I think most of us easily fall into a victim mindset. It sounds yucky but it’s actually pretty normal. Someone breaks into my car and my first thought is “why me?” “Why does this bad stuff have to happen to me?” “Why are people like this?”
These were the exact words that came out of my 14 year old daughter’s mouth last Friday when our car WAS broken into. We had just finished a lovely two hour museum trip and were high on fine art and textile. We arrived back at the parking garage to find our tiny red rental car, amidst hundreds of other cars, with a smashed back window and glass all around.
It did feel kind of personal.
I had that immediate sense of violation – and almost broke into instantaneous tears. Then I realized I had work to do to report the incident correctly and still get to the airport on time and I decided to pull myself together. As I said to Naomi, it’s fine to feel upset about this, it IS upsetting. But this guy doesn’t get to steal our beautiful day from us. He doesn’t get to steal our joy. He doesn’t get to steal our peace. He took our suitcase but that’s all he’s getting. That and a little of our precious time.
You see (and as obvious as this probably is I still feel the need to say it) we don’t get to choose what happens to us but we DO get to choose our response. And as silly and trivial and cliche as that sounds it is the key, the SUPER-key, to peace and joy. Because heaven is not worried about my lost suitcase. Heaven sees me, heaven sees the thief, desperate for a high or some cash, and heaven sees my future, glimmering with hope before me.
When our computer was stolen a year ago we were given limited insurance money to help pay for it’s replacement. After our $1000 deductible the money left wasn’t enough to buy a new computer so we put that money in savings and hobbled along with our second, even older computer. It wasn’t so bad. Then, nine months late when the computer was returned, full of porn, we cleaned it out and rejoiced at having our computer back. Now we had insurance money AND a computer and the insurance company said to keep both. Months later, a few days before the computer was stolen the second time we received a notification from the District Attorney’s office that the thief was going to begin paying us $50/month in restitution until $1000 was paid – imagine that: our computer back, insurance money AND restitution money. I almost thought it was too much but I heard God say that what you lost will be repaid three times. I hardly dared believe it.
Later that day I found a penny behind my car and thought about just walking by, who wants to kneel to pick up a penny? (Except EVERY five year old!) Instead I remembered all I am learning about stewardship and I leaned down to pick it up because of the principle of the thing. And that was when I saw two more pennies on the other side of the car and again I heard “three times what you have lost”. If this seems like mysticism to you it’s probably because it is. I’m okay with that.
Two days later, my computer is stolen. This seems like a step backward not the “3 times repayment” word I heard from God, right? But the beauty of faith is that it gives us perspective when we can’t see. Some people call it “blind” faith but I call it “supernatural sight’ faith. Faith allows us to change our mind. Faith gives us the strength to remain powerful when difficult things are happening to us. Faith allows us to realize that we are not victims. Faith helps us to change our minds.
I lost more than my computer in that suitcase. I lost almost all my clothes. As a bare-bones-post-African-life-minimalist I have a few favorites that I wear consistently. All of them were in that suitcase. My one beautiful evening dress, all my underwear, my special hoodie, all my jeans and shirts. That loss STUNG. All my STUFF. And when I was feeling that, just feeling it, I heard God say ” I think we can do better than that for you. Those were some pretty worn out, beat up, sorry clothes and I think we can find you a better wardrobe than that. Maybe I am just paving the way for more for you.”
Two days later I receive a box. Delivered to me by someone who saw a vision three days before that she was to prepare clothing for someone in her size. She heard specifically about what kind of clothing. Turns out it is exactly the kind of clothing I love. Do you know how rare that it is? I am one picky clothing girl. That’s why losing my favorites was so hard. But I got a big box, a full box of clothing in my size, in my style, better than I had before, at least three times as much as I lost. And I stood crying in my bedroom, trying on the coolest pink edgy blazer. And so thankful that I had never lost my joy because what He had for me was so much better than what I lost.
So this post is is to encourage us to change our minds. To face every day, every trial with faith eyes that see hope glimmering around every broken, marred, scratched corner. I’m not promising us all happy endings. After all I still have no computer. But I’m promising that living as a victor is so much better than living as a victim – no matter what happens.
This is the story of 1 stolen and re-stolen computer, three pennies and the giant box of beautiful clothes that changed my life. If you want a glimpse of this miracle just say hi to me in person any time soon – I’m bound to be wearing some of those precious clothes.