Alissa's Timehop app reminded us earlier this week that we were marking two years since the break-ins. The glass pane in our secretary desk stands as a daily reminder, mostly because it's the one thing I haven't fixed yet. Somehow, though, seeing the post brought a flood of emotion that I didn't expect, and that it has taken a few days for me to process.
Two years ago our house was broken into. Twice. In ten days. The first time the burglars got out with a lot of our stuff. The saddest loss was Alissa's wedding rings, which had been sitting on her bedside table while she was out for a run. We chalked it up as a disappointing and personal experience of the brokenness of our city - a place we love and want to invest our lives for the sake of its renewal.
The second break-in less stuff taken. I mean, let's face it, they had already been through once and a church planter's salary doesn't quite allow full replacement in ten days. There was much more damage done, though. Senseless breaking of things in our home to go along with more things stolen. We weren't able to sleep at home the first couple of nights because we couldn't be confident that our home was secured after the damage done to our door on the burglars' entry. The burglars even got keys to our car, and accessed it repeatedly for the few months that followed until we finally replaced it.
The impact of the second was much deeper than the first. Our kids wondered nightly when the bad guys might come back. The slightest noises at night would send be springing to my feet like a jack-in-the-box ready to defend my home and family. The restedness of the summer and excitement for the upcoming Fall season of school, life, and ministry were sapped entirely. What was most surprising was the impact on our neighbors, who rallied around us, many surprised that we would choose to stay.
Two years out, I feel like I have begun to really process the events of those couple of weeks. Here are some of the things on my mind:
- Our city is broken. Every place is, but cities show the brokenness more acutely. Our personal experience has made us all more attuned to the brokenness of this place. This summer has been particularly bad with an increase of violent crime. We see the brokenness on a daily basis, but understanding changes with personal experiences of it.
- Longevity matters. We want to see renewal in this place - for it to be in DC as it is in Heaven. That will only happen through long-term investment and commitment to stay. Our connectedness to our neighbors and this place increases exponentially with each year we are here. If you live in a place that is tough to live in, please work to stay there as long as you can.
- God is sovereign. We had a number of friends and acquaintances give well-intended advice on how to protect ourselves. The reality is that God protected us. No one was hurt, just replaceable stuff. We believe God has put us here at this time for a reason, and have come to trust His sovereignty and love for us all the more.
- Missional opportunity comes in unexpected forms. I would never recommend that people take this strategy to connect with neighbors. Yet, the opportunities for real friendship and connection with our neighbors that resulted are things we would never trade back.
- People really love and care. Our church family, both in DC and across the country, was a massive encouragement to us throughout. So many provided for us tangibly and even financially to help us reset. We are so grateful to so many who rallied for us. We also experienced a level of love and concern from our neighbors that we never could have expected.
- We love our city. It's our ongoing hope and prayer that we will be able to invest our lives into this place for a long time. Our commitment to DC has only intensified over time.
- It really is just stuff. We live in a hopelessly materialistic culture. Our choice to live in a relatively small space in the city places immediate limits on the amount of stuff we can store, and it's really for the better. The break-ins provided a valuable lesson for us, really our whole family, that even our most prized things are still only things. We hold on to stuff more loosely than ever, trusting that Jesus' hold on us can never be broken.