Thursday, March 23, 2017

the Military ID

"You're sure that you don't mind?" 

"Not at all!" I replied, taking the envelope from my brother in law. He had just returned from serving a two year mission, and was gone during the time I had dated and married his brother. I was looking for a way to build a relationship with this new family member of mine, and opportunity came knocking. My brother in law was fulfilling a favor to his ex-companion, who sent something back to his parents for safe keeping. The companion's parents lived next to my parents, so I offered to finish delivering the package when I visited my parents that Sunday.

When my brother in law left, I inspected the envelope. There was nothing extraordinary about its regular letter size, if not a little dirty from being crammed into a suitcase travelled from Mexico. The imprint of a credit card creased the bottom corner. A name and phone number of was written on the front flap. Honestly, I thought it was odd making fuss to hand deliver a credit card home, but I understood the misfortune if the mail system happened to lose the package.

As it would turn out, the mail system may have been more reliable than my own hands.


After I made the phone call to the companion's parents, I put the envelope in a safe place. It fit snugly into a pile of letters that I needed to mail out the next morning. The package was placed right on top, so that I wouldn't forget to drop it off on Sunday.

Wednesday morning passed. I mailed my letters. Thursday came. The envelope was gone.

It's a fair assumption to make that I accidentally mailed it with the stack of letters. That's what I thought as well. The next few days were repeated phone calls to the post office lost-and-found department and turning my 600 square foot apartment upside down. Every pile of papers was carefully sifted through and double checked by my husband. That apartment didn't have much room to hide a small envelope. Each phone call to the post office was met with an apology that nothing had turned up. 

Each prayer for help from God became a little more frantic than the last.

Finally, it was the night before I was supposed to drop off the package. The envelope had completely disappeared. It was time. The owners needed to know.

I shut myself in the bedroom, already feeling disappointed in myself. I was about to break the trust of many people, because I had been sloppy and inattentive to responsibility. Posed at the edge of the bed, I slowly dialed the companion's parents. Please let it go to voicemail, I pleaded. Leaving a message would be easier than having a live conversation.

"Hello, this is John," came a man's voice. Life isn't meant to be easy.

I explained the situation that the envelope had been misplaced and that I was doing my best to find it. The man was surprised, and became upset. I did not blame him one bit for his frustration. Especially when he explained to me that the "credit card", as I supposed it had been, was actually his son's irreplaceable military I.D. His son had accidentally brought it with him on his mission to Mexico, and wanted to make sure it came home as safely as possible.

Oh if only I hadn't been the "safely as possible" vessel.

I choked my way through tears and apologized again. The phone call ended on my promise to keep searching and his frustration that it probably wasn't going to be found.

Moments later, the man called me back with a sincere apology for his attitude. He said he was impressed by my attempts to locate the envelope and that it would be okay if those attempts weren't enough. "Mistakes happen," he said.

Cue the grateful tears.

The post office never found the envelope in their lost-and-found box. After a couple more weeks, I stopped calling in to check up. My prayers changed from "Please help me find this!" to "If it's meant to be found, guide me there." Self-disappointment resided in my heart, but strength to push forward was found in that family's forgiveness.

One Saturday morning, I sat down at my kitchen card table. Without giving much thought about it, I reached for a scripture case that was sitting there. Almost unconsciously, I flipped to the back of the case where lay a stack of papers. Most were jotted down notes from Sunday School. But something creased, slightly dirty, and marked with a name and a phone number caught my attention.

The Military ID had been found.

After staring at the envelope for a good while, and maybe a giving a good pinch on the arm to make sure this wasn't a dream, I immediately dialed John's number and shared the good news. Hurrah! His son was going to be so relieved, he said. Darn, I thought I sort of hoped that he didn't know about that quite yet.

Then came another surprise. Once the envelope was finally delivered safely to the owner's parents, the parents returned with a large baby gift bag. Somehow the fact that I was pregnant with a girl at the time had made its way into our phone conversation. Although I didn't deserve anything after the stress and trouble that had been caused, the family made a point to show kindness and forgiveness with a minky blanket for my coming baby girl.


3 years later and this blanket is still a regular at bedtime

There's a little magnet on my grandma's fridge with this poem.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.


credited to Mother Teresa

And, if I may add, "During conflict, it's between them and God. It was never between them and me anyway."

The family that had all the reason to dislike and distrust me instead chose to forgive me my mistake. Then, they chose to share love in a baby blanket.  This example has brought me closer to understanding Christ's personality and how He lives to the title of "the Prince of Peace". How grateful am I for the Savior and those who try to live like Him.

He is forgiving. He is compassionate. He is Hope. Click on over to mormon.org this Easter season to read more stories inspired by the #PrinceofPeace.

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