Since this Saturday, someone else is reading my journal. Or more likely they have thrown it in the dumpster. Someone else knows about the surprise party we held for our friend Dave on his 49th birthday and when we adopted our new rescue dog. They saw the photos of our boys as they clamored to find the ipod shuffle and the 48 cents I had in my change purse. They ate Taco Bell they purchased with my friend’s American Express card and tossed my favorite bible in the trash. They didn’t know how a hat a friend made me for Christmas meant so much or that I knew where each and every item came from, the artisan who made them, and had thoughtfully considered every purchase. They didn’t know me, but I am praying for them.
Thirteen years ago I was mugged on the Chicago Subway. I always joke that I deserved it that day because I was dressed like a farmer. No reason for the costume at all. City girl dressed in overalls and a huge straw hat. I lived on the South Side and it was late, maybe 1 or 2am. The Harrison station was always closed then and so my friend and I were traveling past it to the Roosevelt station, but when we made the stop prior at Balbo the doors wouldn’t open. At that time the conductors were still on the train, announcing the stations and manually opening the doors. I suppose the CTA employee must have been in on the whole thing. My friend and I didn’t see it though. We were on a sort of spiritual high that made us giddy. It was the first time we had shared our testimonies publicly. She was several months pregnant and single and I was soon to be married and we had both come through a few pretty tough years. We both felt that the Lord had blessed us greatly and were very thankful to share our struggles with others.
When the doors of our train car wouldn’t open the couple trying to get out of the subway asked for help. We rushed over to them, happy to give assistance. By the time we helped them pry open the doors they had taken our personal possessions out of our backpacks. We were students and we kept everything in there. I had the first bible I had ever purchased with me. It was in a case that my mom had given me as a birthday gift. It was one of those thoughtful presents that meant she was trying to understand me. It was really important to me. Inside were all my forms of identification and some cash and checks too. That day, the people who mugged me also started to use my name to commit crimes. Although I changed my name a few months later when I was married, they had literally stolen my name. I was forced to return to my mother’s maiden name, my legal one, and one I had never used. As a child, I had always taken on the name of whomever my mother was married to at the time.
This weekend when I came back from hiking, I was very excited to see the car. We had been hiking over four miles with 6 children and 5 adults of all different ages. We all felt like we had accomplished something however small or large to someone else. In the mountains that day, we felt strong and proud. We had felt victorious. We were soon deflated.
We could understand wanting the purses. We had hoped as we dug in the gas station dumpsters and the Taco Bell garbage cans we might have recovered some of the stuff: that they would have left our personal items and just taken the few valuables and credit cards. We were disheartened to find nothing and confused at why they stole a bag of bell peppers and agave nectar and beans.
It has been frustrating to replace government issued items and worry about identity theft. More often than I would like I reconsider all the things we could have done differently. If we had known they would have busted open the trunk, I would have taken the cell phone which was borrowed from my pastor.
I had worked very hard swapping and trading and gifting and purchasing the specialty items in that bag. The ipod a gift for my husband: the only extravagant thing I had ever bought him and practical nonetheless since he is a marathon runner. The lotion was specially made in a chocolate amber scent in a co-op. I had made 50 dollars worth of playfood in exchange for the fingerless gloves. The journal and planner contained notes of all the cool things God has revealed to me in personal times of prayer or at conferences and classes. The hat was the first Christmas gift I had exchanged with a friend in years; she had made it to match my green eye shadow without even knowing it.
My husband told me that they couldn’t steal my joy. He is right. I can give that to them if I choose. I am deliberately responding with what I can do rather than reacting to what I cannot change. I keep crying though. I really feel violated. I keep reasoning with myself that it is just stuff. Logically I know things could have been much worse. I find praying for the people who stole from me easy. If they are touched by the Lord in some way it will all be worth it. I am just wishing the healing would be faster.