How To Love a Thief

Package

For those of you that follow me on Instagram, you may have recently seen me post about a mail thief that came into my life a few weeks ago. Today I wanted to take the opportunity to share the story with you and the attitude transformation that occurred as a result. Since my husband and I moved to our new house in January, I have been purchasing a few things here and there — particularly for our master bedroom. Pieces have been trickling in from the mail, which is always fun… until two Saturdays ago when my Pine Cone Hill coverlet was stolen in broad daylight off our front porch.

Now let me tell you… these purchases were not made without careful consideration from my husband and I. We don’t have unlimited funds to spend on home decor. In fact, most of our furniture was either purchased on Craigslist or at a garage sale. So when my high-end, brand-new blanket was stolen, it didn’t just feel a little bad, it physically hurt.

My first reaction was sheer sadness. But after I was able to bounce out of that initial shock, I got sincerely angry. It was hard for me to even wrap my brain around the concept of someone walking up to our front door on a busy thoroughfare and lifting personal belongings from my property. I felt violated and I literally stewed on it the remainder of the weekend. Then, after researching some different tactics for getting revenge (I’m just being transparent here), saying a few prayers, and reflecting for awhile, I finally came to a place that helped carry me through the rest of the ordeal. Thankfully for my sanity, it was a place of peace and forgiveness.

So, I put a plan in place starting with a letter. Here’s what it said:

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Dear Porch-side Package Picker,

PLEASE READ!

Did you know that stealing and/or the opening of certified mail in which you were not the recipient is a federal offense? After committing the aforementioned theft of my personal packages for a second time in the course of a week, I was forced to hide cameras as a security precaution. Now, upon your third criminal act, I have footage as official proof. Rather than go straight to the police, I would like to give you the opportunity to return the items that you have taken. It is not my wish to retaliate towards you, but rather just to receive the blanket and facial products that I paid for. My husband works for a church and makes a modest living, so having these mindful purchases stolen is a serious loss for us.

Please know that we forgive you in whatever decision you make and have no judgement or hate against you. If you are, in fact, in need of the warmth that my blanket is providing you, please accept a sleeping bag from us as a trade-off. We will leave it next to the porch. We will give you until Saturday before pursuing law enforcement assistance.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:12-13

 

The letter was placed into a Target shipping box with a T-shirt that read “May He Empower You To Do Good” and a Life.Church invite card. I then headed to the post office and mailed it to myself to make the bait officially official. And finally, I waited on a stakeout as the mailman dropped off the package at my home.

\\ Stakeout Video //

As you may have guessed, my “security measures” were actually just me hiding in the backseat of my super-hot car with a camera. (good mental image, huh?) But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I really had no intention of ever turning this person in, even if I caught them in the act. I would say, while a goal remained getting my blanket returned to me, I moreso desired to see this person relate WITH me.

Unfortunately, I do not have a miraculous or extravagant outcome for you to read about. The package that I sent to myself was never taken and my letter never reached its recipient. There was no conflict resolution or intended life change. What DID take place, however, was personal growth. I learned that being quick to forgive is so vital to my emotional health. I also learned that being able to clearly describe my feelings towards that incident allowed me to physically let it go. And lastly, it forced me to put myself in the shoes of a thief, of whom I had no circumstantial knowledge. There is no point in holding grudges or playing the “you’re wrong, I’m right” card when situations are clearly out of your control. And although I never had the opportunity to show a loving hand to the offender, grace showed itself right where it needed to — in my heart.

There are 3 comments

By Shaila | February 15, 2017 at 2:36 pm

This is amazing. I needed to read this, and I only wish I’d read it a year–or even two–ago. Our last home was in a rural location, and the mailbox–along with our neighbors’ boxes–was about a mile away. Our packages always were delivered straight to our doorstep, but smaller mail was frequently stolen from the box. A few times I’d get opened mail (like birthday cards) that the thief had determined was not worth stealing because it didn’t possess anything valuable. But, more often, the mail would just disappear. Even a few bills never made it to us. A year ago, when we were expecting our first child, many people sent us cards with gift cards, and my well-meaning mother-in-law even mailed us $100 cash (even though she knew we’d had problems with our mail being stolen). As a coach and part-time teacher, we don’t make much money, so these gifts were going to be very helpful for us in providing for our growing family. It was all stolen. I tried telling myself that hopefully it went to someone who needed more than we did, but that didn’t help the fact that WE needed it. I wish I’d read your story before all that and before we moved away from that house. Your grace in the situation is inspiring.

By Alice Decker | February 15, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Thank you so much for sharing Shaila! It is SO hard to not get upset in those times when you feel like you are being personally victimized. It’s like, if they just knew that we were not so different from them, maybe they would think twice. Because none of us are perfect. We just have to try and find the good in even the worst situations and learn to give the rest to God.

By Carol | February 16, 2017 at 11:31 am

Awesome message. Turning a discouraging, upsetting event into one of hope. I wished he/she had come back for your package (of grace and christian love),,,, who knows how it might have affected this person for the better but nevertheless the situation did reap lasting positive results for you and your readers!

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