and ramblings on everything in between
Up until a few weeks ago, I carried the same yellow purse for almost four years. Normally bags come and go over the months, but that one never left. Partly because I’m cheap and partly because I never fell out of love with it. It went with me from Massachusetts to Maine, from Illinois to Missouri, and countless trips in between. I had been thinking it was time to upgrade to a new bag, but I wasn’t quite ready. However, late one evening in January a man came running around the side of a building yelling, “GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!” In the matter of five seconds, the decision on when to get a new purse was made for me. For four years, that beloved bag was by my side carrying my treasures. I watched as that stranger ran off with it around the corner and then it was gone forever.
A purse is such an intimate item. It is with you every single day. You wear your favorite jeans maybe once a week, but your bag is carried in and out of your house, your car, your office, your life day after day. Thank goodness the man only wanted the bag and didn’t drag me down the street with it. But in the days after the mugging, each time I thought about that cute yellow bag and the things that were inside it, my heart sank a little. It grieved me to think that a mean, horrible, awful man ransacked the bag for what he felt was valuable and then chucked the rest into a dumpster.
The value he found in it was an iPhone 4S, $110 in cash (don’t forget I follow the Dave Ramsey system of paying cash for everything), and a gas card that was given to me by a friend for babysitting her daughter. The funny thing is, part of the cash in the purse was set aside to buy a new purse. Irony, I tell you. I felt like Harold Crick in the movie Stranger than Fiction trying to determine if I was in a comedy or a tragedy.
Of all the items I lost in the bag that night, what I miss most is my little green and brown Bible. When I started getting serious about my faith a few years ago, I purchased the small Bible so I could easily tote it around in my purse so it was always with me. It was the first Bible I took notes in and had all my favorite verses highlighted in. It was the Bible I spent countless hours reading and holding in my hands while I prayed for others. There was a sheet of “God is Love” stickers stashed in the pages. I used to hand them out to the 1-year-olds I help with on Sunday mornings. I miss that Bible.
In the hours and days after the incident, I found myself praying for where that Bible would end up. While it was hard to lose it, I wondered if all those years I wasn’t taking notes for myself but for someone else who needed them more than me. I prayed for the man, also. I don’t remember feeling anger towards him at first. Fear? Yes. There was plenty of fear. I don’t even recall praying that he would be caught. This honestly wasn’t a concern of mine, which seems bizarre thinking about it now. I was mainly worried about him. I figured he must be in a pretty desperate place to rob someone on a street corner, and I prayed that somehow, someway God would help him to turn his life around. I prayed he would have a better life. God tells us in Matthew 5:44,
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (NKJV)
So I prayed for him.
My belongings were never found. As far as I know, the man was never caught. I initially feared what the man would do in the days following the incident. He had all my information, full access to my phone. Would be come back for me? Would he break into my house in the middle of the night? It took awhile before I could be alone again. I didn’t want to go out at night. I kept going over and over the situation in my head.
Part of my healing process came in small group a few weeks afterwards. A man shared Job 2:10 and it helped me to process what had happened.
“Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” (NLT)
God certainly doesn’t want this for us. He grieves with us, possibly more than us, in our time of need. Through it all, the good and the bad, we have to remember that He is there. And His presence is enough.
If you happen to come across an abandoned yellow purse one day, will you take a moment to see if a green and brown Bible is inside it? And if it happens to be there, will you give one of the “God is Love” stickers to the first toddler you see? And then can you make sure the Bible makes its way into a set of hands that really need it? I would appreciate it.