Grace, Hope, parenting, Uncategorized

Rude Interruptions

“Roy. Someone just rang the doorbell.”

I was startled awake about 3:15 last Thursday morning. Our doorbell rarely rings, even during the day. Most people knock and just let themselves into the house. So to be awakened from a deep sleep in the middle of the night was very disconcerting.

Roy stumbled out of bed and headed to the door as I stayed tucked safely in our room. He quickly returned to the bedroom.

“It’s the police,” he said.

My heart sank. The police don’t show up at your door with good news. The police don’t awaken you in the middle of the night with good news. I knew my younger two kids were safely tucked into their beds sound asleep, so my mind immediately went to my oldest who is away at college. What happened to him? I had just seen him that morning at his surgical follow-up, but I hadn’t talked to him since noon. Something bad must have happened.

I jumped out of bed and made myself presentable before rushing to the front door. Roy had stepped outside with the officer. I began listening through the door, trying to brace for what was to come.

But the conversation wasn’t about Blake. I began to make out pieces of the conversation, a conversation focusing on my younger son. I opened the door and began to listen more closely.

A car had been stolen from a nearby neighborhood, and the thieves had ditched the car around the corner from our house. The police were hot on their trail, chasing them on foot through the neighborhood. The wet grass had provided an easy way to trail them…until they decided to hit the concrete and the police lost them.

In the course of the “investigation,” the officers asked the girl whose car was stolen if she knew anyone who lives in our neighborhood. Now, you have to understand we live in a small town where everyone knows everyone. I guarantee every kid in the high school knows at least one kid who lives in our neighborhood…just as every kid in the high school knows at least one kid in each of the surrounding neighborhoods.

“Cole lives in that addition,” she said innocently. “But he would never…”

The officers left before she could finish her statement, before she could say he would never steal a car. The officers were so intent on catching the thieves, they jumped on the lead and came straight to our house to see if Cole was in his bed sleeping…or if he was the mysterious thief they were chasing through the neighborhood.

I knew Cole was in bed asleep. I knew he had been at the house most of the evening. I knew he had left to feed his sheep but had returned at 9:40 and gone straight to bed. But, to defend my son and prove the police were looking in the wrong place, I grabbed my phone and headed to his bedroom. Sure enough, he was sound asleep, his phone next to his head softly playing music. He didn’t even flinch when I opened his door to check on him. I could barely hear the soft sounds of his breathing.

I went back to the front door, to our unwelcome visitors.

“He’s sound asleep in his bed,” I said. “And his phone hasn’t left the house since 9:41 pm,” I added as I showed them the app that gives me his whereabouts at any given time. “And furthermore, he’s the president of the FFA and a straight A student. He’s not the type of kid who would steal a car.”

My fear and dread had given way to anger and disbelief that the police—that anyone—would dare wake us up and accuse my son of stealing a car. Sure. He’s an ornery teenage boy. He has his moments of irresponsibility and lapses in judgement.

But stealing a car?

I’ve spent more than enough time thinking (maybe fuming) about our little incident with the police. I’ve wondered how they could jump so quickly into suspecting my son, simply because he lived in the neighborhood. And, honestly, I’ve wondered why anyone would ditch a stolen car down the road from his/her house. If that were the case, the thieves would belong in the category of world’s dumbest criminals.

But I’ve found myself wondering how often we are just like the police. How many times do we jump to conclusions before investigating the full story? How many times do we assume someone is guilty just because of their acquaintances, their whereabouts? Or, how often do we—even unintentionally—point the finger at someone because we are less than cautious about our words?

As we’ve begun to recover from this little unexpected interruption in our lives, I’m looking at my own life. I’m wondering how often I’m just like those cops, jumping to conclusions without knowing the full story. So today, I commit to…

Listen to the full story. If the officers had taken their time, they would have heard the girl tell them that my son would not steal her car, that he’s not that kind of kid. I know. They were in the heat of the moment, with officers literally in a foot chase throughout our neighborhood. I know time was of the essence. I know in our small town, it was probably a really big, heart-pounding event to be chasing suspects on foot in the middle of the night.

