A company received a letter with $45 inside along with the following handwritten note:
To Whom It May Concern
Many years ago (25 or 30?) I stole a hammer from this place of business. I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway. Enclosed is $45 to cover the cost of the hammer plus a little extra for interest. I’m sorry I took it, but I have changed my ways.
I hope God will forgive me for all the terrible things I have done in my life. This just being a small part.
Three things stand out to me:
1. The person who stole the merchandise knew it was wrong but did it anyway. Obviously their guilt had stayed with them for three decades! What a horrible load to have to bear for so long, lingering in his or her mind, thinking about it every time someone mentioned a hammer.
How many times have you or I done something that we knew was wrong, but “did it anyway?” Why did we do it? The list of why’s can be long – raging from peer pressure to the “thrill.” But regardless, when we do something we KNOW is wrong … well that’s just the definition of stupid.
2. The person was willing to make amends. Not only make amends, but to pay a little extra. That speaks even more so to their guilt and sense of wrongdoing.
It’s one thing to know what you or I did was dumb, but it’s quite another to recognize it and just blow it off. The person who wrote the note took the step (albeit a late step) to make things right … with interest. Was the calculation accurate? Who cares. The point is that an attempt at absolution was made and the right thing was eventually done.
3. The company donated the money. The company had written off the loss a long time ago, but the president of the company allowed that loss to generate something good by the donation AND by sharing this event.
When someone does you or me wrong, let’s try to figure out a way to flip it into something good, not just for you or me, but for those around us too. What can we do to write off a loss and turn around so that more than just ourselves benefits, to make more than just our lives a little bit better?
What are your thoughts?