Breathing hard, the crisp air motivates my lungs. The sun just announcing its arrival as the darkness slowly dissipates before my beam of light. It is a lonely battle to the top. My mind is engaged in a riveting story 1000 miles away providing some relief from the burning in my legs.
I hear only two beats, like the sound my heart stopping. I lose my balance. It makes no sense! I hit the gravel hard! My mind, yanked back from paradise, is racing, trying to interpret all the data. I am on my feet quickly, facing the anomaly.
It approaches, splits in two, and then in two again as the blurry, adrenaline induced haze kicks into overdrive. My mind catches up. I am being mugged. Two male assailants, four hands, fortunately unarmed. This is well planned and premeditated. They are calm and collected. Their faces tell me they know how this plays out. They have seen it a hundred times.
All this time, only one word could escape my flustered mind. No! No! I refused to give in without a fight. This, they were not expecting. The scuffle lasted a good three minutes. I distinctly remember the prompting to stop fighting. I did.
They tied me up, took my bicycle and phone and left without further incident.
So many questions, as my mind replays this experience hundreds of times. Trying to augment it’s operational patterns with the new data just uploaded. Emotionally you face the same age-old question. Reconciling these experiences with a good God. Having a solid grounding for this already makes this transition easier.
What blew my mind was the lesson. I was overwhelmed with grief and pity for my attackers. I recall asking them why they were doing this. I could see the despair and guilt in their eyes. Unlike most other crimes, a mugging is a very personal one. The offender is forced to face the victim. They are irrevocably exposed to their emotions and the gravity of the experience.
In attempting to deal with these experiences, the offenders resort to a coping mechanism. They become cold and callous. Hide the emotions in a deep pit because they are too painful to deal with.
This revelation impacts me so deeply that I decide to pray for these offenders. I was exposed to this once. They expose themselves to this frequently. Certainly not because they enjoy it, but because they know no other way to survive.
I have been so quick to judge those less fortunate. It becomes more difficult when you walk a mile in their shoes. The experience I had is caused by choices people make. Those choices are informed by systemic decay rather than poor morals. When you are offered no alternative, the offence seems like a good option to some.
Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Let me never again confuse the offender for the offence. He is a victim just like I was.
Living in this revelation compels me to be the change I wish to see. To help those who have offended me.