In September, while being an extra on a film set, my brand new phone was stolen. At first, I thought it was misplaced, but it wasn't long until I realized that this wasn't the case. When the reality of being a victim of theft, a feeling of disgust overwhelmed me. My phone being stolen wasn't what bothered me, as I would have gladly surrendered it to someone who needed it. It was the fact that someone felt stealing was their only option to get what they needed. To add insult to injury, the friends I shared company with began to make whispered accusations and started pointing a judgmental fingers at someone based on their ethnic and socio-economic background. To be honest, I think the stereotyping made me more sick than the actual disappearance of my phone.
Yesterday, I encountered the same feeling of being violated. Allow me to set the scene:
I was on my was back from the grocery store, but instead of going straight home, I stopped at a friend's house to drop something off. As I was pulling up, I saw the cars that belonged to my two house mates parked in front of the residence. I enter the house, deliver the goods, and engage is some side splitting conversation. Several minutes later, house mate one's phone rings, but is ignored. Immediately after, house mate two's phone rings and displays the same caller ID, but is subsequently ignored as well. Not 5 seconds after the final ring on house mate 2's phone, my friend's phone rings. She picks up, but discovers that the caller is actually looking for my house mates. On the other line is the alarm company who says:
"There has been a breach in the house."
At first, we all look at each other with confusion and begin to mentally process the situation. If everyone who lives in the house is in the same place, who could have entered the house that didn't know the security code?
My heart sank as a chill ran up my spine.
My house mates and I hop into our cars and drive straight home. I go tearing through the sub division and find myself the first to arrive home. I run to the front door and look through the glass and to my horror, I find the back door wide open. I insert the key, unlock the door, and brace myself for whatever, or whoever decided to let themselves in. I gingerly step into the house, peek into each of the rooms, with both my fists clenched, ready to swing at anything that didn't belong. But after a couple minutes, I see and hear nothing except the pounding of my own heart. I walk towards the back door to look into the backyard.
"Could they still be in the yard?"
Several turns of the head confirms that the only person in the yard was me. Upon this realization, I turn my attention to the door. The combination of the shoe print on the door, an unrecessed dead bolt, a broken door frame and pieces of blinds on the floor, it was obvious that whoever caused the alarm to sound did not have a key, and the only thing they took was our illusion of safety.
Several minutes later, the police arrive, but instead of coming into the house, begin to look around the premises. We later discover that it was not the alarm that made the police arrive as quickly as they did, but a 911 call from our neighbor. If it was not for their awareness, the police would not have received a description of the 3 young men running from the house after the alarm sounded. If it was not for our neighbor, the police would probably not have arrested the 3 suspects that they did.
But the issue that currently haunts me is this: What is to happen to these three young men. One of the suspects in custody is a 17 year old KID. Have the futures of these three been ruined by this stupid mistake? Will the fact that we decided to press charges mean a future of uncertain promise? As a person who lives with the promise of grace and forgiveness from God, how can I extend the same grace and forgiveness to these 3 boys? Is there a redemptive story that can emerge from this unfortunate incident?
I know that I will continue to wrestle with these questions for a long time, and pray that God will impart wisdom to my house mates and I so we can be a reflection of the love and forgiveness that allows us to be called Christ followers. I will also be praying that we will continue to love this neighborhood unconditionally amidst this unfortunate encounter.