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A Stolen Watch and a Teachable Time

I stole a watch the other day.  My husband and I took the kids to a children’s apparel store in the mall to try on winter coats.  It was one of those places that jams so much product into such a small space that your kid can just barely reach their arm outside the stroller and pull down an entire rack of clothing.  Upon our arrival, my son spotted a red and blue watch, strategically placed on a low display rack to tempt the coveting heart of little ones.

Honestly, Ethan does not often attach himself to random items in the store and demand they become his, but that’s exactly what he did.  I first responded in low whispers saying, “No, buddy, we’re here to try on coats today.”  He continued to demand the watch.  “Well, you can ask for this watch for Christmas.  It’s coming soon!”  His volume began to escalate and tone become sour, “I want this watch!”  I wish I could tell you that I stayed cool as a cucumber, but I gave him the “Mom look” and got a tone myself as I reiterated that he would NOT be getting that watch today. By this time my toddler had strewn her shoes and socks across the store, the Christmas music was blaring, and my son was crying loudly…so in desperation I threw the watch in my bag, hoping it would be out-of-sight, out-of-mind and motioned for my husband in an exasperated manner.
He ended up removing our out-of-control preschooler to the dressing room for a little come-to-Jesus conversation, both of us baffled by this whole scene.  They eventually decided that Ethan would use his birthday money to purchase a watch, which he chose off of the rack.  In the aftermath of all the drama, I completely forgot that I had tossed the original watch in my bag.
Honestly, I’m not sure that a desire for my kids to be good, moral citizens would have been enough motivation for me to drag them back to the mall the very next day without the help of my husband.  Ethan didn’t even have to know that I stole the watch and I was confident that I wouldn’t be caught for this accidental theft.
But I want more for my children than morality.  I desire wholeness. There is nothing I want more for them than to have well-ordered, healthy souls.  I pray that they would not be double-minded, living in a place of disintegration between their hearts and lives.  As John Ortberg insightfully states in his latest book, Soul Keeping,  “When my will is consistently, freely, joyfully aligned with what I most deeply value, my soul finds rest.  That is wholeness.  When I live with half-hearted devotion, my soul is always strained.”
As we weaved through the sea of people and strollers and Christmas décor to get back to the store, my son and I shared a beautiful, teachable moment about why we live with integrity.  We talked about our design.  We talked about the promises of God.  We talked about living a life that honors Him.  We talked about the blessing and joy of walking with God.  And God filled my heart with gratitude for the stolen watch.
Ashlee Johnson

Ashlee is the wife of a pastor, mom of two busy little ones, and a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Seminary. She is passionate about communicating the truths of Scripture to women and magnifying Jesus as the All-Satisfying Treasure and Almighty Redeemer. She has lived in North Carolina for most of her life and loves making the most of the sidewalks and parks in her 1940s neighborhood. Ashlee enjoys healthy eating and exercising, but finds it nearly impossible to resist homemade cookies!

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