But let’s not forget that we are dealing with people’s lives. We are handling reputations, which can be a fragile thing in this day of social media and instant access to the world. Let’s remember there might be more to the story, another side that needs to be heard. Let’s take our time and extend grace and love and show patience in forming our opinions.

Know a person’s character. My kids are not perfect. I’ve probably made a lot of mistakes in raising them, but my primary goal has always been to raise kids with character and integrity. They might not have the cleanest room. They might wear some interesting combinations of clothes. But, I hope I’ve instilled in them character. Integrity. Honesty. Love for God and love for others.

If the officers had known my son’s character—or even taken the time to listen to the girl—they would have never even bothered us that night. Character is a huge part of our reputation. It’s a huge part of keeping us undefiled by this world.

I want to make sure I always spend enough time getting to know someone that I can see their character, that I can truly know who they are at the heart level. I always want to make sure I live my life above reproach so my integrity will shine through in all I say and do.

Watch my words. Our words can have a tremendous impact on others. We need to make sure we use them wisely, always being aware of how our words can tear down or build up others.

Scripture tells us to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25), to let no course jesting or obscenities come from our mouths (Ephesians 5:4). It tells us to think on things that are lovely and noble and true and right (Philippians 4:8) because our mouths speak out of the overflow of our hearts (Luke 6:45). If our words are not pure and loving, we need to check our hearts and see what we are feeding our minds.

I’m thankful my son does have a good reputation, that he’s a young man of character and integrity. I’m also thankful that multiple neighbors have video footage of a woman running through their yards at 3:00 in the morning on the night of the theft…and others have video footage of individuals rummaging through their cars.

What a crazy life we sometimes live. I just want to make sure I am always living it God’s way.

6 thoughts on “Rude Interruptions”

  1. Rude Interruption or Required Inconvenience? Hi Dena, please allow me to say I follow/read your articles on a regular basis and have been deeply inspired and encouraged by them, as they are always truth spoken with grace. However, I found this article to be unkind and uninformed. You see, I am proudly from a police family. I was married to a police officer for 35+ years and my 30ish son is currently a police officer. Please allow me to say, from what was gathered from the info. in this article, I don’t believe the officers in any way were attacking Cole’s character or that of your family. Yes, YOU know as do many others that Cole is a young man of character, however, the police have no way of knowing or confirming that, especially when a crime is involved. Ideally, it would be nice if we lived in a world where exceptional character spoke for itself and deemed all who posses it incapable of doing harm, where deals were still closed with a handshake and worth of a person’s word.

    I am sorry you and your family were startled awake during the night, as I know from experience how upsetting that can be. It seems unfair to ‘blame’ the officers for making a rude interruption with no apparent reason for doing so.

    Being part of a police family is a daily walk of faith and trust as our loved ones head to work literally willing to lay down their life to protect a perfect stranger. However it is a walk we willingly take along-side those whose ministry it is to serve. Being a police family also provides details about every day happenings that don’t make the news, things that would cause many to cringe! Everything from folks shooting up heroin in a McDonald’s bathroom stall to shootings at a local WalMart from a drug deal gone wrong to mini meth-labs in backpacks found near an elementary school.

    I feel assured that the officers who came to your door were simply doing their job. A stolen car is a crime in itself and nearly always accompanied by many other crimes, i.e. robberies, drugs, kidnapping, etc. We have no way knowing how the officers received the call, perhaps it was a car involved in an armed robbery, domestic violence, etc. Officers have a heightened awareness of how to respond to a call via the information received from dispatchers. Also, once they found the car the apparent driver/passengers fled the scene, strike #2. A foot chase in the dark is always more dangerous for everyone involved, the police as well as suspects. Yes, it is a ‘heart-pounding’ experience as it should be since innocent folks don’t flee the scene, may be armed and dangerous, have intent to break into a home for cover, etc.

