It seems like the past few years, as many other people have, we have had our share of trials. Moving to Panama brought along more challenges and I felt like I was doing ok making my way through them. Our youngest has been struggling with his health, my pregnancy has been a challenge, and while I have felt overwhelmed by it all I was hopeful that "this too shall pass." January came and I was more than excited about my sister and her 3 children visiting from the States. Except things don't ever go as planned. Her 3 wk visit to Panama that I had looked forward to was hampered by loads of sickness and we only got to spend about 1 week together. I was sad and frustrated knowing that I won't likely see them again for nearly 2 years. We said our good byes and a few days later our friends and their 2 children arrived. Our "plan" was to pick them up in Panama City and drive home later that day but complications with Kellan and doctors visits kept us in Panama City for several more days.
We finally arrived home in David and got back in the swing of things with the Comarca and Orphanage. When the weekend arrived we decided to head to my parents beach with our friends for some fun and relaxation. We had a wonderful (holiday) weekend and headed back to our home in David to get back to business. We pulled into the driveway, Nathan went to unlock the door and that is when things just took a horrible turn.
The door was unlocked. The fridge was open, food was thrown on the floor, and immediately as he looked over to the TV cabinet it was evident we had been robbed. The house was completely torn apart and I felt sick trying to think of what could have been taken. It didn't take long to discover that our lock box and our legal documents were all missing. My engagement ring (which ironically I had taken off after being warned to do so to avoid being robbed), ALL of my camera equipment including my 2 professional cameras along with several lenses and accessories, and also most of our other electronics. They dumped out a suitcase and Luke's book bag and must have filled them with things and walked right out.
At first I felt terrified. I panicked. The intruder had gotten in by breaking the bars off the window on the back porch and must have then opened and slid right in the window of the master bedroom. The bedroom that my 3 little boys had slept in the past several months. That night after talking to police, my dad came and stayed at the house while we drove back to my parents to figure out what we wanted to do.
Slowly, as reality sunk in I started feeling very angry. My innocent boys were confused. Luke nervously checked his toys to make sure his bike and his "cozies" (stuffed animals) were all still safe, and Tyler told me to make sure I brought their special bath soap with us incase the robbers came back for it. I just couldn't wrap my mind around it. From the outside of our house, you see our windows adorned with many of the boys pictures and drawings. How could someone empty out the contents of a 4 yr olds back pack and decide to take it anyway? The more I thought about the situation the more angry I became. We had just gone grocery shopping before we left and of course since they left the fridge open our food was all spoiled. I saved my photography money along with additional money for several years to be able to buy my camera and lenses and it was suddenly gone. I had hundreds of photos that I had not yet been able to upload to my computer that are now GONE. My engagement ring that was so incredibly special to me was just GONE. Our marriage certificate, the boys birth certificates, all of our socials--- GONE. It just felt so unfair.
I started feeling upset with God. Why did this happen? We moved here to Panama to try and follow His call and WHY, WHY were we facing yet another challenge? I was angry at the landlord for not being honest with us about previous break-ins. I felt anger towards whoever did this. They not only robbed us of material possessions, but they completely shattered my sense of security and my ability to sleep soundly at night. I also started feeling angry at innocent people. We know that whoever snuck in the window was likely a small teenage boy, so whenever I am out and see a slender teen boy I immediately start feeling anger towards them. They have done nothing, but I assume the worst and my mind pegs them as criminals. Lastly, I feel angry at myself. Why didn't I just leave my ring on? Why didn't I bring my camera? Why didn't I think to keep our documents with us? Why can't I just get over it and move on? Why can't I just let it go?
The other day while driving in the car, one of my favorite songs by Casting Crowns came on and the words hit me like a knife...
"Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who's writing in the sandIt is easy to see a child hungry and want to feed them.
Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
No one knows what we're for only against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingersLet our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours
You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they're the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet"
It is easy to see a child abandoned and to want to rescue them.
It is easy to see a woman struggling to provide for her family and to have compassion.
But it is HARD to see a belligerent teenager and feel love for them.
It is hard to see someone who has hurt you and feel forgiveness.
It is hard to see a murderer and not want justice and revenge.
Sure, I can do the easy things. But what about the hard ones? What about the ones that require me to relinquish my pride and realize that I am not greater than they are? Can I love those who have truly hurt me? Can I be happy for those who prosper at my expense? The truth is, No. I can not. Not on my own strength. So I am putting in a greater effort and begging God to help me. Please pray for me that I am able to overcome this anger I am feeling and to be merciful to all, not just those that are easy to love.
As I was hit with this reality, this song from Matthew West came to mind and I wanted to share this as well...
"It's the hardest thing to give awayI will leave you with this passage that could not speak louder to my heart right now---
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don't deserve
It's the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word...
It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It's always anger's own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It's the whisper in your ear saying 'Set It Free'
Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.- Beckah