Mooooooommmm!!!! We were robbed!
Andrew’s words were hurled at me as he ran up the from hill from the lake, and they stopped me dead in my tracks.
“What did you say?” Shocked by what he said and unable to ignore the tears running down his cheeks, I wanted to make sure I actually heard what I thought I heard.
“We. Were. Robbed.” He said through sobs and gasping breaths. “Someone broke into our shed, *gasp, and took ALL the fishing gear!”
I was about to blow Drew’s words off and lump them with all his other over-dramatic, exaggerated, and emotional outbursts. But before I could say anything, I saw Tyler coming up the hill.
He was angrier than I had ever seen him; shaking with the effort to contain the violence coursing through him.
He was too angry to cry. Too angry to shout. Too angry to say more than, “Someone broke into the shed. They took everything. All the fishing gear. All my fishing gear. All of dad’s fishing gear. Gone.”
It was true.
Overnight someone pulled the top of the door down to get around the locked door, rolled a log in front of the shed, crawled in through the hole, passed everything through it, and left.
Thousands of dollars worth of equipment, collected over several years—gone.
But more than just the poles, reels, and lures were stolen.
- It was gifts given by friends and family—some who are no longer with us.
- Countless birthday and Christmas gifts
- Treasures found in Easter baskets
- Mementos of special outings with his grandparents.
- It was memories
- Of big catches
- Of fishing trips to Cass Lake and the Boundary Waters
- Of the people, circumstances, and events attached to a pole or particular lure
- Of the thrill he got from saving his money to purchase his tackle box and some lures to fill it
The cold hard truth is, more than stuff was stolen. Stuff can be replaced. All the emotions and memories attached to those things can’t.
Fishing is the place where Tyler goes to be alone. To think. To enjoy nature. To just…be. It’s his passion and haven, and it was tainted.
To make it worse, the loves to share his equipment with friends who love to fish but don’t get the opportunity, and that was also ripped away from him.
Whoever stole his fishing gear also stole his joy, solitude, haven, and a significant avenue to bless others. And then this person left behind feelings of violation, trespass, anguish, and anger.
As a mom. I was…I still can’t put into words how I felt. All I know is there was a vast storm raging inside.
Murderous. Savage. Irate. Yeah, that’s probably close.
On the outside, I presented a calm, controlled front. I needed to be a rock for my son. It was important for me to guide him through this devastation. I knew the last thing he needed was me being out of control.
But inside. I was anything but calm. I was anything by in control.
After calling to police to make a report and alerting our neighbors of the break-in, I was at a loss. I had no idea what to do to release my anger.
I posted on Facebook:
Not many things make me angry.
Not many things infuriate me.
But when people steal things from my kids–it makes me IRATE!
Mama Bear is oh so NOT in a good mood!
Last night someone came and forced their way into our shed by the lake and stole all my son’s fishing equipment! Rods. Reels. Tackle–all of it gone! Thousands of dollars of equipment gone!
The police are involved and I pray this person (or these people) is caught.
I wasn’t sure if posting was the right thing to do. But I needed to let my anger out. I needed to find a place to let at least some of it go. And if you follow me on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you know I’m not one to post anything negative. I use those spaces to encourage. To lift people up. To liberally spread joy. To share what Jesus has done for me and what He can do for you. To help Christians and non-Christians like see the Vibrant Relevance of Scripture in their daily lives. I don’t use that space to complain. To whine. To hurt others. Besides, that’s just not who I am.
But after this theft, I was at a loss. My son was hurting—by no fault of his own. I was hurting for my son.
And I was boiling.
In these occasions I normally go for a long hard run, but I can’t anymore. (Read Unmasked to know why) I felt impotent and stuck because I couldn’t help him.
I wanted to scream, to spew my venom…but I couldn’t.
I couldn’t do anything.
So I cried.
And I prayed.
I tried to figure out how we could help Ty replace some of what was stolen so he could fish this summer.
And I posted.
I was hoping someone would know something and help us get his gear back. I was hoping someone saw something, heard something, knew who did it…anything. I didn’t know what else to do. I felt hopeless.
