One day my friend Henry called me because he was in trouble at school. Without meaning to, he broke a school rule, and his parents had to meet with the vice principal to discuss it. He had brought his small pocketknife to school. He certainly wasn't going to hurt anyone with it, and he probably wasn't even going to open it. But it was against the rules to bring a pocketknife to school, and Henry was in trouble.
As we talked, I could tell he was sorry he had broken a rule. Because it was tempting to make excuses - like he didn't do it on purpose or he didn't know about the rule - I thought it might help if he remembered this sentence that the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: "Honesty is spiritual power" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 453).
Henry and I talked about what to do when you make a mistake, break a rule, or do something you shouldn't have. Facing up to the situation cannot cause you harm. When you are honest, you admit that something needs to be corrected and you apologize for any wrong action.
Henry was afraid of going to the meeting with the vice principal. It took courage to go. He had to keep remembering that he was a child of God, not a rule-breaker. He prayed to God, and the idea occurred to him that God was proud of him every day, because of all the good things he did naturally. He reflected God's goodness, honesty, and integrity. Facing up to this problem didn't seem so hard when he remembered this, and it helped him to be brave.
Henry was given a punishment, but he understood it was necessary. He knew that when you break a rule, you need to correct yourself, and he was relieved to face up to the situation and learn how to make things better.
Later, I thought about Henry and how God sees him. I know Henry to be a really great kid, not a "troublemaker" or a "rule-breaker," and I know that God cares for him with an even bigger love than mine.
As I thought about Henry and his situation, I remembered something that might be helpful to him. Every Monday I sing with a chorus from my county. After about 10 weeks of rehearsal, we perform our songs in local churches all around our county, and families come to hear us. Children squirm and are restless during our opening work, which is serious and often in another language, such as Latin. The second half of the program is filled with songs many people love and are familiar with. Afterward, everybody gathers to grab the goodies our chorale members have baked or bought to share.
This year we had a new conductor. His name is Doug, and we all like him a lot because he is so patient and helpful. When a section like the one I'm in - the alto section - isn't singing its part correctly, Doug has a kind way of telling them. He comes close to that group and says, "Altos, you sing that part so well that, when you don't do it right, I notice it so much more." Doug says this to the group as a whole, too, "You know, it's your own fault. You sing this so beautifully that now some of the smaller things that need correcting are more noticeable." And we all try even harder to get it right.
Thinking about what was right and not becoming discouraged when something needed correcting was a good lesson for me.
Just as Doug says to all the singers, I can say to Henry, "It's only because you are so good that even these small things must come out to be washed away if they aren't representing the real you." Henry was given an opportunity to be brave and honest. He learned he had the strength to face any problem and work through it because he could turn to God and never feel alone.
Don't ever be afraid
or discouraged! I am
the Lord your God,
and I will be there to
help you wherever you go.