So this afternoon, as I was getting the grill ready for supper, a young man behind the lilac bush next to the garage said, "Pssst," getting my attention. Then I heard, "I have a gun, give me your money."
I didn't have any money on me (I had a dollar earlier in the day, but Beth used that to get a coffee while we were out earlier). I seldom carry much if any. I told him such.
He said I should go in the house and get some money for him (which made me suspect he didn't have a gun or experience, as telling me to go in the house would just give me opportunity to lock the doors and call the police, but of course I couldn't be sure if he had a gun or not). I said that I didn't have any money (honestly--all you would find in our house is a bowl of coins and a jar of my foreign currency collection) and (loud enough for Beth to hear it) that my wife was in the garage calling 911 right now. Then I ran into the garage and shut the door where Beth had dialed 911.
I could feel my legs shaking a little as I talked with the dispatcher. We headed back to the house (the boys were in there), knowing that the guy had most likely fled right away--and if not, that we should make sure the boys were safe (which they were). When the police showed up a while later, they said they had searched the area (I had given them a pretty good description, apparently--which surprised me since I'm terrible at remembering descriptions of people) and hadn't found him. He was probably just a local kid (he had to be around 20 give or take a few years) wanting some money--most likely didn't have a gun (I only saw his hand in his jacket).
While I've had people steal from me before (money missing from my wallet while at another school's locker room for high school basketball and CDs from my dorm room in college), I've never been threatened in person by someone claiming to have a gun. It was scary. And I felt a lot of anger.
I don't like being violated. I don't like being threatened. I don't like having to worry about my (or my family's) safety in our own yard.
I know that some would say that this is why we need the second amendment and to not put so many restrictions on gun control. And while there was a brief moment of thinking that if I had a gun, I could have faced the guy and told him not to do something like that again to anyone in the neighborhood, that wouldn't have solved anything. Gun threats would just beget more gun threats. Violence begets violence. And I couldn't live with myself if I had shot someone--even in self defense.
And, while not intending to to sound holier-than-thou and admitting that I violate plenty of commandments, there is something idolatrous about trusting a gun to protect my family instead of trusting God to do it (and I do acknowledge that there are plenty of areas where I don't trust God fully). For me, carrying a gun will never be the answer.
So, I'm left with the fear and anger I feel (which is understandable). While I don't know who the guy was or if I'll ever see him again, I couldn't help but think about Jesus' command to love my enemies. How do you love a guy who threatened to shoot you? I don't know. I don't have the answers. I just have more to life to wrestle with...and I don't necessarily like that, but a lot of the time, faith is just walking and trying to trust God to show the way ahead.
It's not always an easy walk. I need to forgive this guy (which, I can rationalize that he's had a rough life without a father around to teach him to do right and such, but that just causes me to stereotype him). He didn't hurt me or my family, but it's still not easy to forgive someone who has violated your sense of security. And we forgive, not necessarily for the sake of the other person, but for ourselves--to release us from the bondage of bitterness and hatred.
I don't know that all of that will come right away. As I was finishing grilling for supper, I found myself constantly looking around to make sure no one was sneaking up on me. But I'm safe and my family is safe and I have that to be thankful for. I'm going to have to trust that the rest will come.