The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


March 1, 2014

Taking care of your identity

Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published April 22, 2006.

A restaurant server’s mistake taught a friend and me a valuable lesson. Always check your bank card after you use it.

When my friend and I paid for our food, we used identical debit cards. The server inadvertently switched them when she brought the receipts back to the table.

Engaged in deep conversation, neither of us noticed.

The next morning I tried to use “my” card as a debit. The PIN kept coming up invalid. Suddenly, I saw my friend’s signature on the back of the card and realized what had happened. I also saw the skeptical look on the clerk’s face as I wrote out a check for my purchase and explained why I had someone else’s card.

By the time I called my friend, she had already used my card twice. She brought in the receipts, wrote me a check for what she had spent and we were both thankful we’re honest people.

She will now have to get a new card because my PIN messed hers up. Because she used mine as a credit card, I’ve had no problem with mine. However, the fact that my name was clearly printed on both receipts with her signature above it escaped notice at two different places.

I know store clerks have a lot to think about, but I would urge any of you reading this column to take that second look and make sure the signature matches the cardholder’s name. If there’s any question in your mind at all, ask for an ID. If the card holder gets huffy, remind them you’re protecting their best interests.

It should also remind all of us to take a second look at our card any time it’s handed back to us. It’s our responsibility to check that. Had my friend not been such an honest woman, I could be in serious debt right now.

This mini-crisis, however, taught me more than a lesson about debit card responsibility.

It made me think about identity theft in a spiritual sense.

There are many things that can come along in this life and steal our spiritual identity. Guilt, shame, criticism by others, demands on our time, pride, perfectionism ... the list could go on endlessly.

We can lose our identity to labels thrust upon us by others — underachiever, overachiever, workaholic, liar, thief, traitor, hypocrite and the like.

Our identity can disappear into self-righteousness, an exaggerated sense of our own importance or an unbalanced need to be well thought of by others.

For me, keeping my true identity involves spending daily time in God’s Word and in prayer to Him. Only He knows who He has created me to be. Only His Spirit can balance all the roles, responsibilities and labels that come at me every day.

It’s not because of who I am, but because of who He is, that defines my true identity. Constant contact with Him ensures the signature will match the card holder’s name on the bank card of my faith.

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