93969_000_026Thou shalt not steal (D&C 42:20).
Sweat trickled down Nathan’s back. He fingered the candy bar in his pocket—it would melt if he didn’t eat it soon. But his craving for the chocolate and nuts had disappeared as soon as he walked out of the store with it—a candy bar he hadn’t paid for—in his pocket.
Now it was growing warm and very sticky. Nathan pulled it out and looked at it. Chocolate oozed from under the wrapping onto his fingers. Spotting a trash can, he dropped it inside. I’ll feel better now, he told himself. The candy bar is gone.
But the guilt wasn’t! As he trudged home, Nathan wondered why he’d stolen the fifty-nine-cent sweet.
Later that afternoon Mother asked, “Nathan, will you go to the store for me, please? I need a gallon of milk.”
“From Brother Milligan’s store?”
“Uh … I’m sort of busy right now. Couldn’t it wait until later?”
“No, I need the milk for dinner tonight.” Taking her wallet from her purse, his mother gave Nathan a five-dollar bill. “Get a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, and a loaf of bread.” She smiled. “There should be enough left over for you to have a candy bar.”
Nathan winced at the mention of a candy bar and stared at the money in his hand.
In Milligan’s Market, he muttered a greeting to Brother Milligan. When Nathan paid for his groceries, the storekeeper put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and said, “Nathan, you look like you just lost your best friend.”
Nathan turned and tried to smile but couldn’t. How could I have stolen from Brother Milligan? How could I have stolen from anyone? he asked himself. Aloud, he said only, “Uh … I have to get home,” not meeting the storekeeper’s eyes.
Brother Milligan looked disappointed. “Come by when you can stay a while,” was all that he said.
Nathan barely tasted his dinner that evening, even though his mother had fixed his favorite meal, spaghetti and meatballs.
When Nathan knelt beside his bed to pray that night, the words caught in his throat and formed a huge lump. All he could think about was Brother Milligan, his CTR B teacher two years ago. Nathan remembered one lesson in particular, about the Saints building the Salt Lake Temple. His thoughts turned to the temple. He planned on going on a mission when he turned nineteen years old and, later, being married in the temple. How can I do any of those things when I’ve stolen something? He imagined the hurt looks on his parents’ faces if they ever learned what he’d done.
The next morning Nathan skipped breakfast. He’d asked Heavenly Father’s help and decided to fast at least one meal until he did what needed to be done. Milligan’s Market opened at eight o’clock, and he intended to be the first one there.
Inside the store, Nathan glanced around, glad that there were no other customers as yet. He found his old Primary teacher in the back. Nervously the boy cleared his throat. “Uh, Brother Milligan, I have something to tell you.”
“Could you help me lift this box of apples?” Brother Milligan asked. “When a body gets older, he can’t do all the things he once did.”
Nathan helped the storekeeper lift the crate of apples and set it on a shelf. “I stole a candy bar from you yesterday,” he blurted out.
“You know? Why didn’t you say something?”
“I figured that you’d get around to telling me when you were ready.” He stooped to lift another box.
Automatically Nathan bent down to help.
“As I was saying, a body needs some help when he gets older.” Brother Milligan sat on a crate and pushed his glasses on top of his forehead.
“Maybe I could help you,” Nathan offered. “After school and on Saturday. To make up for taking the candy bar.”
“Well now, that’s a good idea. A very good idea.” He patted Nathan’s shoulder. “Did the candy bar taste good?”
Nathan shook his head. “I threw it away.”
“I sort of figured you might.” The storekeeper looked at his watch and said, “You’d best be going. You don’t want to be late for school.”
“I’ll be here at 3:30.”
“I know you will, son.”
That evening Nathan told his parents what he’d done. They didn’t yell at him. In fact, they said that they were proud that he’d done the right thing in the end.
As he knelt beside his bed that night, Nathan didn’t have any trouble telling Heavenly Father what was in his heart.