There was only one way for Aiden to be rid of his guilt.
Madison sat on the floor. Her collection of dolls with their dishes and furniture were close by, all set up for a party.
Suddenly, the door flew open. “Go get ‘em, Rags!” said her brother as he charged into the room with his dog. The dolls fell from their chairs as Aiden gleefully swept through the room with a stick. Rags added to the chaos when he took the largest baby doll in his mouth and shook it furiously.
By the time Mother came in answer to Madison’s screams, the party was a complete disaster. The dolls were scattered everywhere among broken dishes and furniture. Rags’ victim was missing an arm, and one leg was hanging limp.
“The worst part,” said Mom when telling Madison’s father about it that night, “was that Aiden wasn’t even sorry. He laughed when he saw how badly Madison felt . . . he said dolls were dumb, and that Madison didn’t need all those silly dishes anyway.”
When Aiden arrived at school the next day, he started bragging to a couple of his friends about the tricks he had taught Rags. They laughed with him, but when Aiden opened his locker, the laughter stopped. Someone had trashed everything in the locker. Books were torn, pictures were crushed, his mirror was shattered, and written on the locker door in red spray paint was the message, “Guess who?”
“Uh oh,” whispered Tyson, “I’m out of here.”
“Me too,” said Max.
As the boys hurried to their classrooms, Aiden yelled after them, “Hey, where are you going? Help me figure out who did this!” He was so angry that he slammed the locker door and headed straight for the office. “They’ll never get away with this,” he muttered to himself. “When I find out who did this . . .”
Aiden was still angry when he arrived home that afternoon. But as he stomped up the stairs to his room, he noticed something lying on one of the steps. It was a small arm from one of Madison’s dolls! He stopped to pick it up, and his thoughts went back to the day before. He could still see Madison’s frightened face, and hear her pleas, “Make him stop, Aiden. Make Rags stop!” Suddenly he felt very sorry for what he had done. Madison had been in her own room, not bothering anyone. She didn’t deserve to be treated like that.
Aiden walked to his room feeling sad. What’s the matter with me? he thought. He slumped to the floor beside his bed, disgusted with himself. As he did so, he found he was looking directly at the Bible he had carelessly thrown on his chair the Sunday before. He hesitantly reached for it. He hadn’t read his Bible in a long time. Dad and Mom were always saying it had the answers to important questions. Not knowing where to look, Aiden turned to a verse his dad had shown him recently, Isaiah 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts . . .”
He remembered how mad he had been when his dad showed him this verse. He had thought, I am not that bad. Now he sat looking at the Bible, not even seeing the words. Instead, his mind went back to the trouble he had gotten into during the past few months: throwing an egg at Mrs. Casper’s window; taking Mr. Hutchins’ wrench without asking, and blaming it on his friend; teaching Rags to knock down little kids, and then laughing when they cried.
That is what he had done yesterday to Madison: laughed when she had cried. Aiden felt awful. I wish I had never done those things, he thought. What could he do to make up for his wrongdoing? He could get a paper route and pay for the ruined toys; he could mow the lawn and empty the trash to help Mom; he could even be nice to Madison so that she would trust him again. But how could he get rid of the guilt for having been so mean? How could he get rid of this awful feeling inside?
He looked back down at the Bible and finished reading, “and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God for he will abundantly pardon.” He remembered now that his dad had said God would forgive those who were genuinely sorry for the wrong things they had done.
As he thought about how rotten he had been toward others, tears came to Aiden’s eyes. Then he prayed, “God, I’m so sorry for the way I’ve been acting. I don’t want to be like that anymore. Please come into my heart and make a change, so I can live for You from now on.”
As he finished praying, he felt as if his whole inside was being washed clean. He felt like a brand new person! Instead of being mad at everyone, he felt as though he could love everyone. He said, “Oh, thank You, God, for loving me and forgiving me.”
God loves you too.