I didn’t realize the deep-seated fear I had of having my house broken into until I got married. I knew I was safety-conscious because I always chose to live in an upper level apartment (my dad’s knees still thank me) where I felt more secure than I did in a bottom level apartment.
Growing up, my dad rarely traveled, and on most occasions he was home with his family about 5 o’clock each day. Since this was my norm, I just thought my husband’s work schedule would be the same when we got married. I was a complete idiot for thinking that.
Wayne was working at a big law firm downtown when we got married. Late nights were very common – there were even times when he would come home the next morning. This schedule didn’t work great for me because I had a fear of sleeping in our house at night by myself. We lived in a very old house that made Freddy Krueger noises in the middle of the night.
I would sleep on the couch under the living room window waiting for him to come home late at night. If you could have seen the vantage point from the street, I’m sure you would have seen a little head pop up under the window about every 20 minutes acting like a 24 hour mall security guard. Awake, but no help if something were to happen.
Over time, my fear got worse.
When Jack was born, Wayne traveled a lot overseas – which meant several nights, if not weeks, away. I would spend the daytime hours at my house and then pack up and head to my parents house to sleep. I had friends who had babies and a husband who traveled a little, and I found out they slept perfectly fine when their husbands were gone. That was such a foreign concept to me.
I was living in a self-imposed prison of fear. We even had interior burglar bars (unreal, I know…) put on our windows with hopes that I could sleep at our house when Wayne was gone. Apparently, that didn’t help much because I still packed up my babies (two at this time) and headed to my parent’s house at night.
Several years later, we moved to a new house and didn’t put burglar bars up this time (yay, me). Wayne still traveled, and I knew I had to get a grip on my fear of being broken into…I couldn’t go on living like that anymore. His travel schedule wasn’t changing, so I had to.
Since no human effort was helping me fall asleep, I scoured my Bible for an applicable verse. I found one that became my mantra before bed every night: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8. I would fall asleep repeating this verse over and over. The psalmist should have added: “Burglar bars didn’t make you sleep any better, did they, O dumb one…”
Boom. The cycle was broken. Memorizing and repeating that Bible verse released the fear in me that I couldn’t release on my own. I laid my head on my pillow late at night with Wayne in Australia for three weeks and slept. I slept as good as my babies who were just down the hall from me. Miraculous.
Good thing the fear cycle was broken, because God was preparing me to handle our home being broken into.
About 10 years ago, I got home from my school carpool routine in the afternoon and let my friend Kim, who was picking Jack up, in the front door. Jack went back in the master bedroom and quickly came in the kitchen and told me something was very wrong in my room. Normally I would have said, “I’ll be there in a minute”, but I could tell by the look on his face I needed to check it out immediately.
I hustled back to my room and saw a surreal scene: the drapes on the French doors were blowing parallel to the floor into the room from the wind, the night stand was knocked over and drawers were haphazardly pulled out from my dresser. I ran out of the room quickly because I feared whomever had done this was hiding in my closet. All I remember as I ran down the hall was hearing my heart beat loudly in my head akin to the drums played in one of my favorite songs by the 80’s band, Duran Duran. Don’t judge.
We later found out that the perp had been burglarizing homes during the day in our area for about a year. He left his DNA through his bloodstained fingerprints that were found on my closet dresser, so the police caught him.
I love (not really) how God used my house to catch the guy they had been searching for for over a year. Like a fool, I had left the key in the french door in my room, so all he had to do was mash his slimy face against the glass to see the key, knock a whole through the glass, which caused him to bleed, unlock the door and he was in. I should have put an invitation on the door right by the key that said, “Welcome any and all intruders!”
The second break-in three years later wasn’t nearly as dramatic – the loser tried to kick in our front door in the middle of the day. He couldn’t get in because we had a reinforced door jamb (safety never takes a vacation!) so he went to a side door that was not reinforced. He kicked it so hard that the door was ripped off the frame. This time we had our security alarm set and it scared him off.
Shockingly, these incidents didn’t derail me like I thought they would. I didn’t go back to my old fear habits.
Thank you, Psalm 4:8.
If you had told me 15 years ago as I laid wide awake at 2 in the morning on the couch under the burglar-barred windows that my future home would be broken into twice, I doubt I would have ever gotten up off that couch. And to know that one of my biggest fears was going to come true and I’d be perfectly fine, I would have told you that you are crazy.
I wonder if anyone reading this has a self-imposed prison they are living in. It might not be fear of something physical, but emotional fear. Fear of the future; fear of what life will look like as an empty nester; fear of the reality of aging parents; fear about anything related to your child.
I have come to learn that we can only do so much to protect ourselves. Yes, set the alarm. Yes, take the stupid key out of the door. Be prepared. Soak up scripture appropriate to the situation for peace that can’t be concocted on your own.
And then rest, and live in freedom.
Off the couch.