    Even if the officers had ‘finished listening’ to the young lady who provided Cole’s name, they still
    would have been required by law to follow-up on said lead! It’s not that they didn’t listen and/or believe the young lady. Officers are required to check every lead, no matter how insignificant they seem. To me, it was thoughtful of the officers to accept your photo of Cole sleeping and the info. on the phone app. as confirmation that he wasn’t involved. They could have gone as far as asking for Cole to be awakened, come down stairs for questioning and to see proof of ID, which did not happen. If only I had the time and space to share the calls my husband and son have been on where the suspect was hiding in their bed, fully clothed (including shoes) with family members pledging they had been there all night. The trust given to you and your husband by the police as to Cole’s whereabouts, etc. was actually thoughtful and respectful to their credit.

    I’m grateful there is video evidence of a woman running thru the neighborhood at 3 a.m. as well as footage of others snooping in cars, etc. It confirms not only your son’s innocence but that of suspicious and dangerous activity happening on your street while all were sleeping. Another confirmation, if I may, that the police were doing their job of protecting and serving. Hopefully, the suspects will be apprehended and unable to do further harm.

    On the comedic side, YES, CRIMINALS ARE DUMB!!! lol You’d be surprised at the times my husband/son have been called to a report of a stolen car, when in actuality the ‘victim’ was out joyriding, etc. in their car, wrecked it, and got a ride home to call and report their car stolen so insurance would pay for damage and their driving record would be unaffected! Those who steal cars aren’t usually picky as to where the car is dumped, especially when being pursued by police.

    My son sees being a police officer as a ministry God has called him to and goes above and beyond the call of duty to serve others, i.e. buying gas for those with no money, paying for a motel room for a person with dementia to be safe in while waiting for their family to come and pick them up, buying meals/food for homeless folks, etc. as well as the majority of all other officers I have known during the 30+ years of being a police family.

    It goes without saying that no officer enjoys waking folks in the middle of the night, chasing suspects in the dark, and/or following up on leads that may be perfectly innocent. However, in order to keep folks safe the job often requires they perform those duties.

    Please know, the police officers who ‘rudely interrupted’ your family are the very same officers who would willingly give their lives should your family ever be in such danger that would demand that. Having said that, I sincerely ask, was their motive that night to ‘rudely interrupt’ or to follow through with a ‘required inconvenience’ in order to perform their job?

    Thanks for allowing me to share. Rest assured your articles will continue to be enjoyed, your wisdom savored and encouragement gratefully received!

    Blessings and prayers to you and your family!

    1. Let me say that I am 100% supportive of LEO. My brother-in-law is a LEO in the neighboring county, and he agreed that in this situation they handled it very wrong. We live in a small town where the police are not well-trained. Their biggest thrill is sitting on the corner waiting for someone to roll a stop sign. My BIL, who has served on the swat team for a major city, said there was NO reason to come question him. The only evidence/suspicion they had was that he knew the girl (small town…as I said, every kid knows someone in our neighborhood). My BIL actually said I should report them to the investigator for their actions.

      I appreciate your family and their service. I pray protection over them as they put their lives on the line. Every situation is different. In this situation, they jumped to a conclusion without any investigation.

      1. With all due respect, I’m still at a loss as to what conclusion the officers jumped to? Could you please explain as it doesn’t seem clear from the blog, other than their ringing the doorbell to see if your son was home. It feels disrespectful to address them as “not well trained” . If they indeed are not well trained, doesn’t that place THEM at the most risk of danger, and why should that be accepted by citizens of the town? “Their biggest thrill” is condescending at the very least especially from a believer in Christ. I’m wondering if their work/presence in the community is so shoddy perhaps those who are in genuine danger in the future should defend themselves and not bother to call 911.

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