Together for Our Good

7-15-2012 4-43-33 PM

I favorited that tweet by author Anne Lamott a few months back.  Instinctively I knew I would need this reminder.  The moment is here.  A story needs telling and not everyone, including myself, will be shed in the best light.  But it’s my story, my experience and I think there’s value in sharing.

If there is anything I learned while writing Entangled last year, it’s that your darkest moments shine the brightest when taken out of the shadows.  I’ve had some dark moments over the last week.  May I take them out of the shadows with you?

 

Last Wednesday morning I found out that when we were in Hilton Head doing this, my nephew broke into our house and stole 2 shot guns to pawn for money.

Scott waited overnight Tuesday to tell me because he didn’t want to see me react the way I did—a bursting of tears from the soul.  Violation.  Both of physical property and emotional bond.

The next 36 hours was near torture.

On Wednesday afternoon, we found out there was a 3rd shotgun taken and he admitted to it.

And then minutes later, I found my jewelry missing.  Two necklaces, 5 rings, and a bracelet that Scott gave me while we were dating.  My high school ring.  A wedding set I wore while I was pregnant.  Just as I type this, I remembered two more rings from my childhood missing.  My nephew denied taking them.

Although I knew he had, I began worrying about our safety.  If he truly didn’t take them, who else had been in my house?  When?  How?  What else is gone?  Do we need a security system?

I was experiencing so many emotions.  I was furious that he would do this when we’ve done so much for him.  My personal space felt violated in the worst way.  And I was just sad for him.  He knows better and I want so much more for him than this.

We debated about if and how to charge him.  He’s done this before.  He got arrested for the same thing just a week before we went to Hilton Head and has not been charged for similar acts in the past.  It was salt on wounds that he did this yet again.

We knew he needed some consequences but ultimately know he needs the Lord.  What was the best path for him?  We were solely responsible for his future.  If we pushed, he could sit in prison for 30 years.  Would he find healing there or in an intervention program offered to him?

We talked to the detective on his pending case and got our options. By Thursday evening, my nephew decided to talk to Scott, something he had always denied him in the past.  We just wanted to understand why all the stealing was necessary.  He’d been out of work at times but the amount of money he had gotten was just not necessary for his lifestyle.

While talking to Scott on Friday, he confessed to a prescription drug problem and also to taking my jewelry.

When Scott told me he admitted to taking my jewelry, I’ve never experienced quite so many emotions.  Validation for knowing he had done it.  Hurt that he had done it.  Grief knowing I would never see those meaningful pieces again.  I will never be able to give my girls my high school ring.  I can’t let them wear the heart diamond necklace he gave me on Valentine’s Day.  I don’t even have my own choice of selling them for gold.  Even relief flooded when I knew I didn’t have to worry that someone else had been in my house.

Scott decided, with counsel from many different directions, that charging him was the right way to go. He has an intervention program available to him so, if followed, he will not have extended jail time.

So as we worked Friday night to prepare our yard sale, raising money for orphans, our nephew was being  booked into jail.

Life and death.  I was sacrificing on all accounts.

306519_10151896670745161_132012489_n

C.S. Lewis was right.  Christianity isn’t for the faint of heart.

I had every right to swear my nephew off.  To say I’m done.  Please don’t come near me again. But I know.  I know, I know, I know that Satan is prowling like a lion.  He’s here to steal, kill and destroy.

Scott told me about the jewelry just minutes before I had to go get Emma from camp Friday.  That was supposed to be my most joyous moment of the week.  Satan wanted to steal my joy.

Our last garage sale for orphans was planned and then thwarted the week my grandfather died.  He couldn’t stop this one from happening, but he wanted to steal the joy in this one.

He wants to destroy my nephew’s life.

He wants to steal our family’s joy and unity.

He really wants us to give up on my nephew.

I hate everything Satan wants.

My only weapons against him are not hate and revenge but things like truth and love.

I believe God is a just god and that is why I have no qualms that we charged him.  He ought to pay consequences.  But we can’t let hate take over.  Love covers a multitude of sins.

God is this beautiful balance of justice and mercy, both at full tilt, that I cannot wrap my head around.

I’ve been praying since Wednesday morning that God would give me forgiveness.  I see some family members angry and bitter over things from decades past and I don’t want a life like that.  It’s a miserable life to lead.  Miserable for them and everyone around them.

So Scott, being the leader and general better person than me in a lot of ways, invited my nephew to church this morning.  My first reaction?  I really don’t care to see him and I doubt he shows.  I prayed this morning that God would give me grace.  Grace to a grace killer.  It reminded me of Pete Wilson’s church’s reaction when they expected Westboro church to picket at Cross Point this morning.

It’s easy to gather your possessions and sell them for the orphans in Haiti.  They don’t deserve what they’ve been put through.  But grace to the grace killer?  That’s tough.

I was anxious the whole way to church.  I debated whether I’d even speak to him.  Would it be so bad if I slapped him in the face one good time?

Scott dropped us off at the front of the church and I was wriggling around, trying to help the girls with leftover donuts we were taking in.  When I finally got settled and turned around to go in and looked up, my nephew was standing just 6 feet away.  He was early for church, showered and dressed and looking like he might be expecting a slap in the face.

As if I had no choice in the matter, I walked over and threw my arms around him and said, “I love you.”  He said I love you too and apologized.  I said thank you and that I was glad he was there and he said, “Me too.”  I told him to wait on Scott while he parked and took the kids into church.

