My Purse Was Stolen! Here’s my response.

On a day where my world was spinning especially fast, with way too much to do and not enough time and energy to do it all, I was handed one more challenge. My daughter needed some things for camp, including a new swimsuit. I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of swimsuit shopping for myself, let alone my 11 year old daughter! So we trudged to the supercenter to check every box on the list.

Toiletries X
Bug Repellent X
Flip Flops X
Swimming Suit ___

We perused the selections, and they were terrible. No one-pieces that didn’t have cutouts in inappropriate places for church camp. Not many tankini options, either. We grabbed a few of the more conservative ones and headed for the dressing room. I sent my daughter in to try things on, staying out with the cart and exchanging texts with my husband about groceries that I could pick up while we were out and about.

My daughter called me into the dressing room and I helped her adjust a few things before saying, “I need to go back out to the cart, my purse is out there.” She tried on the last suit and it miraculously was everything it needed to be, Praise Jesus! When I came back from that check-in with her, I looked at my cart. It was one of those little half carts that I love so much to push around and pretend they will keep me from buying things I don’t need.

There was an empty spot where my purse had been.

I hate to admit that even though I knew exactly where it had been and there really aren’t many places in those tiny carts for a purse to hide, and even though there were a total of 6 items in the cart to begin with, I walked completely around the cart and looked it all over before accepting the reality that it was truly gone.

“My purse is gone.” I said it to the lady monitoring the dressing rooms. She just looked at me with a blank expression. I repeated myself at least three times before she called the security guard to come and assist me. I couldn’t believe that I had just said to my daughter that I needed to stay with my purse!

I had my phone in my hand. Everything else was in my purse. I could not pay for the things in my cart. I could not drive my car home–the keys were in my purse. I have a major trip coming up and now I had no car key, no wallet, no driver’s license, no credit cards, nothing! I began to feel the adrenaline rush through my body as I tried with a shaky voice to tell the security guard where I had been in the store and my suspicion that it had been grabbed when I was standing 3 feet away at the dressing room door.

He went to check the areas I had visited to see if my purse had been accidentally left behind.

Can I say that those little carts have no easy way for a small purse to fall out of them? There are no annoying baby leg holes. The sides of the top part of the cart are high. This was not an accident. My purse had been lifted.

My initial response to this situation was anything but charitable. I did not think good thoughts about the person who did this. I immediately jumped to the worst case scenario. I left my daughter at the dressing rooms to run out and make sure my car was still in the parking lot. When I came back in, they had called my name to the service desk.

The lady at the service desk smiled and said that a helpful young man had just turned in my purse that he had found in the lady’s department. I unzipped the main and inner pockets, all my cash was gone. I don’t usually have cash, but I just came back from one trip and was preparing for another. Still, only $75 give or take a few, it wasn’t a major loss.

I cried anyway. I filed a police report anyway. I left shaking anyway.

It wasn’t about the money. If someone had asked, presenting me with a need, I would have given them the cash. $75 is a loss, but it won’t break our budget. There have been times when it would have been devastating.

But this came on a day when I had to prepare to leave town, get my daughter packed for camp that she would leave to attend before I return, get all my ducks in a row for scholarships to seminary, turn down one offer of acceptance and accept another offer to attend an MDiv program, get a sermon started for Sunday, and set my kids in a routine for the summer that will balance their need for activity and my need to work. I am sure there are other things on my list, but for the life of me this adrenaline will not let me think straight!

I’m grateful they returned the purse. I’m grateful that I didn’t have my entire paycheck in cash in an envelope. I am grateful that my husband could come to my rescue to pay for the things I had gathered and his insistence on taking some of the things on my plate for his own. I am grateful to have my car. I am grateful that I will still be able to go on this trip for work. There are so many things that could be worse right now!

If I ever meet the person who took my purse, wrecked an hour of my life, and stole my travel money; I would want them to know that they are worth more than lifting cash out of other people’s wallets. I would want them to know that there are so many better ways to use their cleverness. I would want them to know that I forgive them.

Not because I am a super-human mercy machine, but because I believe that it is the path to healing for myself and a potential path to restoration for them.

Having such a clear opportunity to practice what I preach,
(Someday I’ll find it) ReFreshing

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39 & Counting

On the occasion of my thirty-ninth birthday I am pausing to take inventory of the life I hold so dear. Thirty-nine is a year that teeters on the balance. Not-yet-forty. Definitely almost twenty years away from twenty. I find myself on this day so full of gratitude and sorrow, joy and pain, anxiety and hope for the future.

I could arrange this post as a list:
1- the man I love and with whom I will soon celebrate 20 years of marriage.
2- my parents, still living. Divorced but cordial.
2b- my siblings, who along with their spouses and children fill up my heart.
3- the children grown and birthed from my womb, lights in my life.
4- more months until I begin seminary.
5- months since my first book was published.

Numbers can paint a picture real enough to touch, but they can also be played to show only the side I wish to display. I could list the 15 years I’ve spent in ministry, or the 11 years at my current church, yet lack the numbers to quantify the pain that comes when ministry wounds. I mentioned above my 3 beautiful children, but leave unmentioned the 3 pregnancies that did not last. We tend to tout our accomplishments and find space under the proverbial rug for the rest.

Taking inventory is more than numbers to me as I grieve the loss of so many over the years. People I love whose faces I see and laughter I can still hear, whose embrace my arms recall. Nineteen connected to the church I serve now. I’d rather talk about the 5 couples I’ve walked with into marriage, and that joy was very strong. The empty seats in emptying pews, though, make themselves known far more often.

I wish sometimes life was only the roses. I would love to dwell on the 8 families I have served as they brought new life into the world. That or maybe the 100 poems I have written in the past two years. Better yet, the 550+ sermons I’ve delivered, or the 1 that won a national prize.

I am immensely thankful for the life I have been given. I celebrate the gift of people who shine their lights brightly into my dark nights. I grieve the losses, I do not run from the pain. Thirty-nine years have taught me that to mourn is to acknowledge the value of what was lost. In that way, each tear becomes a treasure.

This post is getting rambly, and I should wrap it up by saying that I have hope for the future, years I hope to live to their fullest. I anticipate new adventures. I long for days of rest (never too early to think about retirement). Mostly, I hope that in all the years I have before me that I can continue to pour out grace on those who most need to be blessed.

Taking stock of life.
ReFreshing