Heather Mends a Mistake


Only a week had passed since Heather’s baptism, and she felt miserable. She could still remember the fresh, clean feeling that had warmed her as her father helped her back up the steps of the baptismal font. I want to feel this good forever, she had thought at the time. Now she wondered if that happiness would ever return.

Earlier today, with her best friend, Susan, running after her, Heather had raced up the three front steps, into the house, and straight to the family room. Even snacks couldn’t have pulled them away from their plans for the afternoon. Dad had brought home a new space video game the night before, and Heather had been anxious to show Susan how she’d mastered it already. As they had burst into the family room, Heather’s redheaded brother, Sean, was sprawled sideways in a chair, watching TV. He’d just finished gluing together a model airplane, which now rested on the small table in front of him.

“Susan and I want to play the video game now,” Heather had announced. “Will you please turn the TV off?”

“Just let me finish watching this program,” Sean had answered.

“But we can’t,” Heather had wailed. “Susan has to be home in just a few minutes.”

“Well, I’m sorry, but I was here first,” Sean had said testily, “and I want to see the end of this show.”

Stiffening, Heather had said, “You always get here first; it’s not fair!” She had headed for the TV to turn it off. But before she’d gotten there, she had seen the newly completed model airplane. And before she’d thought twice about it, Heather had snatched the plane and thrown it to the floor. Bits of broken wood had flown in every direction. She hadn’t waited for Sean’s response but had grabbed Susan’s hand and said, “C’mon, let’s go.”

Now shame clutched at Heather. She longed to tell Sean that she was sorry that she had destroyed his model airplane. Apologizing wouldn’t restore it, though.

Heather couldn’t even manage her welcome smile and hug for Dad when he strolled in the front door from the office. The most she could muster was a quiet “Hi.”

Dad gave her a squeeze anyway and asked, “What’s wrong with my girl?”

“Oh, nothing.”

“Why don’t you tell me about it?” he asked.

Before any words could struggle out, tears spilled from Heather’s eyes. Her sobs changed to sniffles as she told the whole story. It surprised her that telling Dad helped ease some of the misery.

Dad listened until she finished. “Well,” he said calmly, “you must feel ashamed.”

Heather looked down at her knees and nodded.

“I’m disappointed in the way you’ve acted,” Dad went on, “but your feelings of shame are an important part of repentance. We can never really repent until we are sorry for what we’ve done. I can see that you really are sorry about the way that you acted. Now, what do you think you should do next?”

“I guess first I should tell Sean that I’m sorry,” Heather answered.

“I think that that is good idea. There is someone else whom you need to apologize to as well, Heather. Do you know who He is?”

“Heavenly Father. And I’ve already done that, Dad. I prayed just a little while ago and asked Him to forgive me.”

“That’s good,” Dad said. “I can see that you know a lot about repentance already. Now there’s one more important thing that you need to do.” He explained to her that she needed to make restitution by replacing Sean’s model airplane.

After apologizing to Sean, Heather went to check the contents of her bank. Three one-dollar bills were rolled and stuffed into the plastic money jar. Dad had said that it would probably cost at least five dollars to buy a new model kit, and just to make sure that she would have enough, Heather planned to earn at least three more dollars.

The next week was a busy one for Heather. She tended her younger brother whenever Mom needed her to. Mom also paid her to clean out some kitchen drawers and cupboards and to sweep the garage. Her neighbor, Mrs. Briggs, was glad to have Heather walk her dog during the week, which added to her earnings. She helped Dad, too, by raking the lawn and weeding the flower bed.

After supper on Friday she eagerly counted her money, “One, two, three, four, five, six.” She fingered the wrinkled bills carefully before returning them to the plastic jar. “… twenty, thirty, thirty-five—six dollars and thirty-five cents!” she cried triumphantly, pushing the last nickel back into the bank. With the bank held tightly in her hand, Heather ran to find her dad. He had promised to take her to buy the new airplane kit as soon as she was ready.

When they returned from the store, Heather could hardly wait to find Sean. She pulled a sack from behind her back and held it out to him. Slowly he took it from her and asked, “What’s this?”

“Just open it. You’ll see,” Heather replied.

Sean pulled the new model kit from the sack. As he reached in and pulled out a candy bar, too, Heather glowed with almost the same sensation she’d had when she’d been baptized. She felt almost like a balloon ready to pop as she watched the smile on Sean’s face widen into a grin.

“Thanks,” he said. “Want to help me make it?”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Denise Kirby