I bought a summer dress last week. Good color. Nice fit. Cute!!! I got it home and truth set in. If I sat down in that dress or walked in that dress (I exaggerate on this last bit.), it was going to wrinkle like a prune. If I hand washed it and that’s what I would need to do—ugh—I was going to have to iron it. (I’m sure the board and iron are somewhere.) “OK, get real,” I said to myself, “Buying error. I need to return it.”

The store clerk was lovely. “If it doesn’t work for you; it doesn’t work,” she said. “No problem. We’ll do up a refund.” (I’ll be shopping at that store again. Oh, yeah.)

The same day that I bought the dress, I also walked past one of those cosmetic kiosks. I must have been in a weakened state—maybe it was the piece of chocolate that I had just treated myself to and was munching on that brought on my vulnerability–because instead of walking passed with a polite, ‘No thank you,’ I stopped to listen. And I still can’t’ believe it; I got caught up in the spiel. The clerk was so nice, so friendly and such a good talker. I bought product.

When I got home, I really had buyer’s remorse over that one. But when I decided to take the dress back, I thought I’ll just take the product back at the same time. I have the receipt and it is unopened. No problem.

Yes, problem. It seems that on the end of the counter–where I spent no time at all–was a sign that said, “No Refunds.” The words were also–it was pointed out to me–on the receipt—in small, small print.

It seems that in life there are some things for which there are no returns, no refunds. When we read books or watch films, we take images and ideas into our minds. We can’t just erase them at will. We can’t return them if we don’t want them.

I started reading a novel awhile back. The writer’s sentences were gorgeous, beautiful. They delighted my tongue and my mind. Unfortunately that was also the problem because the deeper I got into the story the more I realized the writer had little respect for truth. She kept slyly re-interpreting the actions of a biblical person, putting her own ugly and then uglier spin on him and his behavior. It began to read like tabloid journalism. I quit reading the book.

But returning to truth was not so easy. For months afterwards her snide little innuendoes would crop up in my mind.  And I’m a grown-up with many years of Bible study and life experience. I have some filters. I can filter out some lies. I wasn’t up to this one though and it was God who finally restored and established His truth in me.

Kids have fewer filters and those filters are less developed. They have less experience going to God and asking for His help when they encounter something suspicious in their readings. The images and ideas may stay with them for a long, long time. They may even influence kids to take actions.  Parents and other caring adults are wise to pay attention to what their kids are reading and viewing. Refunds on ideas are hard to come by.

Nancy Ellen Hird

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