While the internet provides a tremendous resource of knowledge and convenience, it also exposes personal information in ways we could never have imagined. Safeguards that once seemed pretty much invulnerable are no longer foolproof. So how do we protect ourselves?
Some time ago I had an experience with identity fraud. When a new credit-card bill arrived, I noticed there were about $1,000 in purchases and withdrawals from ATMs in another country that neither my husband nor I had made. The credit-card company helped us submit a fraud report to investigate the matter but advised that we might be responsible for paying the bill.
This was not encouraging news, and fear started to creep in. I felt violated that someone had taken my personal information and stolen money from me. I was also skeptical that the credit-card company would follow through and get the proper evidence needed for a waiver of the charges. It seemed unfair that we might have to pay for someone else’s dishonesty.
But I saw that this was unhelpful, dead-end thinking. I knew from experience that what would be most helpful was to stop focusing so much on the resentment and instead ask, What is God knowing about all this?
Well, first off, I had learned in my study and practice of Christian Science that God is good. That He is the Giver of all good. Nothing God gives us can ever be taken away. As our creator, God also safeguards our true identity as His spiritual offspring. Therefore, I realized, nothing about this God-derived identity can be stolen or misused.
I prayed to extend this view to others involved, too – for instance, to see that the people at the credit-card company were also God’s children, the spiritual expressions of divine Truth, created to be trustworthy. My skepticism about their efforts shifted to gratitude that they were willing to investigate the matter. I felt grateful for the case worker who was patient enough to explain the whole investigative procedure to me, and for the detectives who were checking out the ATMs and stores where purchases had been made.
I was encouraged by a passage in the Bible that says, “There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known” (Luke 12:2). Besides the literal way in which I hoped this would be proved true by recouping the funds, this also suggests to me that one’s ability to express qualities such as honesty and integrity can never truly be lost, because it stems from our true, spiritual identity. Similarly, one’s God-given purity and wholeness can never be stolen, even if it seems we’ve been defrauded.
A couple of weeks later, I was delighted to learn that the perpetrators had been apprehended. I was surprised to notice that not only was our credit-card balance credited for the fraudulent charges, but an extra $1,000 had been credited by mistake.
Now it was my turn to express honesty and integrity! When I notified the credit-card company of the error, they realized that a bug in their software system resulted in twice the payback. No one had ever brought this to their attention before. Not only had the wrong done to me been corrected, but now the credit-card company and the businesses they dealt with could fix a significant problem; they were helped as well.
God does uphold and safeguard our identity, which can never be stolen, defiled, or taken away. Recognizing this spiritual reality equips us to see more evidence of it in our lives.
Adapted from a Nov. 7, 2011, article now located on JSH-Online.com.