Recently I lost 2 pairs of dirty socks, a sweater, a young adult novel, my Bible study sheet and… my new MacBookAir with writings and edits not yet downloaded to my external hard drive. The entirety of my backpack was left nearly two hours away from my home in a parking garage at the Riverside Marriott.
I won’t reveal who actually failed to load this particular item, but it wasn’t me. While unpacking the car at home and discovering it was lost, I wish I could say that I stayed calm toward the guilty party, but then I would be lying.
In fact, I lost it. Anger bubbled out of me and spewed onto everything within 50 feet. It seemed that the only words I knew and repeated at a high decibel were: “You have got to be kidding me? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!…” I paced and pondered, “should I throw something or simply sit and cry?”
My husband tried to remind me of my own words to my boys during happier times, “Don’t you always say, ‘people are more important than things?’” But all I could think was, “No you didn’t! Get out of my way or I will hurt you.” Yes, I conveyed this in one glaring glance. (FYI husbands: this would not be the most ideal time to remind your wife about such things. After I cooled down, way after, I finally acted on what I believed at my core and apologized; but that’s another story.)
At that moment, I stormed away. I prepared myself for the most likely outcome: my backpack and all its riches was a goner. I did not have faith in my fellow man to return such a treasure.
So when the lady at the front desk of the hotel said these glorious words to my husband over the phone (since I was too angry to have a calm conversation with anyone), “Someone returned your bag,” I could hardly believe my ears.
“Really? Really! Really!?…” Again, few words (one to be exact) repeated in my head. After describing the items and making absolute sure that this was my bag, I breathed a sigh of relief, but I was still upset. It could have been lost forever, but I got lucky. Now we have to drive 4 hours there and back to get it.
Thankfully, I was reminded of a friend who attends UC Riverside and she brought back my good-as-gone backpack a week later (thank you Candy!)
But another person I have to thank is the honest stranger who brought my bag to the hotel’s lost and found (and thank the staff at the Marriott, too). At any dishonest juncture, my belongings could have been no more. But my bag was fortunate to have met some honest people. They do exist! Are you one of them?
I am far from perfect. You know this just from my description of my response above. God is still working on me. But my husband’s reminder was correct, though poorly timed: people are more important than things.
And if I chose to believe and act on this truth sooner, I could have saved myself from a regretful tantrum.
Thankfully, the honest stranger believed this. They cared more about doing what was right (perhaps thinking about the person behind the loss), than they cared about gaining the item: that’s honesty, that’s honor, that’s what “good” looks like.
Most of us can’t do this on our own. We need a moral compass, a person of integrity in our lives who we are accountable to, or better yet, an all-powerful and good God to follow.
Actually, I don’t think the return was “luck” at all. Someone simply chose to do what was right and I benefited from it.
Think about it: if we all stopped justifying what’s downright wrong, and for instance, returned what wasn’t ours, maybe we’d get back more than just our lost stuff. If we chose truth over lies, silence over gossip, people over possessions, maybe we could even get back a bit of our humanity.
Thank you honest stranger, not only for returning my things but for helping me rediscover that which was lost: hope in people to choose good.