What I feared came to pass Sunday night, Father’s Day, when her father was out of town and only her mother was here to deal. Our daughter was accosted by a man in a parking lot near her apartment.
What do parents do when they have raised a young lady to be Christ-like? When they’ve taught her to be kind and polite and to remember that every human being is created in the image of God? And then there are the snakes. The wolves. The predators who don’t care one iota for the well-being of the innocent and haven’t a clue that they’re preying on a young adult with disabilities, especially in the area of problem-solving and making wise judgments. What do you do? You pray a lot and you trust. Even after you’ve done all the teaching and preaching—you pray a lot and you trust.
So, I had a great opportunity to put faith into practice on Father’s Day. Around 8 PM, while it was still light, Anna decided to walk two blocks from her apartment to the grocery store. She lives on her own in a very small town, a throwback to Mayberry where people know one another by name. Surely, she would be safe here.
Being that it was Father’s Day, the grocery in this small town was closed. In search of a bite to eat, Anna walked through the parking lot on her way to the QMart, another block or so down. It was there that she encountered a snake. A young man approached her with forked tongue, flattering her about her beauty and inviting her into his car and then into his apartment. He was looking for one thing. She smiled politely and declined his invitation.
And then he grabbed her.
Right there in the parking lot on Main Street Mayberry!
And she was terrified.
But our little girl, now 21, only 5 feet tall and 90 pounds—she did what we taught her to do. She prayed. She prayed for God to help her know what to do. She pulled back and the snake let go. She started walking, the opposite direction from her apartment, not wanting him to know where she lives. And in the few moments before he approached again, she made a phone call—not to me who she knew was right down the road, but to the first person she could scroll in her phone contacts, a friend of ours. Not answering, Anna left a message, turned to head home, and waited for a call back which came a few minutes later. In the meantime, the man approached Anna again and asked to walk with her. She said yes. A few minutes later, Anna’s phone rang. It was our friend. Anna told the man she needed to take the call. Finally, the snake gave up, slithered away, and left her alone. Alone with her terror. Our friend hopped in her car and drove straight to Anna, keeping her on the line the whole time.
After picking Anna up and driving her to our home, our friend got ahold of me and I came racing home. Living in the country as we do, I had to slam my brakes due to deer running across or standing in the road. My adrenaline was pumping and I could feel my pulse in my head.
I know there are questions right now. Believe me, I’ve already asked them myself and have concluded that these questions come with the territory of loving and caring for a beautiful young lady who often makes decisions that seem strange to others but are perfectly understandable for people with problem-solving and processing challenges, especially when fear is involved. And these are exactly the challenges that have had a stronghold on my heart in the past. Because who wants to send their adult child out into the world full of potential to harm when they have a hard time processing and problem-solving and making good judgments?
This is where faith is tested. When we come to a place where we must rely on someone greater than ourselves, this is the place where we discover how much we really believe—how much we will let ourselves rest because we know we rest in the hand of God.
She said it straight out when I got in the door. Anna had prayed for God to protect her and to help her know what to do. Honestly, I was questioning God on this one because, as her mother, I would have thought the first person she should have called was me. And I felt the pride beast suffer a near-mortal wound. Would I trust God in this moment? Would I be thankful my daughter was safe and that my friend had come to her rescue instead of me? Well . . .
Yes, now. And no, then. Actually, I was spitting mad and cut-through hurt when I learned that all this had transpired without me. Can you imagine the questions and comments running through my mind? I was at war alright. Warring inside my own head, it was anything but civil. So as I was saying thanks for my daughter’s safety, I was wielding a sword to slay the pride beast inside, trying to trust that God was in control, directing circumstances and laying down whatever rights to which I felt entitled.
After we all settled a bit, our friend left and I called the sheriff who arrived around 11:15 PM. What a blessing! Tall and strong-looking, we were instantly comforted by his presence. Calm and kind, he wrote down every detail of Anna’s incident, dealing gently with our daughter by drawing a map so she could point to where everything occurred and to where the man had indicated he lived. The officer spoke to her about self-defense and the need to be firm. Anna’s big brown doe eyes soaked up every word. Before leaving our home at 11:50 PM, he assured us he would find the man, tell him his solicitation was unwanted and inappropriate, and advise him to keep away from Anna or an arrest would be made.
And then we went to bed, finally. We went to bed thankful for God’s protection.
The next day, the sheriff contacted Anna to let her know he had gone directly to the man’s apartment after leaving our home and talked with him. The man said he had been drinking, that he was married but his wife was in Mexico, and that he didn’t realize that Anna wasn’t interested.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT! . . . .
Yes, some guys are THAT clueless. It’s OK to act as tough as you need!
Actually, that bold second line comes right out of Scripture but Jesus spoke it more eloquently than I. He said, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
Anna told me she had seen a garter snake while walking our trails earlier on Sunday. We talked about how snakes are predators—how they slither and sneak their way through the grass, hunting. We talked about being nice and being firm and sometimes being way stronger than we like to be in order to protect ourselves. But most importantly, we talked about our great God—how he cares for the weakest of us—how He helped Anna in her moment of weakness and prevented something worse from happening. We talked about how this world is not our final destination and how, while we’re here, sometimes bad things happen, but God can use all things to teach and help us grow.
And in the end—at the end of the day—we both realized, once again, that when we’ve done all we can, we can still keep praying and trusting and leaning into our Rock, our Fortress, our Salvation.
Little Anna, all five feet and ninety pounds, makes little cards with Scriptures on them. Because even a little verse can have a big impact. Because even a petite young lady can have an immense faith. Because, after all, we have a great God. And in Him alone, we find rest.