Have you ever bought anything on Craigslist? For me, it’s always a little nerve-wracking, not because I’m afraid that I will get mugged or killed but because I’ve been screwed over before. I was in the market for a Bosu ball – and I’m not sure if you know what that is, but you probably have seen it at your local gym. It’s basically half of a Pilates ball attached to a round platform, and you can jump on it, balance on it, use it as a base underneath you for an ab workout, use it for elevated push-ups, and more.
I’ve always wanted one, but brand new they are around $130, and so I was thrilled to see someone in my community advertise it for $40 on Craigslist. The lady seemed so friendly via text, promptly answering all of my questions about its condition via multiple text message exchanges, and even called me “Sweetie” (first warning sign!). But I felt good about everything at that point, and so we arranged to meet in my local McDonalds parking for the sale.
When I checked out the Bosu ball in person, it definitely seemed to be in good condition, but I did notice that it was underinflated (second warning sign). I pointed it out to the lady, and she casually just said that some people prefer it flatter and less filled up than others, and that I just needed to pump it up some more if I liked. At that point, I didn’t perfectly have a peace about the situation, but her explanation seemed reasonable and I didn’t have a pump in my car to add air to it anyway, and so I was like, okay, deal. I gave her $40, I took the Bosu ball, and I came home super excited to try out my new fitness toy.
You can imagine what happened next. I pumped up the Bosu ball, and heard a tiny hissing sound.
And I was like, OH NO NO NO NO NO THIS IS NOT HAPPENING.
And within a few minutes, it was underinflated again.
I texted the lady immediately, and of course she didn’t text back.
And I wanted to RAGE.
But I gritted my teeth, took a deep breath, and proceeded to take it apart. Immediately I located a small slit in the ball that was previously hidden under the plastic rim, and tried to use duct tape, super glue, and a vinyl patch over the course of the next two days to repair it.
Nothing worked. It would not hold air.
I actually tried more solutions over the course of the next few weeks, but eventually realized that just seeing it in my house produced a lot of anger, resentment, and even feelings of hate towards the lady who defrauded me, and so I threw it out.
And now I want to talk to you about forgiveness.
It’s really hard. I kid you not, I wanted so badly to go off via text on the lady. She intentionally deceived me. She was completely okay ripping someone off – ripping me off, a kind stranger – for forty measly dollars. These are the things that I wanted to text her:
“I can’t believe you screwed me over!?!? What kind of person does that?!! How can you so easily cheat someone else?!”
“What sort of EVIL is in your heart that you would be so prompt and friendly in texting me before the sale, and then not text me back now?!”
“Enjoy your $40. Just remember that God is just. You will get yours, and you will remember this moment in your suffering when you took advantage of someone else so callously, intentionally, and indifferently.”
“I speak a curse over you. I speak a curse on your life, your family members, and your home. You are now and forever CURSED, and you will remember this defining moment when your life began to fall apart!”
(I seriously wanted to ask God to allow her life to be completely ruined. I wanted this badly.)
But despite these very strong emotions (there is nothing like having your trust so blatantly violated), I held back. In retrospect, I don’t know how I did because I was steaming mad for a long time. But the Holy Spirit helped me to remember a few things. For example, I recall hearing God say to me in my heart “Vengeance is mine. Not yours.” That is straight out of Hebrews 10:30 and Romans 12:19. He also reminded me to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me. That is straight out of Matthew 5:44. It’s funny how the Word of God comes to the top of your mind in times of need when you have planted it in the bottom of your heart.
God also made me feel sorry for her. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t so much compassion as it was pity. He asked me to think about what sort of things might be going on in her life that would make her inclined screw someone else over without compunction. And as I did, I actually felt thankfulness in my heart that I wasn’t in the same position – desperate, needy, devoid of any sort of ethical code, willing to do whatever for a few bucks.
These two thought processes comforted me and helped me to let it go and move on. Life is unjust, but God is just. The loss wasn’t worth dwelling on, even though it cost me money, time, and a lot of emotional energy.
And in retrospect, I am happy that I didn’t invoke the wrath of God on that lady (I don’t really know if I could, I’ve never tried and think I never should because it doesn’t feel right). Romans 12:17 tells us that we should “repay no evil for evil but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” That is really hard to live out, but I appreciate being called to such a high standard. As a Christ follower, I always want to do the right thing, the noble thing, the loving thing. It is what sets me apart, and it should be what sets you apart.
And so I forgave her.
I don’t think I will ever buy a Bosu ball again, new or used. Whenever I have seen one in a gym, it has ushered in a wave of heavy emotions tied to this incident and so I guess it’s been forever tainted. Because of forgiveness, though, I have been able to trust others and purchase (and sell) items on Craigslist. I know it’s not the web site’s fault, and I know that humans will always only be human. And we all make mistakes and bad decisions and hurt others, intentionally and unintentionally. We live and we learn from these experiences, but through it all we keep trying to love.