24 Feb Loving the Unlovable
Recently, my little brother had his car broken into and his most valuable possession stolen. What made it even more devastating was this possession wasn’t his property, it was on loan to him by the University here in Southern Oregon.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget his reaction.
My little brother works for me at our screen printing and graphic design company. He has a ridiculously difficult job of making me happy in a detail oriented trade. Honestly, he’s underpaid (most days) and has made major sacrifices to be a part of our company. Most days, I forget he’s my brother during the day, we’re co-workers in the chaotic grind of our production schedule and our relationship Monday through Friday becomes more about business than anything else, so when he left for the day it was business as usual.
So why would an overworked and underpaid younger brother stick around a company that keeps him in a dark room covered in ink most of the day? Probably love, and I think the fumes have maybe given him a co-dependency on the work environment. Also, for consistent work, we’re usually fairly lenient on allowing him follow his passion with music.
As long as I remember him having a personality, he’s always been into music. It’s his identity, it’s a part of who he is and in this case, word on the street is, he’s second to none on the bassoon, a bong-like instrument of bassy proportions. He’s fantastic at it and it’s the biggest part of his life. He’s not a rich man, he doesn’t have a whole lot of possessions and his most valuable possession doesn’t even belong to him, it’s property of SOU.
And in one fell swoop, a stranger broke into his car, crawled through the back where it was concealed, and stole it from his life.
He came back to the shop in a complete panic, hyperventilating and hysterical. My heart fell to my stomach, I thought maybe he got jumped or hit by a car. I was on the far side of the shop and didn’t see him, but only heard his exclamations as I rushed over to see what happened and where the blood is. He finally communicated that his car was broken into and his bassoon is nowhere to be found. (I want to get back to this and the point of my post, but first, I don’t want you distracted with whether or not his bassoon was recovered.) What followed was hours of processes that must take place when your property is stolen; police reports, insurance calls, various phone calls to pawn shops and music stores, and of course prayer. Later, around 6pm, he received a phone call that his bassoon was recovered in a dump after the thief was chased by a music store employee. Order was (relatively) restored. His $15,000 bassoon was back in his possession. Hugs were exchanged, thanks were given, and dinner was eaten together as a family with much thanksgiving.
But I’m left with unresolved emotions.
And while I’m sure my brother no doubt has things going through his mind about his personal property, I still envision my younger brothers’ moment of panic and heartbreak with what was more than likely the most devastating tangible loss of his adult life.
He moved up to Oregon to start a new, better life. I promised my dad I’d look after him and make sure that he’d never go without. I’m his big brother and I saw my little brother get robbed of not just a possession but what would have potentially ruined his relationship with a school that has provided a platform for him to live out his passion. And because my Facebook post had 50+ shares on it, I have absolutely no doubt that this thief has somehow ran across my shared post and still, in his own personal greed and self-preservation, scratched off the serial numbers of that bassoon in an attempt to sell it off for personal gain.
I assume crime is easy when you steal from the faceless. I mean, who is my brother to this guy, anyway? Was he just another mark? Or did he see an opportunity because he doesn’t have an alarm system on his very basic, very standard vehicle and just happened upon his instrument? Whatever it is, this person walked away with literally the one thing that would’ve broken my brothers’ heart.
I want to hate him. When my brother got the call it was recovered, I had every curse word imaginable invading my heart. I was a mix of elation and rage. Relief and revenge. I wanted to find this person and let all my instincts take over for what he did to my brother.
I want to hate him.
But I can’t. Because I am that person. I didn’t rob a car or steal someone’s possessions, but I am dead in my own sin:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:1-3
Who am I but someone who was once unredeemed? Uncalled. Unawakened. How can I hate this person when I know that I was once dead in my trespasses once and by the grace of God, I die daily.
I have new reasons to love because I am so unlovable in my heart of hearts and yet still, I am loved by God. That passage above goes on:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” Ephesians 2:4,5
Oh man… “But God…” is right. I love this thief that tried to ruin my brother’s life because of “But God.” God is rich in mercy and I am His, how can I not extend mercy? God has a great love that he loves us with in our darkest moments, how can I not love the unlovable? I went from death to life, how do I dare curse the dead?
I can’t. I won’t. I love this person because, if God wills it, maybe I can call this person “brother” instead of “thief”…
I think that’s what #LoveRecklessly is about. It’s unquantifiable, unqualifiable, unconventional. Because God’s love is unconditional.
I can see how, if you don’t hold to my faith/worldview that perhaps I’m equating theft with all non-believers, please know my heart, that my intentions are not to shame anyone, but to promote love and even inclusion as my faith is the lens by which I view eternity.