The Day I Stole Something From The White House

The quest for toilet paper is a national crisis. Every day, hunter gatherers nationwide are prowling grocery stores to capture the elusive and extinct rolls of security and comfort. Toilet paper has been super relevant recently and reminds me of a story that makes me laugh and also helps me reflect on something very important.

In 2018, I had the privilege of getting a private tour of the White House.

As we approached the building, I could hardly believe that we were about to step into a place where so many significant things have happened. 

I remember wondering who else had taken the steps that I was walking that evening? Presidents, First Lady’s, Vice Presidents, Members of Congress, foreign Heads of State, all have stepped where I was about to step. 

To say it was surreal to me, seemed like an understatement.

I was in awe. Once inside the doors, we were asked to turn in our cell phones. There were no pictures or video allowed except at the end of the tour in the press room. 

First, we walked through the halls and were introduced to many rooms that I was familiar with from television. We walked on the West Colonnade, between the West Wing and the Executive Residence. We smelled the fragrant Rose Garden and saw the South Lawn where Presidents have arrived and departed via helicopter. Next, The Oval Office. It is oval shaped and looks exactly like it’s portrayed on TV. 

I marveled at the honor that was displayed and the history of our country documented. It was everywhere you looked. It was awe inspiring. We don’t forget, we remember those who have built the foundation we stand on. 

Somewhere in between these awe-inspiring rooms, our tour guide who was a friend of my friend, offered us the opportunity to use the restroom and I went first. 

As I stood in the restroom, I had a moment.

I began wondering who had been in there before me? I stood there looking at a large mirror and wished that I had my phone to take a picture, even it was of the bathroom mirror just to keep my memory alive that I was in such an incredible place. 

As I glanced over, I saw the toilet paper roll. It wasn’t fancy, it didn’t have the Presidential seal embossed on it, it was just simple toilet paper. However, I was so inspired to keep something to commemorate that evening that I unrolled 4 squares of toilet paper and put it in my pocket. 

I washed my hands and left the restroom. As I was exiting my friend and our guide were laughing about the fact that people often steal toilet paper from that bathroom.  

I freaked out inside!

That bathroom mirror had to have a camera behind it! An uncomfortable voice came out of me and I said, “What are you guys talking about.” 

He went on to tell me that he didn’t know why, but people tend to steal toilet paper from the bathroom. In my high pitched, nervous voice, I said, “No way, really?” “Why?” He wasn’t sure why, but said it was just a thing that happens. I gulped. 

As a result of their conversation, as my friend exited the restroom, she held a square of toilet paper out and jokingly said, “I’m taking some!” Little did she know, I had actually taken some. All three of us laughed, although I may have laughed a little harder than they did. 

You see, I didn’t go to the White House to steal four squares of West Wing T.P. I stole that toilet paper because I wanted to commemorate my experience. 

I wanted to tangibly have something to touch, to remember how I felt that night in the place where History was made and the future will be decided. 

Today, many of us are quarantined in our homes.

Some alone, some with family. What is it that we want to tangibly have when this is over? 

How do you want to commemorate this time? 

Do you want to look back at how scared you were? What if the hours quickly turn into weeks and are stamped in your memory as a blur because of time you burned on Social Media watching how others react to the crisis? 

Do you want to commemorate this time consumed by what you might not have tomorrow, while missing out on the beauty of what you have today?

Those questions hit me hard this week, what do we want to remember?

I began to think of Joshua in the Bible. Joshua was leading the Israelites into the promised land after 40 years in the desert. We are only on day 8 of President Trump’s 15 day plan and I am going stir crazy! 40 years? Whoa.

The only thing stopping them from reaching their new land flowing with milk and honey was the Jordan River. Quite the daunting obstacle!

There is one thing standing in the way of our normal lives and that is Covid19. 

In Joshua’s situation, God stopped the water from flowing. The priests and 2 million Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground. Water returned immediately as soon as the people had crossed over. They knew this miracle could only be God. 

The same God that parted the Red Sea for Moses years earlier, was the same God who just stopped the Jordan so that they could cross. He had every single detail arranged for them in advance.

God told Joshua to take 12 stones and stack them to build a memorial as a public testimony of what He had done for them so they would never forget.  Those stones commemorated God’s goodness. 

..that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” Joshua 4:6-7

When Covid19 is over, how do we want to commemorate this time?

You see, stealing 4 squares of toilet paper from the White House might have seemed trivial at the time but I will always remember that moment.

What if we look back and see that our family is stronger for the time we spent together? What if this time is a way to reset the normally fast paced rhythm of our lives? What if we see this as an opportunity to step into our child’s world, as we become their school teacher?

When my children remember Covid19, I want them to remember this time as a moment in history when we saw the goodness of God among us.

This week, let’s Reclaim the Story that is today. We are all in this together.

Share this article on Social Media, and let’s encourage each other to see God’s goodness in the story we are living.

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