Starbucks. A weakness of mine. In the middle of a foreign city (yes, even as beautiful as Paris), Starbucks stands as my own little oasis. Whenever Trent’s on the road, I head to Starbucks to get a grande cup of caffeine and a small taste of the States.
Today I joined the sweetest friend of mine (and also a fellow wife of one of Trent’s teammates) for coffee at Starbucks on the famed Champs de Elyseés. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?
Well, sometimes ugly things happen at beautiful places.
As I was sitting and chatting away, a middle-aged man casually brushed my chair, gave me halfhearted “sorry” and slowly walked off. In a moment of hyper-awareness, I opened my purse which was hanging next to me on my chair only to find my wallet gone. I had no idea when it’d happened, but I just had this feeling. I bolted out of my chair and sprinted across Starbucks until I caught up with the clumsy passerby. I grabbed his arm and wheeled him around. In his hands, my wallet.
Admittedly, my first thought should’ve probably been something along the lines of, Thank God it was this guy, or I would’ve looked like a complete fool! Pretty sure I’d almost clotheslined two people in line for their latte during my graceful chase.
Stunned, he shoved my wallet back into my hands and started repeating “I’m sorry.”
“Are you serious?!” I was irate. In all honesty, I just wanted to punch him…
He went on to say that this wasn’t his job (when did pickpocketing qualify as an official occupation?), and he isn’t from around here, and he’s hungry, and he’s sorry, he’s sorry, he’s sorry…
“Are you serious?! We’re going back into Starbucks. If you’re that hungry, I’ll buy you all the food on display and every coffee they have…”
He refused my offer. Surprising, I know.
“Do you have any idea what it does to people when you steal their wallets -their money, passports and cards?? Do you know how frustrating and violating that is?!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”
I was surrounded by security guards at stores all around, but in a moment of clarity – “Well… What you did was wrong… But I’m a Christian. I forgive you. I just want you to never, ever do that again. It’s a terrible thing to do to someone.”
I said a prayer that if he didn’t understand a thing I was saying, at least he’d know enough to comprehend that Christian and forgiveness somehow go together.
Because after all, that’s what it’s all about. If I have a God who forgives me a lifetime of iniquity, why couldn’t I forgive a single incident?
When the shoe’s on the other foot I’m the first to call for mercy and the last to look for justice. It’s a humbling reality to know I’m no better than the pickpocket.
Nothing more was said. He went one way and I the other. My legs were jelly, but I’m still not sure if that’s called an adrenaline rush or the I-haven’t-sprinted-in-three-years-effect.
What’s done is done… Maybe I should’ve turned him in, maybe not. I still don’t know if I did the “right” thing or even the “good” thing. But I hope I did the thing that made a difference. Because grace makes a deeper impact that justice ever will. And sometimes it hurts more to be punched in the heart than in the face.
Even in a sometimes-ugly world, His grace is always beautiful. The only thing more amazing about grace showing up when it’s least expected…it’s granted when we least deserve it.