On Theft

Written by David on September 14, 2013

Hopefully this will be a little therapeutic… writing seems to help me process things when I start to feel overwhelmed.

Our church is in Seattle’s International District and ends up being a pretty shady area sometimes. Our church and attendees’ cars have gotten broken into a few times since I’ve been here.

A few months ago, I invited my cousin to visit our church for the first time. He found street parking on an adjacent street and came back ninety minutes later to find his window smashed and the two laptops in his trunk gone.

Today, we were playing basketball at an elementary school playground and one of our friends got his stuff stolen. We chased after them and they jumped into a car and drove off, and we later talked to the police, but things felt mostly hopeless afterwards.

There’s that moment of shock or torment that I can’t get over… when my friend realized what was happening, yelled “Hey! That guy stole my stuff!” and took off after him. Your heart just drops.

[The term “hope in humanity” has been popularized over the past year or two… but if you can’t tell, I don’t quite believe in it.

I’m not trying to villainize anyone either - I think I’m extraordinarily blessed to have turned out the way I have, but at the end of the day, I’m still very much morally depraved.]

My first impulse is that I need to get rid of all of these things I’m attached to. I read Thoreau’s Walden in high school and was pretty influenced by it at the time. Thoreau had moved away from the city to Walden Pond, where he lived away from technology and societal stigmas and just interacted with nature. After reading it, I began to strive for an anti-materialistic lifestyle. I stopped caring that my computer was slow or that my phone was old or that my MP3 player could only store 64 MBs of music.

And I think it’s good to be anti-materialistic to an extent… but there are plenty of non-materialistic things that we also find ourselves attached to, and I don’t think we can just give those things up.

I’m very attached to Suzi as my wife and friend, and I am dismayed at the idea that anything would ever happen to her. There is a clear tension with our relationship and our reality (illustrated well in Spiderman 2). I put myself at great risk by being attached to Suzi, but loving her is something I can’t just give up.

I don’t think destroying or reducing our attachments is the solution to theft or crime or reality. Detaching yourself from all things is perhaps a safer, more risk-free life, but perhaps less of a life in itself. Thinking about fullness of life conjures up imagery of loving relationships and passionate pursuit of what matters - and a lifestyle of detachment cripples both of these.

I do think that there is a better way.

John 10:10 - The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

John 16:33 - In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

The better way is that God hasn’t come to steal and kill and destroy, but to give us true and abundant life. Two things are important to see - that this life is worth living, and that this life cannot be taken away by anything in the world.

Though my possessions be stolen or my life be destroyed or anything happen to Suzi - there is one thing that can never be taken away. I am certain that I have it.