He Took My Purse

“He Took My Purse,” Ensign, June 2003, 70–71

He Took My Purse

As a single woman, I am used to being careful about safety. But in the weeks before my trip to the Atlanta Georgia Temple, my usual concern escalated into a recurring nightmare in which a man mugged me, getting away with my credit cards, checks, and driver’s license. My concern became so great that the day before leaving for the temple, I checked my wallet three times to make sure everything—including my temple recommend—was still there.

That same evening I went to a party with my wallet in my purse, along with a small mirror and the tube of lipstick I am never without. After parking my car and adding my keys to my purse, I started toward the church where the party was underway. I was alone in a big city, but I wasn’t afraid. Having asked for the Lord’s protection earlier that evening, I felt safe.

As I walked up a path, I sensed someone behind me and turned to see a man running at me with lightning speed. There was a sharp tug on my purse, a strong hand on my arm, and I heard, “Give me your purse!” As I struggled to free myself, my purse flew across the broad lawn, landing in the nearby bushes. I cried out, but the man ran, retrieving my purse as he left.

After calling the police, I found an empty room in the church where I could send a silent prayer up to Heavenly Father. “I don’t understand,” I thought, fighting tears. “I was going to the temple tomorrow! Now he has my temple recommend! Father, why wasn’t I protected?” Feeling helpless and hopeless, I went out to face the police officers.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Thomas. The officers didn’t find anything—not the thief, not your purse,” I was told. But as the police officers and I walked to my car, an impression came to me.

“I’m going to look in the grass to see if anything fell out of my purse, OK?” I tried not to get my hopes up, but when I saw something metallic reflecting light from the streetlamps, I scooped it up triumphantly and shouted, “My keys! My keys are here!” I said a silent prayer of thanks as we started toward my car once again.

“Wait! I want to look in the bushes too.”

Shaking his head, the officer escorting me answered with a half-grin, “Go ahead, but no one has that kind of luck.”

He was wrong. Unable to contain my tears, I shouted from the bushes, “My wallet!” Inside it, everything—including my temple recommend—was intact. The police officers were dumbfounded.

“I’ve never seen anyone so lucky,” one commented.

“It’s not luck,” I answered without thinking. “It’s protection from God.” I doubted the police officers would understand the importance of my trip to the temple, so to break the skeptical silence, I jokingly added, “The guy did get one thing of value though—my lipstick!” No one laughed.

Feeling awkward, I glanced back at the bush where I had made my last amazing find. What I saw astonished me: there, upright on the little mirror I carry in my purse, was my tube of lipstick.

Before the police arrived, I had wondered why God hadn’t protected and blessed me. But standing on that lawn next to the flabbergasted police officers, I realized He had done both. Now, whenever I have the slightest doubt that Heavenly Father is aware of my struggles, I remember the night He saved my keys, my wallet, my temple recommend, and even my tube of lipstick.

  • Rebecca Thomas is a member of the Clermont Ward, Orlando Florida Stake.

Illustrations by Doug Fakkel