My mom’s home was burglarized a few weeks ago.
When I received her frantic phone call, I went into my “cop mode” and asked how the thieves got in, what items were stolen, told her to cancel her credit cards and get her locks changed immediately.
During my fact gathering, I learned that it occurred in the middle of the night and the brazen burglars entered her unlocked car that was parked in the driveway and gained entry to the home by using the automatic garage door opener found inside the car.
The fleeting thought to scold her for making it so easy for the thieves was quickly replaced with the overwhelming relief that she wasn’t hurt (or worse) in the commission of the burglary. I shudder to think of what might have happened had she awoke to confront the burglars, and in that moment, I was grateful for her well-being despite the property that was stolen.
My mom told me the thieves took her iPad and iPhone among a long list of other items. However, she was giggling with satisfaction that the crooks got her first generation iPad and her iPhone 4 but didn’t find the iPhone 5 to which she had upgraded. She then added, “Now I have an excuse to get the newer iPad!" Because I get the technology nerd gene from my mother, I shared in this moment of gloating but realized something even more valuable.
My mom chose to see the positive in such a negative situation. After the deputies took a report, gathered evidence and left her house, she exclaimed, “I’m going out to lunch and I’m going to have a stiff drink.” I laughed at her and understood in that moment what I’ve known all along: The people who have a positive outlook on life are the ones who make the choice to see what is right instead of what is wrong.
After the stiff drink, my mom became a bit overwhelmed with the red tape she had to go through with the insurance company, closing bank accounts, getting an alarm system installed, etc., but she always fell back on the reality that her situation could have been far worse.
It reminded me of a quotation by author Eileen Caddy:
“The difficult situations and people in our lives are here to be our teachers. This may be easy to say when we are not mired in those difficulties, but the only way we make trouble into teachers is by remembering this when it really counts… There are no accidents in life, only divine coincidence.”
The teaching moment for my mom was that she needed to be more vigilant about the security of her home and car. I didn’t need to lecture her about protecting herself so she wouldn’t be an easy target because she learned that already. She just assumed that becoming a victim happened to “other” people so it was a not so gentle reminder that we can all be more conscious about our own safety and security.
The teaching moment was even bigger for me. It reminded me once again that the citizens we serve are more than just a police report, property taken or a crime statistic. They are human beings whose lives are greatly affected by criminal acts and if every police officer treated our citizens the way they would want their own family members to be treated, we would never get a complaint about customer service again.
So, the criminals got some electronics, my mom is getting a new iPad, and I get a divine coincidence to remind me that much of my gratitude and resilience was passed onto me from my mother. The way I see the world has a great deal to do with how she shaped it for me.
It’s not what happens to us, but how we deal with it that really matters.