The girls had no idea what had just transpired. The people around couldn’t guess what was between the two people that had just hugged in front of the church doors.  Just another Sunday morning greeting.

I cried most of the way through worship with Scott on my left and my nephew on the other side of him and my friend on my right holding my hand, having no clue what had been happening but knowing something was very wrong.

The preacher, not knowing what had transpired, seemed to talk directly to us.  We have to let go of what we feel entitled to for greater things God has planned.  Me, my possessions for my nephew’s future, and my nephew, his lifestyle for his own future.

And then we were asked to have communion—something we only do every few months.

I knew I couldn’t hold hate in my heart and take communion.  I cried and prayed and asked the Lord to help me forgive.  This moment would be the end of my hate.  Not the end of the story, but the end of the hate.  Satan is not going to win this battle.  I took communion with teary eyes but a praising heart.  They played 10,000 Reasons, the same song that had ministered to our family just weeks before during my grandfather’s funeral.

Church ended and my nephew and I exchanged hugs, I love yous and apologies again.  I did so knowing it’s a long road in front of us.  He could, and probably will, hurt us again.  There are probably things from the past he’s done against us we don’t even know about.

But I know this and I want you to know it too.  God is good and he works everything together for our good.  Sometimes he allows us to sacrifice as he did but it’s never without purpose.  In those moments, we have to open our hands from our earthly treasures and the hate in our heart so God can replace them with his good and perfect gifts.   I may never have my earthly treasures but today peace and forgiveness and love and unity wins.

Comments

  1. Kaitlin says:

    Betrayal is one of the worst feelings on the planet. I’ve felt it more times than I’d like to admit. Never, in any of the instances that I have encountered betrayal did I react in the Christian way that you did. This post made me misty, it made me think, and it made me glad that you’re my friend. Thanks for this incredibly honest post.

  2. Amy,
    I know that was probably hard to write and it was hard for me to read knowing the rest of his family may have to read it, but I hope they, and all those reading this,see the big picture of God’s grace and mercy as he trys to work it through our lives. God can and will turn this bad thing into something good if we will only let him.
    Love you,
    Mom

    • The big picture is exactly what I was trying to convey…it’s easy to get caught up in these moments but the bigger picture is what is important.

  3. Oh Amy how hurt you must be. But how strong you are! You are a truly graceful person.

  4. Amy,
    This has got to be one of the hardest decisions to make but you put your faith in knowing that God helped you though what you felt was right. It sounds like you all made the right choices. You are such a great person for doing what you did. Your nephew will thank you even more later when he serves his sentence and see he has to pay for his sins he has done.

  5. Amy, I am so sorry for what you’re going through. Thank you for sharing this though. As soon as I read your opening quote from Anne Lamont, I got that “this might be written just for me” feeling…Recently, I was deeply hurt and betrayed by a close friend who is still unapologetic, believing all sorts of lies about me. I debated hard about whether to ever write about it, and I finally did. Some thoughts by an awesome writer really jump-started my healing, and I submitted a guest post to her about my experience. She accepted it, and I have been worrying about what might happen if my friend, or people who could figure out who it is, read it when it posts. Your words are encouraging.

    Again though, I am so sorry for the hard road you are on. I am praying for peace and the warmth of God’s love to pervade your journey!
    Mandy recently posted…TabernacledMy Profile

  6. Wow. That was so powerful. Praying for your entire family during this difficult time.

    • I know I already said it, but thanks again for you and your church’s display of grace. Your ministry has helped me so many times.

  7. Amy, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through, but it’s truly inspirational and humbling to know you. I look up to you so much for your honesty and your commitment to your faith!

  8. I’ve been praying so hard for you friend – and this was exactly what I’ve prayed for you – that you would be allowed to see the working out for good. While He always works it out for good, sometimes we don’t get to see it this side of heaven and sometimes it’s many years before we see glimpses. I’ve been praying He lets you see at least some the good sooner than later. Have you read Kelly Minter’s The Fitting Room? The chapters about forgiveness really spoke to me. It would be a great book for you at this time. It’s based on Colossians 3:12.
    dani recently posted…Some Splainin to DoMy Profile

    • Thank you for praying. Even though the good is only an idea of good it is enough to see the big picture and know even if the good isn’t right now, the good will be at some point and it’s enough to make it ok. So, thanks for giving me that. I have not read The Fitting Room but I keep seeing Kelly’s name everywhere. Do you have the book I could borrow?

  9. I have it but am leading a group if ladies w it this summer for women’s ministry. I could let you borrow it tom. but I’d need it back by next Monday when we meet (you could easily read it in one or two nights).
    dani recently posted…Some Splainin to DoMy Profile

  10. My family has been robbed by several people. The violation that we felt is something you don’t understand until you go through it. I am glad that you are learning grace, forgiveness and love through out this. I can’t say I have reacted the same way in knowing that someone close to my family has stolen precious things. Thank you for sharing your story! To be honest, I didn’t want to read your post at first. After seeing Heather’s updates on Sadie, I didn’t want my heart to hurt any more today.(Reading about Sadie brought back memories of my family putting down our dog and I am just a blubbering mess this week. :)) But I am glad I did. I always learn something from what you write. Thank you!
    Becky recently posted…ChosenMy Profile

  11. Carolyn says:

    There is no feeling worse than the hurt caused by someone you love. We felt it after my Dad died and his sister and brother-in-law removed items from his house. As it stands now, we have let go of the animosity of knowing that some his valuables were taken but have no relationship with his only surviving relative. You and have have shown amazing grace in your handling of the situation. I’m so proud to able to call you Friend.