I was leaving target and headed to my car when I saw a young man coming from behind the store with a bag and a ski mask. This looked extremely suspicious, I thought, “Just ignore it.” A pit in my gut set in and I knew I should do something. I quickly pulled out my phone to report it.
The young man took his mask off and began to cross the parking lot, I remained on the phone… just walking as if I did not see him. Our paths crossed and the boy panicked, he put the bag down. It was at this time that I noticed two young men were following me.
I picked up the bag, it was full of stolen merchandise.
I made my way into a local restaurant where there were plenty of people and noise. I finally connected with 911. I told the officer I would like to report a shop lifter. I explained my dilemma, at which he scolded me. “You should have just left the bag.” he said.
I agreed, apologized profusely, and asked him how fast they could be there. He gave me a vague answer and acted like, “It’s your own fault you’re in this mess.” I knew he was right, and I couldn’t do anything but pretend I didn’t see the 3 young men waiting in the corner for me to leave the restaurant.
I stayed in the restaurant and finally took a seat. These three boys immediately confronted me. They asked me what I was doing and what was in the bag. I knew this was not going to end well. I did my best to ignore them and act ‘natural’ but they were growing impatient. I texted my brother and asked him to come as soon as he could. I just told him, “Wendy’s across from Target, please come ASAP, I need you.”
A couple more boys showed up. They were athletes and looked at me with indignation. I did not know what to do. One of the bigger boys approached me and taunted me, asking me why I had the bag.
He came within two inches of my face and sneered, “Your dead.”
It was at this time that my brother showed up. He sat by me and asked what was wrong. I finally had enough courage to speak to these boys. I told them, “I think you should know, the police will be here any minute and I know your faces.” I won’t be leaving here until they come, but you may want to leave. The two bigger boys left without a word.
The others plead with me to give them the bag. They told me their sob story, about how they couldn’t survive without those things and their family would suffer. They were scared. They didn’t know what to do. Another 5 minutes, passed with no sign of the police. I began to explain that I was sorry I had to do this to them. That I was not setting out to get in the middle or condemn them. I simply knew I had to act according to my conscience.
The boy who was carrying the bag began to soften and admitted that he deserved whatever he got. The other two grew even more agitated and left. Me, my brother and this young man began to talk about life choices and why we do the things we do. The police never showed up.
I told the boy, “look, I don’t know why… but I don’t think the police are coming. We have this whole bag of stolen merchandise. What should we do with it?”
A thought flashed through my mind, “split it with him!”. There was some valuable items inside and I had a deep temptation to satisfy my curiosity and see if I could use any of the items in the bag. I could see from the boys expression that his thoughts were going the same direction.
“No!” I thought, “I will take it back to the store and tell them my story.”
“Target will think you stole the goods, you’ll be in trouble.” The devil on my shoulder protested.
The young man piped up,
“I’ll go with you to take the stuff back. I deserve whatever I get.”
That phrase removed all fear and I was stunned by the courage and responsibility this boy showed. He had been awakened to his own conscience.
Then the thought came to me, “Target will be impressed! Give them a story to share with their customers. It will encourage customer integrity.”
“You could share this on your blog too! What a great story!” I thought to myself.
This was only a dream… but I won’t let that hinder what I learned.
I woke with a sense of satisfaction and relief. I was upside down in my mind. It took me awhile to really understand that the experience was a dream. I felt a tinge of pride, knowing that I acted exactly as I would like to act… though I often cower to fear. This was a vivid dream, it felt absolutely real and I could sense everything from the sounds and smells to the heat of the sunlight.
I don’t desire to be a ‘flashy’ hero, to fly in and ‘save the day.’ The most powerful part of my dream was the change that took place in the young man. I desire to be an honest, courageous and a trustworthy person. My actions inspired an unintentional, unforeseen change in the young man… His acts were more courageous than mine. I don’t recommend you intervene with a shop lifter; or any type of criminal, only that you take a little courage and act according to your conscience. You will inspire others.
What are your deepest, grandest desires? Are you honoring them? The most ordinary people have extraordinary potential. You have something divine that is begging to be expressed. I hope you will begin to dream of the person you ‘could’ be. See yourself as courageous, powerful and a force for good. Be a hero… a victor an MVP. In the game of life, there are only 3 parts. The victim, the villain and the victor… you choose your role by the stands you make in everyday life.
Make your decisions personal. Do what you do because of who you are, or desire to become, not because of who you think others should be. When we set out to ‘fix’ others, we will most certainly insist they are broken. When others need fixing, we cannot see our opportunities for growth.
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Make it your mission to honor the light within you, to know yourself and act accordingly.
“If there is no enemy within you, the enemy outside can do you no harm.”