Yesterday I was busy taking care of last minute details for my trip to Kentucky. I arrive on Saturday and I speak on Monday. I always look forward to these trips. So my attitude and spirit have been running high.
Until this morning.
There was something wrong when I awakened. I knew I had forgotten something yesterday but couldn't pin point it until I opened my closet. I needed to pick up my sport coat from the cleaners. I figured I must have left it in the car when I was unloading everything. I dressed in a hurry and headed to the car. Suddenly this empty feeling came over me.
"No!" I said as I approached the car. I couldn't see the jacket. "Maybe it fell on the floor," I thought. But it wasn't there.
That shocked, empty feeling came pouring over me. I looked in the trunk this time. Nothing.
"I know I picked it up," I said to myself. "Oh, God no. Someone stole it!" I walked slowly back into the house and stood at the bottom of the stairs and looking up at my wife I said, "My brand new jacket was stolen from my car!"
I would be ashamed to describe my anger and response to this event. I had never before had anything stolen from me. Images of some guy wearing my new sport coat and thoughts of someone laughing at my loss put me into a ten minute fit of anger. I had charged the $125 jacket and thoughts of still having to pay for it while someone else wore it infuriated me.
Marianne approached me and kept saying "I'm sorry, Bob." You could see the look on her face that she was uncomfortable with the way I was reacting. Finally I sat there on the couch in silence. She kissed me goodbye as I sat slumped over and groaning.
In the background, as I repeatedly ran through my every step yesterday, the local television newscaster rattled on. I heard her say, "You remember last month we shared the story of the overwhelming community response to the Plains Township police officer who was battling cancer. We are sorry to report that this 29-year-old man died yesterday. He and his wife were married in May."
"Oh, God forgive me!" I said out loud.
How petty I was. I lost a jacket. Compared to these people I am the wealthiest man alive. I called my wife and left a message for her apologizing for the way I acted.
"Whoever it was that stole my jacket may have needed it more. If not, they will need to answer for their act and ultimately pay for it in full," I said. "Not only did they steal from me, but now my anger has intruded into my life and my best friend and love didn't need to hear this."
I was suddenly completely at peace with this. An incredible transformation occurred. But the story doesn't end there.
About an hour later a thought came to me. Did I or didn't I pick up that jacket yesterday? Could I possibly have been thinking about the one I picked up the day before when I dropped the new one off? I ran to the car and there on the console was the laundry stub. My new jacket was safely in storage.
How foolish and stupid I felt. All the wasted energy. All the anger. I understood now why I suddenly came to peace with the event. It never happened.
I called my wife and profusely apologized. She said she had planned to buy me a new one later in the day because she felt so bad for me.
But wait. One more reminder. God wasn't finished with me yet.
Some lessons in life are learned the hard way. In fact they are the most important ones.
I had just picked up my "stolen" jacket and turned into the parking lot of the local grocery store. Seconds later, as I turned the car off, I heard a terrible, grinding crash. At the entrance to the lot two cars had collided. One had three older adults, and the other was driven by a young teenage boy. His car had shifted into reverse upon impact and crashed into the drugstore across the street.
I do not need to go into any more detail. As far as I know they were all alive when taken away.
How trivial I was. I am ashamed to say that that $125 sport coat brought out the worst in me. How dare I carry on and waste such precious moments of my life over a jacket?
I came home and opened my closet. Every sport coat and suit that I have held on to and are an unnecessary part of my ward robe was promptly taken to the local Salvation Army drop-off.
One policeman lost his life to cancer, one young boy awaits a kidney so he can live, four people nearly lost their lives and I wasted mine over "The Jacket."