My husband, Bill, has gotten a new bike every ten years as he turned 40, 50, then 60. This was not planned, but it just happened and was a great birthday gift. On his 60th birthday he got a very nice and fast road bike. We thought this bike would last for a couple of decades or until he had to go to a three wheeler!
A couple of months ago, at 1 a.m. we were fast asleep in our home. I woke up thinking I heard some rumblings and carryings on down below. We have deer and other animals who come into our yard so it would be easy to dismiss the muffled noises. Even so, I shook Bill’s arm trying to wake him. I felt like I was in the scene of Aesop’s Fables where the boy had cried wolf too many times. To be honest, there are many times that this scene has been played out when I think that I have heard something or someone roaming around in the midnight hours. He was slow to rouse. I couldn’t tell if he were ignoring me or just sleepy. By the time he was semi-awake all the noise had stopped. However, the next morning we awoke to a mess around our broken garage window and it didn’t take long to notice the missing bike. A ladder had fallen over which probably caused our unfriendly group to disperse.
Anyone who has had their home broken into has felt violated. The police informed us that three other homes in our neighborhood had the same visitors that night. We were grateful that the bike was all they took and that no one was hurt. Even after the new security system was installed we had some emotional and mental adjustments. I kept telling people that we were robbed. Our friend who is in law enforcement said that really it was a burglary because no weapons were used. No matter, it felt like we were robbed! Material objects can be replaced. They are just “things”, just stuff. Sentimental objects are harder to give up.
All of this has gotten me thinking about how we rob others, not only in what we take, but in what we do not give. This has to do with our words and our actions. Last weekend, I was with a couple of friends whom I had known most of my life. During our conversation one night we were talking about someone none of us had not seen in over 40 years. Before I could catch myself I made a snide remark by adding one extra word to my sentence. No one seemed to notice and the conversation rolled on. It didn’t take 60 seconds for me to feel sick about what I had ascribed to this person’s character. It was something in the past. I am not even sure it was true and if it were, I don’t know anything about this person today. Even more important, who am I to be the evaluator of a person’s character? This person will never know that I robbed her. Even though I couldn’t take my words back, I apologized to my friends and said that my comment was wrong and that I was wrong.
Secondly, I think we can rob others by withholding encouraging and positive words that they need and deserve. Maybe a teenager is trying to find his way in life and he needs to hear something positive. There are older people who have lived full lives and feel they have no longer reason to be here. We all want to feel we have purpose and value regardless of age. When I come across situations and I’m too busy to give words or even actions that I could, I am robbing that person of something he deserves.
Last week Bill got another bike. It isn’t brand new, but it’s going to be great for him and will do just fine as we ride our local bike paths. Stolen bikes can be replaced, but it is hard to retrieve words that rob and hurt people. To refuse to give words that would be helpful can leave others empty. When we rob a person’s character and dignity there is a cost. I wish that I could say that this is an area that I have mastered, but I am becoming more aware. This is something to ponder as the wind blows in my face when Bill and I ride our bikes.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
2 thoughts on “The Stolen Bike”
A wonderful reminder. It’s hard to believe that you could ever be guilty here, but then again, we are all just “cases for grace.” Keep up the great writing, Lindy.
Steve was robbed 3 times before we met & he has often spoke of how he felt violated and devastated as a result. You have taken a negative & turned it into a positive time of reflection. Your words are thought provoking. Miss you & Bill. Hope to see you soon.