, I had made it “away with the goods” and proceeded to the family car and then home to the farm.
Days rolled into months as I played with those “ill-gotten gains” and every time those toy soldiers came out, my conscience would plague me about what I had done to procure those specific playthings. Yet, I was too chicken-hearted to “face the music” of going back to “Bloom’s Variety Store” to confess and “do the time for the crime”. I was tortured daily with the thoughts of what my parents would think of me, had they known of my sin, and how both of them would be so disappointed in this son who would allow himself to DO such a dastardly deed as being a thief!
Years passed, and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and became a Christian. The Holy Spirit, via God’s Word “spoke” to my heart about this issue through various Bible studies and sermons I heard. My heart became more and more tender to the relation of confessing my sins (1st John 1:9) and asking forgiveness from those I had wronged in my past. I decided that I would write to Mr. Bloom to ask forgiveness for what I had done in my childhood and offer him payment far above whatever those toys were worth at the time of my sordid soldier swiping. Alas, as I sought out the family’s information and address back in Minnesota, I discovered that they had sold the business and moved away from our hometown.
I rejoice that our Lord Jesus forgives all of our sins, from the taking of green plastic toy soldiers to whatever causes us to fail in life. So, “Mr. Bloom, please forgive me for my sin that day and accept the apologies of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son”.
Epilogue: At the initial writing of this story, I didn’t know what had happened to the Bloom family after our Kiester days. Turns out, they had, like my family, sold their store in 1968 (a year after our leaving the area) and had settled in another area of Minnesota. I am very happy to report that, thanks to Facebook, I experienced the joyous pleasure of reconnecting with Nancy Bloom Hursh. In sharing this story with her, she assured me that her father was a VERY forgiving man, and that she was confident that he would’ve forgiven me for this childhood sin and welcomed me into his friendship once again. Praise The Lord!! ><> 😉