I don’t like being the victim of a thief. It takes me a little time to work through my emotions and eventually reach forgiveness – even when we don’t know whom to forgive – thus one of the reasons there is a chapter entitled “The Thief” in Reflections. Writing “The Thief” brought me to a place where I could finally find peace with the incident. I suppose stealing is the end result of coveting what another person has, deceitfully taking with the intent of never returning. Why would a human being violate another in this way, especially someone close to you?
Another incident: I had a very special pair of earrings stolen my senior year in high school. They were a Christmas gift from a friend who was later killed in a car wreck just a few weeks before graduation. The week of the funeral, I had very good reason to believe a friend and fellow classmate took them. Although I was never able to prove it, I learned other friends had witnessed her stealing and had overlooked it. I was appalled and instead exposed her. I moved away shortly after graduation and eventually the sting diminished. At our ten-year reunion, I could tell she was uncomfortable; and before leaving town, I confronted her again – not to condemn but to forgive. I needed to do that, and she hugged me. Years later, my sister found a pair of similar earrings and bought them for me for my birthday – what a sensitive and thoughtful thing to do. Each time that I wear them, I remember the one who gave the original gift who is no longer with us, the one I forgave, and the one who replaced them. Memories – precious memories all around.
I have yet to experience any precious memories from the theft described in my book Reflections, but I still had to come to terms with the betrayal and forgive – forgive the unknown transgressor. This was difficult, and I didn’t really know how to do it. But somehow writing that chapter released me to forgive.
More recently, I’ve even found a little humor when I was violated in a similar way again. Perhaps I’m just getting old and more accustom to people’s shortcomings, understanding that I, too, stumble and fall. I was at a conference exhibiting Reflections. On my table, I displayed a couple copies of the book, business cards, bookmarks, and other PR material. On one end of the table, I displayed what I had donated in a gift sack as a door prize: an autographed hardbound copy of Reflections, a jar of my famous family-recipe apple butter, and a candle labeled “Reflections.” We were told the room would be locked overnight and it would be okay to leave everything set up. The next morning, I was getting settled in at my table and noticed the candle was not there. Immediately I checked the boxes behind the table to make sure my stock of books hadn’t grown legs. Oddly, nothing was missing but the candle – an inexpensive candle I purchased simply because of the name. I had to laugh. I turned to the exhibitor next to me and said: “I think I should be offended. Someone took my candle but left my pearls, my precious cargo – the books and the apple butter. Must not have been pearls to them.” 🙂 Oh well – what more can I say?
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 (NIV)