Tuesday, July 31

What should I do with this?

Last week I wrote about how to protect yourself from identity theft and bank fraud. I wrote from the pain and frustration of my own experience. A thief in Florida somehow obtained my bank account information and driver's license number. She succeeded in stealing $2380.00 from my bank before she was apprehended.

But she was apprehended. A smart teller recognized that something was amiss.  That teller went through the images recorded by the security cameras at the bank. She was able to provide police with photos of the thief. The bank asked me to sign an affidavit regarding the theft.

In addition to the $2380 the thief stole from my bank, I lost a great deal of time in dealing with this mess. I spent more than 25 hours trying to get things straightened out. Ugh.

The whole situation became much more personal yesterday when I received this letter:

Even though I had willingly signed the affidavit and sworn that I would assist Florida authorities in prosecuting the criminal, I wasn't quite prepared for the effect of seeing a letter describing the crimes committed against me. The charges include criminal use of personal identification and grand theft. Grand theft is a felony. If convicted, a person can face significant jail time and fines for this crime.

How do I feel about all of this?  It was easy to be angry at first. This crime was highly organized and carefully orchestrated, carried out by someone who clearly understood the banking system. The thief was successful in stealing $2380 and was attempting to steal more when a sharp teller became suspicious of her actions. Who knows how much she would have stolen if she hadn't been caught?

I do feel a firm determination that the laws of the land be enforced. People must not be allowed to steal. If they do steal, they must be punished. It is not good for this woman or for anyone else to think harming another person is the way to get what she needs or wants. The hope is that the punishment will dissuade her from ever stealing again and serve as a warning against stealing for others who might be contemplating it.

But I think that God wants from me more than a determination that laws be enforced. I now have a very clear, black-and-white, no-doubts demonstration of the way this woman sinned against me.  I could simply feel a righteous indignation about this situation.  Or I could feel terrified and fearful that a person capable of grand theft has my name and personal information.

The truth is that my feelings are mixed. I was in fact the innocent victim of this crime. But deep down I know I'm not an innocent person. Oh, I don't break the laws of the land. But I know I've broken God's laws. I am guilty of so many things. My heart breaks at the thought of my sins and weeps with relief and gratitude at the thought of my Savior--the one who taught me to pray:

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

I know that the laws of the land need to be observed and upheld; the laws are for the good of all, including both me and the woman who stole from me.  I don't wish to be stolen from again, and I certainly don't want another person to be the victim of theft.  But I can't hold onto anger at this woman.  I can't let my mind and heart be occupied by indignation at the crime she committed against me.

I think perhaps the best thing to do here is to pray for her.  After all, I have her name.  I have the number of case against her.  I know the date of her arraignment.  So I can pray that she will be blessed. I can pray that God will provide what she needs.  That starts with her learning an important lesson about stealing.  But surely it must include more than that.

What do you think?  What would be your prayer for someone who had committed a crime against you?

I'm joining Amanda at Serenity Now for Weekend Bloggy Reading


  1. You should forgive the offenses against you. But sin always has a consequence. Could be the person was promiscuous and now has an STD... the person drank and drive now has hurt himself in a wreck and is in terrible pain forever... Has stolen money from someone and now faces jail time.

    It is your responsibility to forgive and forget as far as the east is from the west like God does when we as for forgiveness, but God is the judge and will effect what is needed to draw all men to him

    Shelle, Milo, Dixie and Newby,

  2. Oh, Richella, I am so sorry this happened to you. First of all, we have a rider on our home owner's policy that helps with identification theft (cost of straightening it out, etc.). Second, your stopping her has kept her from stealing from others so this isn't just about "you" even as it is very much about you. And finally, we often forget that even in the Bible, there are consequences post forgiveness. David committed adultery and murder and was forgiven but there were consequences: the death of Bathsheba's son, the fact that the sword would never depart from his house. Forgiveness and consequences go hand-in-hand. (You've raised kids!) I think your goal to hold her accountable but pray for her is dead on. Blessings, Richella.

  3. I agree you should forgive... even though sometimes that can be hard. But forgiveness will give you an excellent opportunity to contact her (possibly by letter) and let her know you forgave her and have been praying for her. Possibly through that a relationship could be formed an a door to share the gospel opened. That would be so much more effective than just time spent in jail.
    I can't imagine everything you have had to go through and I am sorry to hear that you have spent so much time on this. I will pray that God would receive glory through all of this.

  4. I was just praying for the situation and realized although she stole your financial identity she can't steal your true identity "A Child of God". Isn't it wonderful that no one can pluck us out of God's hands! That's security!

  5. I feel like I learn so much every time I read something on your blog Richella! Honestly I think the best thing would be to pray that she learns from her mistake and that she will take her punishment and hopefully not commit this kind of crime again.

