Untotaled: Stepping 41 (July 14th, 1967) Needing Change… November 22, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

It had never happened before.

There was going to be a carnival set up at the Westerville Shopping Center, right across the street from Redman’s Hardware.

Even though that in itself was cool, even cooler was that this cavalcade of amusements was advertising unlimited rides and midway games for five dollars for the whole day.

It was great.

The only trouble was, Randy and I didn’t have five dollars apiece, so I was ready to do my usual small-town plan of giving up and spending my carnival time complaining about missing the parade.

Randy, on the other hand, had an idea.

He went down to our local phone booth, sitting on the north corner of the Town Commons, and stuffed a bunch of Kleenex into the change return, so that when people missed a call or had money coming back their way, it would get caught and would not return to them.

I thought it was the dumbest idea I’d ever heard.

I wasn’t so concerned that it was dishonest as that I didn’t think we would ever get ten dollars out of such an adventure, with the money coming out in increments of ten cents a throw.

But Rand did it anyway, and three days later, when he pulled out the Kleenex, we ended up with a haul of $10.75.

Apparently a very popular phone booth.

We could not have been more giddy. We went to the carnival and had a fabulous time, never once feeling guilty about how we acquired the funds.

No, for me it was four days later.

I was sitting in my mother and father’s loan company, and I peered out the window and saw there was a policeman inspecting the phone booth.

It scared the crap out of me.

I had to do something–not out of guilt over my misstep, but rather, because I didn’t want to go to Juvenile Hall, where I heard they only served partially cooked pot pies.

So when my parents weren’t looking, I snuck into the safe of the loan company and grabbed a roll of dimes. I quietly stepped over to the phone booth, trying to pretend like I was going to make a call, and as calmly as possible, stuffed that whole role of dimes back into the slot, one at a time, to do recompense for my sin.

Once again, it never occurred to me that I stole from my parents to cover my previous thievery.

It was nearly three weeks later, when my uncle gave me five dollars for school supplies, that my conscience finally showed up.

I determined to go to the bank, purchase a roll of dimes and slip them back into the safe, no one the wiser.

Unfortunately, my plan was foiled by the fact that my parents hung around all day long, never giving me the chance to do penance.

I decided to try again the next day, but on the way home I passed by the local five and dime, and they were advertising candy bars–six for 20 cents.

Well, the only 20 cents I had was in the roll of dimes, and I thought, what the hell? What difference would two dimes make?

The next day I forgot to return my dimes to the loan company, but I did stop off at the Dairy Queen to get a hot dog and a coke, which took another seven dimes.

Long story short, within a week I spent all the dimes I had planned to return.

I didn’t feel bad–I felt stupid.

I did make one determination, and that was to never steal from the phone booth again. And when Randy tempted me, I changed the subject and refrained from further iniquity.

From then on, I went on a personal journey in search of my own integrity.

It was ten years later, long after my dad had died.

I was visiting my mother at her home, and I walked up to her and gently placed a roll of dimes into her hand. She looked up at me, quizzically.

I patted her on the shoulder and said, “It’s a really, really long story…”

 

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Three Ways to Forgive… November 20, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Nothing invokes more teary-eyed sessions and popcorn psychology than the subject of forgiveness.

And it isn’t because we’re all trying to figure out how to forgive other people, but more because we realize how frail our efforts are and how much we need forgiveness ourselves.

The danger is the sappy logic that forces people to pretend they have forgiven while never experiencing the personal satisfaction of moving on.

Honestly, my friend, there are only three ways to forgive, and in this particular case, they are approached in order.

1. Look for your own personal responsibility.

Yes, very few things in life are the fault of one individual, but rather, a twisted spider web of confusing details which have to be untangled order to get to the truth.

This is the power of the warning to “take the log out of our own eye” before removing the “speck of sawdust” from someone else’s peeper.

Of course, there are times when there is no fault on our part, but more often than not, we will discover a seed we planted which unfortunately grew into a root of bitterness. You will find that it is much easier to negotiate with an enemy when you’re willing to be honest about your own part in the mess.

Once you’ve achieved this step, you’re ready for:

2. Look for repentance.

The key to forgiveness is that those who have offended you feel a sense of regret.

I think it is a great lie to tell people they can forgive others who have not admitted their fault. It’s popular to act as if forgiveness can be a one-sided event when others have not joined in the contrition. But if you want forgiveness to work in real life, you need to see repentance in those who have wronged you.

And what happens if you don’t see that repentance? In other words, you have found your own personal responsibility, but those who have attacked you are not convinced of their evil, and refuse to repent? Then:

3. Look to create distance.

It is ludicrous to think that you can exist, prosper and be in good health while remaining around individuals who have hurt you but feel no compulsion to make recompense.

It is important to forget–but virtually impossible to do so if you don’t put those old things behind you.

Look to create distance. You can’t see the face of your abuser every single day and believe that forgiveness has any reality in your being.

Now I know there are people who will disagree with me on these issues, but I do believe that those people are offering a spiritual act of forgiving which has no reality in the human experience.

I don’t forgive people in order to be magnanimous. I forgive people because I need to get the hell out of the mess. If they won’t let me move on, then I need to move away from them–sometimes literally.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool, but even God took on the responsibility of creating humans as emotionally frail creatures. Therefore He looks for repentance, but when it’s not there, He draws away. This is made clear–God only comes close to those who come close to Him.

So if God has discovered the true essence of forgiveness, why don’t we take the step?

Look at what we’ve done, look for repentance, and if it doesn’t come, look for a door to sanity.

 

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

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