How to Forgive a Thief

How to Forgive a Thief


As an unexpected follow-up to my post earlier this week, while I was chatting with an old friend at a coffeehouse in Victoria, my bike’s odometer – which I had forgotten to remove from my bike in the midst of hello-hug-greetings – was stolen.

(sidenote: Always in Victoria! I’ve had bike lights stolen three times, a helmet once, and now an odometer. Never lost anything in Vancouver or Kelowna – bigger crime capitals – oddly enough.)

Stone rubbing of an ancient Chinese Han Dynast...
Stone rubbing of an ancient Chinese Han Dynasty odometer horse cart (Wikipedia)

That moment when I realize something of mine has been stolen, sucks. No way around it. It frustrates and angers me. It makes me suspicious and mistrustful of the people immediately around me.

Fortunately, as I mentioned before, I have a coping mechanism in the way of tithing. I can’t get rid of the frustration so easily, but the last thing I want to do is compound these frustrations by adding the financial replacement cost of buying a NEW odometer. I also need to find a way to forgive the thief. So here’s what I’ll do.

Right now, due to my blessed time working the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival, I have in my budget an August tithing balance of -150.58$. That’s money strictly earmarked towards tithing actions – using the money for a good cause, for gifts, and the like.

First I need to decide upon a replacement cost. The odometer that I purchased cost about 25$, but that was due to a dramatic sale at a Zellers going out of business. I was unable to find a similar odometer at the Zellers here in Victoria, so I can’t expect that amount to cover a new odometer. So I’ll put my replacement cost at the amount for a similar odometer from MECC, which, including taxes, comes to about 45$.

So, emotionally, I offer my odometer as a gift, so I can get over the feeling of being a victim, and be willing to forgive. Financially, I subtract 45$ from my tithing budget, reducing it to -105.58$, and the only hassle for me is the act of going out and buying another odometer, and the time I am currently without one. It could even make sense to put a dollar figure to that time cost, if I found it overly frustrating.

All that said, every incident has its own personality. Today is particularly frustrating because they took the odometer, but not the sensors attached to the wheel… which means that rather than a homeless person taking a bike-light that can be used as a flashlight… today’s voleur has walked away with a piece of useless electronic junk. Which makes forgiveness harder. But without my tithing system it’d be so much worse.


Thanks for reading.

Andrew Wade

Why I Trust Strangers (and hope you do too!)

A Matter of Trust
Image via Wikipedia


I can honestly say that I spent much of my time at elementary school as a miserable coward. As I wandered alone, step by step, along the concrete dividers outside my school each recess and lunch, my mind raced with intimidating scenarios.

What if that boy decided to fight me? What if they swarmed me with insults and pushed me? What if they approached me, cracking their knuckles? What could I do?

I was constantly figuring out escape routes, deciding whether or not I could outrun them, or reach that teacher in time, or the classroom, or safety, somewhere, anywhere.

(It’s worth noting that I was never punched once. Did get shoved into a bush. Was bit once. But that one was my fault.)

If I was walking on my own, dark, light, day, night, whatever, I would imagine muggers emerging from every shadow, and I would continually run scenarios over and over in my head. That’s one reason why I bought an mp3 player: So I could have something else in my head as I went from point A to point B other than running through what would happen, were I attacked.

In every scenario I ran through, I either ran away… or more rarely imagined myself getting the piss beaten out of me.

Eventually, I came to realize that this wasn’t healthy. Certainly not a useful use of my time. But I that realization alone didn’t cut it out entirely. No. I thought the healthiest thing was to make sure that when I envisioned these… ruminations… that I would imagine myself ‘winning’ the encounter. With tact and compassion, I would employ myself like a master hostage negotiator and defuse the situation (okay, or sometimes with physical intimidation, grabbing the right weapon around me). Then they would give in, reform, and become a better person.


My poor baby.

But that wasn’t healthy either. And whenever someone stole something from me, or I lost something (which amounted to the same thing in my mind), I became angry. Spiteful. The loss of my poor M:TG Lightning Dragon really ate me up.

Then, BOOM! Moment of clarity. Shining, shimmering splendid! I realized how I could solve both of these problems – my constant scenario-making, and my anger. I had a choice to make.

I chose to trust strangers. And everyone else. To assume that they were good people. To assume that the man in the shadows would have a kind heart. To assume that no one would have stolen my hat – I must have left it somewhere, or someone must have taken it by mistake. An honest error, t’is all. Well, that’s alright. They can have it.

And if it really was stolen? They must need it more than I do.

This past December, I got in trouble with a lady’s parents when, at the end of a dinner spent at their place, I asked if she could show me the way to the bus stop. Because I didn’t know where it was, and needed to get home. (That, and having a minute alone with her would have been nice.)

Well, apparently that doomed me to their bad books for life, because once I got on that bus, she had half a block to walk back to her place. At night. In a suburban area. Horrors upon horrors.

And yes, being a man, the potential dangers are different for me. But living to the point of being afraid of walking half a block away from one’s home… I am so glad I don’t live like that anymore. So glad that I can enjoy the solitude of a good walk, or be happy to see an unknown face on the street.

The world is safer, less violent, more peaceful, than it has ever been. I will admit, however, that the dangers and evil deeds of the world are better reported than ever before. So I don’t watch the news, other than a feed on politics, science and technology. There’s always hope on those fronts. (Yes, even in politics. From time to time.)

Once I chose to trust in strangers, I stopped worrying about mythical muggers and became a much happier man, and that trust has been repaid countless times, over and over again. I highly recommend it.

Lightning Dragon (Photo credit: Jon_Tucker)

Andrew Wade