  6. Wonderfully written!! I think that you can certainly forgive her, while at the same time allowing the law to punish her for her crimes.

    I've been working on a forgiveness issue of my own with a woman from my MOPS group. She is widely known as a "trouble-maker," a very unhappy person, and a person who has a very very difficult time connecting with others socially. I've never dealt much with her until recently when she sent the head pastor an email with a very big lie about me. It worked out fine on my end, but I am still struggling with being angry with her. I know there's something broken inside her (how else could someone who claims to be a Christian act that way??) and she is desperate for friends and connections...but forgiveness is hard, isn't it??

  7. I like the way you are thinking about this, and it seems like a great idea to pray for her. Good for you.

  8. I would of course pray she REPENT and come to know Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior.

    I would NOT send a letter. The woman is an ID thief and I would not willing send her more info bout myself (the return address)

  9. I'm so glad you wrote this, it can be very hard to forgive those that have hurt us or our loved ones in some way but everyone is God's child and in their own way are doing the best they can with what they really understand and if we can remember those two things and that we would hope for forgiveness for our sins then we ca help the world be a little bit better, a little bit kinder and little bit more loving.

    Thank you.

  10. I think you pray that her heart will be changed and that His will will be done. I think you absolutely forgive because, first we are commanded to and second (one of my favorite quotes) "Anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die."

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  12. I read this post this morning & my 1st thought was "Grace" & then I thought...."ofcourse the name of her blog" : ) & then I pondered for a while.
    I am confident that Grace & forgiveness is for us, as much as for those we extend it to. God uses it to grow us as well, as those we offer it up to.
    Our family was recently blessed to be able to buy a lake home. We own it jointly with our married sons & DIL's... since we got it, I have sort of preached to the kids that we are blessed to share, let the neighbors see Jesus & always extend Grace. And then just recently a new neighbor was bragging on our family to me & she said, "I love that your family is so full of grace & that is what you seem to be about"
    I was proud.... :)
    Then today I read your post & a wrong that was done to me came to mind, & how I am holding it. And then I felt ashamed.
    How dare I not forgive my sister, even though I have the right to be angry & even feel somewhat righteous... : )
    SOooo... after this epistle of mine.... : )
    Thanks for sharing, I would never tell you what to do, but your being wronged & then telling us about it, helped heal my heart today...
    Blessings.... K.

  13. I congratulate you on being able to forgive and pray for this person this soon. I agree that is what you need to do for yourself. She also needs to be punished for her crime. All of this is Biblical. You would suffer far more from un-forgiveness than she would. I guess my prayer would be that during the coming proceedings she would find Jesus, His love, grace, forgiveness and be able to turn her life around. God Bless,

  14. I would pray that God would use this situation to help her see the truth about herself and the truth about God and that she would find Jesus.


  15. This is in response to the lady who read my response and posted on my blog this response, which was left without means for me to respond direct to her:

    3frankie333 has left a new comment on your post "Furiends... Be thankful.":

    I am responding to a comment you left on richellas blog ( imparting grace)saying that promiscuous people got punished with stds.. I was unable to post on that site, I don't know why, but felt strongly enough to find you on this site... I am a 54 yr old christian woman who has had two sexual partners in her life... By no standards am I PROMISCUOUS, but I have an std... I am hiding in shame, afraid to date because of the assumptions of people like yourself... Please do not judge... You really upset me

    You didn't say if those partners were during a marriage with them. Because if you were not married and had sex that is being promiscuous. Doesn't matter if it was 1 partner or 100. Sex is set aside for marriage, to bring you closer to your spouse and God through the physical.

    Ultimately I hope you know I can empathize and sympathize with your feelings... It is regrettable this situation has happened... but lets go forward.

    I was not saying every instance of an STD is as the result of sin, but the person is putting themselves AT RISK by promiscuous behavior to have that happen... just like pregnancy...

    These are things that CAN happen if we put ourselves into situations where there is no Light and covered by Darkness.

    Some people might sleep around with 100 people and never catch a thing, but that person might have other things, self esteem issues, have issues with relationships and marriage later, might have issues with having children, might set themselves up for sexual assault, can lead to divorce...

    Sometimes we suffer for the sins of others... just as in your case. Your partner at one time or another caught an STD and either through his omission, or the omission of another in telling him, you now have an STD.

    You have an STD. So what do you do now?

    Firstly, you forgive the person who sinned against you (or sinned against your partner leading the STD back to you.)

    You ask God to forgive you for the upset and dislike you had for the person when you found out... cause we are human. I'd be hard put not to track down the partner or the person who gave it to the partner and pulverize them.

    Ask God to help you turn this into a blessing to others... and to use it to lead others to him.