Many wonderful loving people sent their condolences. Expressed their own anger at the situation. Joined me in prayers. Offered comfort. I was thankful for all of it.
But one friend took it a step further.
My friend Tim responded to my post and texted me, offering the fishing gear he inherited from his brother and father-in-law. He has his own gear and wasn’t sure what he was going to do with theirs. “Now I do.” He said.
After I read his post I had tears of a different kind flowing down my face—I could barely read his text. He invited me to take Ty to his house the next day to choose what he wanted. He could have all of it or some of it. The choice was his. Even now, I’m struggling to see the screen to write this through my tears.
The kindness. The generosity. The grace. It overwhelmed me! And still does.
The best part was telling Tyler what Tim said. I pray I never forget the smile that lit his face. I wish I had my camera ready. He couldn’t believe someone would do that for him. Someone who didn’t even know him, had never met him. That he would offer his such a wonderful gift. Would sacrifice what he had to replace what was stolen.
And the next day, as I watched him go through the fishing gear, I could tell he was doing all he could not to breakdown. He couldn’t believe that Tim was not only offering him gear so he could fish this summer, but he was enabling him to take others fishing as well. That he would still be able to share his love and passion with his friends.
Did he get everything back? No. Not even close. But he got a good start of a new collection.
And somehow, I think these poles and lures are going to be more precious to him than any other pole or lure he will buy or receive in the future.
And you know what? This act of generosity—it dispelled the heat of my anger. My rage. My desire tear someone apart. Oh, I’m still upset someone stole Tyler’s stuff. But now I’m more sad and disappointed than angry.
A few days later, as I reflected on this whole experience, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’s words, “When you did it for them, you were doing for to me!”
This is something I’ve known most of my life. Something I think about from time-to-time. But this is the first time I’ve felt the implications of this truth in the core of who I am.
This was a deeply personal lesson on how God values our selfless acts of love and service to His kids. How he treasures them. How they affect Him personally because of His unfathomable love for us.
Friend, that ain’t no small thing!
When those thieves stole Ty’s fishing gear, it didn’t just affect him, it affected me too—if not more. Every instinct to protect, to retaliate was out there on full alert. But what Tim did affected me too. To see the gratitude and joy in my boy. To know the pain he was experiencing was real, but this act…it was beyond beautiful.
It made me think of the times I had the opportunity
- To share something or do something in Jesus name
- To display radical generosity out of the abundance He’s given me
- To offer grace
- To give a smile or a hug
- To offer a listening ear
- To introduce someone to Jesus
- To purchase a lunch or cup of coffee
–and blown it.
Oh, Jesus forgive me.
Then I asked Him to help me remember the times I did. Not because I wanted my ego stroked, but because for the past year I’ve been asking Him over and over if what I do is even making a difference, an impact. Does my heart and passion for God’s people and those who are lost even matter? Or am I fooling myself?
Before I knew it, memory after memory flashed across my mind. And in the week that followed, God opened my eyes to see the times I’d been faithful and the effects my faithfulness had on those around me. He did this through various messages (email, text, DMs, etc), visits from those I’ve mentored, even testimonies from people I would NEVER have expected—people who don’t even know or follow Jesus! He showed me how he used the gifts of my time, energy, words, love, and finances for His glory and the benefit of others.
I was so humbled and honored to have had those opportunities I was speechless. Several of those opportunities I didn’t even realize I was given because I was just being me. I didn’t realize what He was doing through them or me. How He was using me. As I sat there, overwhelmed by His blessings, I could hear His whisper, “What you did for them, you did for me. It matters! Don’t stop doing good.”
Friend, I’m convinced we will never know the full extent of how God uses us here on Earth, on this side of Heaven. And that’s a good thing. For me anyway. It protects me from pride and self-righteousness and a whole host of others sins. But those rare chances we get to catch a glimpse of how God is using us and our faithful surrender to Him—there are no words.
I didn’t completely get it before. But I get it now: How we treat His kids matters! Not just in an interpersonally. It also matters in our relationship with Jesus.
I doubt I will every forget what Tim did for Tyler. And I doubt Tyler will forget.
And you know what, God won’t forget either.
So follow Tim’s example. Go out and do good. Because it matters.
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