The Giraffe Lesson


(Based on an experience from the author’s life)
By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them (D&C 58:43).

“Quick! His back is turned!” Paisley said, looking at the sales clerk. Ann swiftly reached up and grabbed the small stuffed giraffe from the shelf. The giraffe would look so cool with the rest of her animals. She almost had a complete set.

“Got it,” Ann whispered as she stuffed the soft object into her jacket pocket. “Let’s go.”

The two girls strolled past the clerk, out of the toy store, and into the mall to meet Paisley’s mother. Ann had a funny feeling in her stomach. She couldn’t help looking over her shoulder to see if anyone was watching. She kept one hand in her pocket, curled around the animal.

“You know,” Paisley said, holding up a small stuffed kangaroo, “we wouldn’t have to steal these if they didn’t cost so much money!”

When Ann got home, she ran upstairs to her room. She was excited to put the giraffe with her other animals. She took the miniature animals lovingly off the shelf—the horse was the first one she had bought, then the camel. She had been able to buy the dog, elephant, lion, and bear with money she earned from her summer job of weeding the garden.

Her mother opened the bedroom door. “Ann, the bishop called. He would like to interview you next week for your baptism.”

Ann’s face went white. She knew that after she was baptized, she would be accountable for her actions and would have to repent of her sins. Would Heavenly Father forgive her for stealing the giraffe?

Mom noticed the nervous look on Ann’s face. “Oh, honey, don’t be scared. Your dad and I will be there with you. The bishop just needs to make sure that you want to be baptized.”

“I know, Mom,” Ann replied. She was glad that Mom didn’t know about the giraffe.

“Can you play today?” Paisley asked Ann as the two girls walked to school the next morning.

“I … uh … I don’t know,” Ann said. “I tried playing with my animals last night, but it wasn’t any fun. Do you think it might be because I stole the giraffe?”

“Maybe.” Paisley looked down at the sidewalk. “I couldn’t play with my kangaroo, either. We shouldn’t have taken those animals yesterday.”

Ann was quiet all morning. She tried to concentrate on the math lesson, but it was hard because she was trying to block out the awful way she felt inside. She was relieved when the recess bell rang.

“I don’t feel like swinging today,” Ann said to Paisley as she walked out the door, bundling her coat around her.

“Could your mom take us back to the mall after school?” Paisley asked. “Then we could return the animals. I don’t want to play with my kangaroo anymore. I would feel better if I took it back.”

“Me, too. I’ll ask my mom when I get home,” Ann said.

That afternoon, Ann took a deep breath as she opened the door of her house. Tears filled her eyes as she thought how disappointed her mom and dad would be. She walked into the kitchen.

“Hi, honey. How was your day?” Mom said.

“OK.” Ann looked down at her feet. “Mom, I have to tell you something. When I went to the mall with Paisley, we took some stuffed animals from the toy store without paying for them.” Mom listened as Ann told her how sorry she was.

“I’m very disappointed in you, Ann. You know that stealing is wrong. What do you think you should do now?”

“Paisley and I want to take the animals back. Could you drive us to the toy store?”

“Of course.” Mom hugged her. “I’m glad you’ve decided to do the right thing.”

Mom and Ann picked up Paisley at her house and drove to the mall. Then Mom walked with them to the toy store.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come in with you?” Mom asked.

“No, Mom,” Ann answered firmly. “We need to do this by ourselves.”

The girls walked quickly into the store and up to the counter. Placing the animals on the counter, they explained to the clerk that they had taken the stuffed animals without paying for them, and that they were very sorry.

The clerk glared at them. “I’ll have to report this to the owner,” he said. “I’m not sure what he’ll do.” The girls gave the clerk their names and telephone numbers and left the store.

“I’ll never steal another thing as long as I live,” Ann declared as she and Paisley rode home in the car.

“Me neither,” Paisley said. “And even if the owner is mad and won’t forgive us, at least Heavenly Father will.”

The following week Ann had her interview with the bishop. She explained to him what she had done and how she had tried to make it right—and how she had promised Heavenly Father that she would never steal anything again. She and the bishop talked about repentance, and how Ann had completed the steps.

The bishop said, “When you steal something, you can never fully enjoy it because you got it dishonestly. I’m glad you learned from your mistake, Ann. You are truly ready to be baptized now.”

[Don’t Steal]

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“You cannot afford to … shoplift or steal or do anything of the kind.” President Gordon B. Hinckley, “‘A Chosen Generation,’” Ensign, May 1992, 71.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Meredith Johnson

Julie Gubler is a member of the Santa Clara First Ward, Santa Clara Utah Stake.