    No. Having and STD doesn't mean you cannot be a blessing to others. Instead of being ashamed, use this "thorn in the side" to educate others.. to show them God's forgiveness (as you have forgiven the sex partner)... to show them God's love and grace (as he is providing you with caring and understanding people around you)...

    We can use anything we have, and have been commanded to do so, to lead others to God.

    Just like God could be preparing Richelle's ID thief up for something extra special later in life... could be saving her through this experience... could be taking her out of mainstream public and putting into jail to protect her from other things that are being moved against her.

    It is our responsibility to do what is right and just. Listen to God's Holy Spirit and move accordingly.

    It's all about how we use what situation God has given us... all about how we seek His face during those situations..

    I know that you can shake off those negative feelings you have and move on using what has happened to you as a beacon for God.

  16. I thought about this since I first read it yesterday...for certain I say "forgive", and then "forget". Circumstances in this specific situation make it that simple for me to say this. (she lives far away from you, made a poor decision, and must suffer the consequences - none of which had anything to do with you) You can pray for her to be treated fairly, but then I would put your faith energy elsewhere.

  17. I thought of you and this issue as I read 1 Timothy 2:1-8 this morning!

  18. Thanks for the beautiful lesson. I need to forgive many, forget about it and pray for them. I think you should let the law run its course. Her punishment should fit her crime. You have already prayed for her salvation. If you feel like doing some more, you or your friends could try to reach her for our LORD in any way that seems best to you, while she serves her sentence.

  19. The homeschool homemakerAugust 2, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Jim Bob Duggar was robbed at gunpoint several years ago. He left a Bible for his attacker in jail. A man who saw him do it and thought he was crazy later was saved. This women is lost, by Gods grace alone we do not act the same. Forgiveness and prayer and sharing the gospel are excellent. She just might have stolen from the one women who would do this for her. May the God we serve use you mightily in here life and others.

  20. The Homeschool HomemakerAugust 2, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Hi Richella, I was so moved by this post I talked about it on my radio show today. I hope you don't mind, I gave out your blog address too.

    You can listen here on The Homeschool Homemaker Show for August 2.
    http://tobtr.com/s/3575779. #BlogTalkRadio

    Have a Great day!
    The Homeschool Homemaker

  21. The Homeschool HomemakerAugust 2, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Sorry for the repost, but I don't know if your older posts are still active or not.

    Homeschool Homemaker said...

    Hi Richella, I was so moved by this post (regarding forgiving the person who stole from you) I talked about it on my radio show today. I hope you don't mind, I gave out your blog address too.

    You can listen here on The Homeschool Homemaker Show for August 2.
    http://tobtr.com/s/3575779. #BlogTalkRadio

    Have a Great day!
    The Homeschool Homemaker

  22. I'm so sorry you had to go through all that! Ugh! I think your forgiveness is awesome! The fact that you saw a real person behind that letter really shows your heart. I know it seems like you are the bad guy now that this person is caught...but you didn't do anything wrong. We never know why people do some of the things you do...and Krystle makes a good point in saying you could send her a letter saying you forgive her. What an awesome example of Christian kindness! I do believe too that she needs to face the consequences of her actions. Maybe she can find God through all this. Keep praying for her lost soul. She truly needs to find a better path in life. Thank you for sharing your heart. =)

  23. I am walking alongside my best friend who's husband was murdered almost 4 years ago. The murderer was convicted last year and will be in prison for the rest of his life.

    For me, praying for the killer is helping bring about forgiveness. I am reminded over and over that we ALL are sinners and God's grace is big enough to cover all sins whether it be murder or my jealousy or pride. I also pray that somehow the killer might know God's forgiveness, grace and love.

    There is so much more I could add but I would sincerely encourage you to pray for this woman. Maybe someday her life will be changed and she will give testimony of where she had been and where God has brought her to. God bless, Sister.

  24. Oh, Richella! I'm so sorry this happened to you. "What a headache" was my initial response when I began reading this post. Then my heart melted when I read your attitude throughout the post. Yes indeed, friend, you are beautiful inside and out.
    As always your graciousness shines, even in darkness. Praying for you as you face the rest of this"hot mess." ;) ((hugs))

  25. Richella, I haven't been visiting blogs much lately, but just saw this post.

    Years ago my pastor went through a horrific experience. A drunk driver hit and killed his wife when she was 7 months pregnant with their first child. Almost immediately, God began dealing with him about forgiving the person who had robbed him of his whole family. My pastor knew that the forgiveness wasn't as much for the other man as it was for himself. He would have been stuck in a bitter place that God couldn't bless if he harbored anger in his heart and he might never get free from it.

    I know God didn't prompt this woman to steal, but He can turn anything to good. He knew that YOU would pray for her when she did. How blessed she is that she chose to steal from you. So sorry for all the trouble it caused on your end.


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