“Mom, why do people take what isn’t theirs?!”, my daughter, who was hurt and feeling disbelief at being robbed, begged me to explain. She continued, “I worked hard to get that phone, and now someone has taken it away. I don’t understand why someone thinks they have to right to steal my stuff!”
Last Monday evening, during both my daughters’ volleyball game, one of their cell phones was stolen. For both my daughters, this was their first experience with the theft and the blatant dishonesty of others. How could I give a good answer to her questions that would make sense out of it all? How could I help her understand that we live in a world that doesn’t always respect the hard work of others? How could I explain that a segment of society believes, “If I want it, I’ll just take it”? And how could I settle my own gnawing disappointment in knowing that bit-by-bit, my daughters’ innocence is being chipped away?
My husband and I had our girls wait until the ripe old age of 12 before they were given the privilege of having the luxury of owning cell phones. They each saved their birthday money and hard-earned report card earnings until they had enough savings to purchase the phones they’d been planning and waiting patiently for. We agreed to purchase the monthly service as their reward for earning awesome grades (all A’s!) and having great behavior. The phones were definitely earned by both hard-working girls!
Work. As parents, we have modeled the value of work, and they have seen us work for what we have. They know that to have something means to work and earn it.
Yes, they earned the phones. Now someone else has robbed them of their earnings, and we feel violated. Yes, the phone is just a material thing, just a belonging. But, it’s OUR material thing, OUR belonging.
We’ve already replaced the phone with another. Unfortunately, the “new” phone isn’t really new. It’s one of our old phones and not the nice touch-screen that she worked so hard to buy. Our daughter has accepted the circumstance, and is moving on, but the sting is still there.
I feel saddened that my daughters experienced this crime. (Yes, it is a crime.) But, since I believe that God has a purpose in everything, I’m grateful for the unfortunate lesson they learned, but saddened to be reminded that we live in a world where these types of lessons are necessary.
My girls learned that in this world, there are those who work and those who take. They learned that material belongings are temporary. They learned that they will have to be wary as they go through life, for while there are many who are good; there are many who are not good.
Finally, they learned what it feels like to be victimized. Fortunately, this knowledge will lead them to have compassion for others who are also dealt with the negative circumstance of being victimized in some way.
It is true that character and virtue are developed through trials. It is true that to everything there is a purpose. And as hard as it is sometimes, we give thanks for everything.