A Reality Check

More about our need for someone else to force us to look in the mirror . . .

About 25 years ago, when I was about 25,  I received an unexpected windfall.  At the time, I was working as a Wilderness Camp Counselor, not making much money.  One day I opened a piece of mail from my bank, and inside was a check for $15,145.73.  That was more than my yearly salary!

I was conflicted about what to do.  Of course, it wasn’t my money.  But I hadn’t asked for it, so maybe it was like a gift.  (Yeah, right!)  It was probably a mistake, but it wasn’t my mistake.  It was the bank’s error, and they were a big, rich company.  They wouldn’t miss it.  At least not very much.  Maybe it was like that Chance card in Monopoly – “Bank Error in your favor, collect $200.”  Except it was much more than $200!

But deep down I knew I should turn the check in to the bank.

But  I really wanted to keep that money!  That meant the question I needed to ask was not, “Is it right,” but rather, “Can I get away with it?”  My friends and I spent a couple of days imagining all the things we could do with $15,000+.  We even called British Airways to find out how much it would cost to fly on the Concorde to London.

Finally, I called my mom.  You see, my mother was a legal secretary.  I told her what had happened, and asked her if she would please run the situation by one of her attorney bosses to see how I could maybe legally keep the money.

My mom’s answer was something like this: “I will NOT!  That is not your money.  I am disappointed in you.  You have always had so much integrity, I can’t believe you would even think about doing something so dishonest.  Now go give that check back to that bank!”

The next day, that’s what I did.  My mom had jolted me into taking an honest look in the mirror.  In Christian terms, I had repented.  With our amazing capacity for self-justification and rationalization, we all need to listen closely for those invitations to look in that clear mirror of reality.  It’s not comfortable (as I wrote earlier this week), but it is necessary if we are to cast off the shades of self-delusion and see ourselves as we really are – flawed . . .but forgiven.

About pastordavesimpson

I'm an unexpected pastor. Why unexpected? Because no one is more surprised than me that I'm a pastor. See the "About" page on my blog for more info.
This entry was posted in Christian Living, Christianity, Parenting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Reality Check

  1. She got you on the ball!


  2. JS Park says:

    Same thing happened when I paid about 15 bucks for a full tank of gas; the meter was broken. I drove away and called my friend about how lucky I was. He rebuked me and told me to go back. Reluctantly I went back to the gas station, and the kind lady at the register said, “I can’t take the gas out yo car. You have a good ‘un now.” Not only did I leave with a clear conscience, but a $15 tank of gas. 🙂


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