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.
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.