Folks familiar with this blog understand its purpose to promote thought awareness and the ability to change a manner of thinking, such as practicing to be Complaint Free. A recurring theme is forgiveness, releasing anger and resentment for your benefit. (No it's not letting the S.O.B. "off the hook!") From time to time I come upon a true story where a change of mind, attitude, proves beneficial. Here it is.
“I don’t recall hearing the lock click,” recalled Jennifer, probing into the previous evening. This morning, stepping outside to the driveway to take her daughter to school and herself to work, she was puzzled by the sight of two strange bicycles on the ground. Where her Chevy Traverse should be. But it wasn’t. The sinking feeling in her stomach was more than matched by the anger of the realization, my car’s been stolen! Inside the unlocked car was a spare car key.
It was a rude awakening, for sure, but one that led to a surprising ending. At least for Jennifer.
The theft was reported to the police and OnStar notified which then stopped the Traverse. As the car came to a halt a police cruiser pulled up behind. The cruiser’s video camera would later show four young men bailing out of the car and running off. Only the driver was apprehended. In the mean time Jennifer had all of the locks to their house changed since there might have been a spare house key in the car.
Jennifer got the call that her car had been recovered, perhaps just barely. It would take nearly $5,000 worth of body work to repair the multiple dents, scrapes, and gashing. All the contents of the car were taken including her daughter’s computer. In all, another $1,500. Most disturbing was the can of gasoline in the back of the car. It was likely that after the “joy ride” the perpetrators were planning to burn the vehicle.
Charged with the theft was the fifteen years old driver. The Juvenile authorities were taking this case to trial. This was unnerving for Jennifer – she would have to be in court. And, a few months later, she received a subpoena to do just that.
Looking around the courtroom that day, she noticed a woman, probably the driver’s mother and a few other people. Then a teenaged girl entered the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs. She was alone in the courtroom, no family, no one. Jennifer felt for her. Then the Judge ordered everyone not associated with her case to exit.
Back in the courtroom, the Judge asked Jennifer if she had given the teenager permission to drive her car. No.
Months later, Jennifer was present at a probation hearing for the driver. He would have to come up with $400 to reimburse Jennifer for his “share” of the loss. The mother approached Jennifer, “I’m sorry for what my son did.” Jennifer glared at the driver. He sheepishly stepped towards her, “I’m sorry for what I did.”
Once outside of the courtroom, in a move that surprised her, the driver stepped towards her with open arms. Jennifer stepped to the teen and hugged him, saying, “Stay out of trouble.” His mother look astonished, as did a deputy. Walking beside Jennifer as she left the courthouse, the deputy noted “That’s never happened before.”
“I hope it helps him,” she answered.
The car was repaired and the gasoline smell finally removed and Jennifer and her family continued their usual life. Later she received a letter from the court updating her on the driver’s effort to raise the $400.
“If he manages to pay me the $400, I’ll donate it to a charity that helps kids like him,” she told her daughter. The daughter was a bit taken with that approach, not finding in it a semblance of anger. The daughter was still angry – that was her computer!
“It happened,” Jennifer explained. “Being angry wouldn’t change the outcome and it would keep interfere with my resuming life. I’m forgiving him for my sake. If it helps him, then wonderful.”
It’s the little things, she later thought, that do add up and affect people.
Embracing the driver was an unexpected act of kindness and concern. And, quite possibly the only time the teen had ever received a hug. Regardless, because of that thought that went bump in the night, Jennifer did not permit anger and resentment to consume her.
Forgiveness – it’s not for the S.O.B., it’s for you.