Sprung from Self-Made Prison

Instinct kicked in. My heart pounded hard inside my chest. I don’t know why I looked over my shoulder. I knew I was the only one in the room, but a natural need to check my left, right, and behind me overruled.

When I figured the monthly tax report, I caught my own mistake. I’d failed to meet the deadline, and the only one who knew was me.

Of course, I chose the biggest sales month of the year to mess up. And when I quickly tabulated, discovered this would mean a couple of thousand dollars in penalty and interest. Adrenalin rushed through my veins, my breathing jumped in short, oxygen-deprived spurts, and I began to feel light-headed.

A decision was necessary. The odds were strongly in my favor. I could simply mail the report, wait for the notice to come back to my attention, add the extra money into the next check I sent, and no one would be the wiser. Except…God and me.

Unfortunately, my employer was in a meeting off-site. I went home and let temptation wrestle with conscience, all night long, in a self-made prison of guilt.

When I arrived at work the next morning, my eyes were puffy, my hair wouldn’t cooperate, my makeup lumped in place, and the mirror reflected a woman as harried as I felt. I walked into my boss’s office and waited patiently for him to finish his phone call. When he hung up, he said, “Good morning, how are you?” He was kind enough not to mention my disheveled appearance.

My voice cracked a bit when I said, “I made a huge mistake, and need to confess.”

He sat up straighter in his chair. I definitely had his full attention.

My words tumbled out, like I was afraid if I didn’t hurry, they would all get stuck inside my mouth. “I messed up bad. I missed the sales tax deadline, and didn’t realize I mailed the report late last month.”

He chuckled, “Everyone does those things sometimes. I’m just glad to know you do too.”

“You don’t understand, of all times, I chose August, our biggest month of the year.”

I could tell he still didn’t get it, so I told him the estimated penalty/interest figure. Then he gulped — hard.

“Maybe they won’t notice.”

Now it was my turn to chuckle. “The government needs money as bad as everyone else. They’ll catch it. Besides, if I mess up, I have to fess up. What I can do is write a letter and beg abatement based on our history of timely reports. There’s no guarantee they’ll accept, but at least we’re no worse off for trying. If they deny us, I’ll pay you every penny that we’re charged.”

He agreed to the letter, and offered me undeserved mercy. “Don’t worry about it. Everyone makes mistakes, and I appreciate your courage in coming to tell me.”

When I walked out, I knew if it wasn’t for my relationship with Jesus Christ, I would have fallen prey to the temptation. My self-delusion may have done me in. But instead, I received the fulfillment of a biblical promise, “With confession comes mercy.”

Three weeks later, a certified letter arrived at the office for me. When I opened it, tears pooled in the corners of my eyes, “Because of your history with the Missouri Department of Revenue, ….”

Again, I received mercy. They abated every penny of the money we owed for my mistake. Instead of avoiding my employer, weighed down with a stone of guilt, I could freely run to him. We celebrated the blessing together. And we both learned a lesson. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Another Bible secret led to a surprising success. And I was sprung from my self-made prison.

Anita FreshFaith @ Work

Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

 Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri.

Contact her via www.freshstartfreshfaith.org or anita.freshfaith@gmail.com

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