God Spoke to Me While Shopping at Target, and I Didn't Listen


There they were.

Tucked away in the clothing section was a pair of suede, navy blue, yellow-laced boots, size 12.

My son was IN LOVE.

We were on our weekly “I’m-losing-my-mind-so-let’s-go-to-Target!” trip, and these hipster-looking boots caught his attention. There was no turning back.

“PLEEEEEEEASE?!?!?! Mom, I want them so bad for school!!”

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I was shocked! He picked a pair of shoes I adored — very stylish for a little boy. This was a win in my book! The only problem was that I hadn’t budgeted this paycheck to include school supply shopping.

… But these boots were perfect.

… And there were only two “Size 12” pairs left.

… And that sweet little face, eagerly awaiting a “yes” from me.

Beautiful woman and her cute little son are touching their noses and smiling, on gray background
Shutterstock / By VGstockstudio

I hate being responsible sometimes.

“Honey, I don’t know. We don’t have money for that at the moment, but I will think about it.”

I was *kinda* determined to not be conquered by my desire to purchase the new shoes.

Until we turned the corner and he found the coolest backpack, ever. Seriously. I had been trying to persuade him away from the plastic, Pokemon-covered bags for weeks (the struggle is REAL!) and here he was singing the praises of a boho-print, brown-leather-detailed backpack for a kid much older than he.

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Had I crossed into an alternate universe? First the shoes, now this?

He knows he is only six, right?

It was then I felt that still small voice in my heart say, “Be faithful to what I have called you to do with your money. This is not a purchase you ‘have’ to make. Honor me with your finances.”

… But that voice was sooo incredibly small, almost minuscule, and my son’s face so incredibly adorable and RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

I chose to ignore that little voice and buy the desire of my son’s heart (and really, what was $50 on a credit card? I would pay it back in a week on payday!)

The minute I walked out of that store, I knew I had chosen wrong.

My son, on the other hand, was singing my praises all the way to the car. He was hugging his backpack like a new puppy, all smiles and sweet things to say.

I was a hot mess on the inside.

I thought I would push that gnawing conviction down and continue on my way. What I found, instead, was a disconnect between myself and God. That stinkin’ backpack came up every time I prayed! It came to my mind constantly. It interrupted everything. I needed to do something about it.

I was going to return the backpack and shoes.

Not for any reason other than to make things right with God again. You may say, “But it’s just a backpack! What’s the big deal?” I thought so, too, but God taught me a bigger truth:

Obedience is doing the right thing, even when it is the smallest thing.

It wasn’t the purchase that was bad. It was that I heard the voice of God ask me to honor Him with my finances and I refused. Now my son would be affected by my poor choice.

“Isn’t there another way? Why must I hurt his little heart? Why is this such a big deal?!”

Woman praying with hands folded to God.
Shutterstock / By Kjetil Kolbjornsrud

God made it perfectly clear:

Because I had chosen my son’s happiness over my obedience to Him.

I dreaded facing my son for three days. I couldn’t pull the trigger. I just knew this would crush him.

Sunday came and he snuck his tiny, tired body into my room and snuggled close for some early morning cuddles, and I felt God prompt me at that moment to talk to him.

Deep breath. Here goes nothing …

“Hey bud, I need to talk to you about something that might make you sad. Do you remember when we were shopping at Target and you really wanted those boots and backpack? Remember how I told you we didn’t have the money to spend on them, but I bought them anyway? Well, I prayed about it and God told me I shouldn’t have spent money I didn’t have. We are going to have to take them back to the store. But, when we get paid on Friday, the first thing we will do is go back and get them. I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to God the first time. But it is important that we do the things God wants us to do, even if they make us sad. Does that make sense?”

(Oh, that puffy, just-woke-up face! How would he react? I held my breath …)

He did a fake cry for a total of 5 seconds, then responded:

“Okay, Mom.”

… And gave me a hug.

That’s all?

I had been beating myself up, thinking over this intense decision for THREE DAYS, agonizing over breaking his heart, and he says, “Okay, Mom?”

God had prepared his heart because I was obedient to follow through in correcting my mistake.  It is amazing the lightness you feel after you give it to God and commit to being obedient to that still, small voice. I hope in the journey of my failures that my children will learn deeper lessons than they ever could in a classroom. I hope I am teaching him that happiness is choosing God’s best and NOT buying the things we cannot afford.

What are you choosing instead of God? What thing or habit are you keeping that is creating distance between you and God?

Erica Willis has been leading in the local church for over 20 years. Her first book, “Believe Boldly: The Power of Simple, Confident Prayer to Unleash the Supernatural” released at #1 in its category on Amazon and is available locally at any Barnes and Noble. Erica blogs at, and you can follow her at @BelieveBoldly on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

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