I recently had a scare. Jogging alone during rush hour one morning, I was followed by a gentleman in a black SUV for nearly a mile before he cut me off in my neighborhood for an unwanted confrontation.
I was quite startled at first, then shocked, then scared, then very anxious. After talking with the police, I learned he lives only a couple blocks from me. So for days, the sound of a car driving down the street, a glimpse of a black SUV, or the sound of an African accent threw me into a panic.
You have likely experienced something similar. Over 15% of women will report a stalking incident in their lifetime, though I believe the majority of women will face at least one unwanted encounter like this and not report it as stalking. For instance, I did report my experience to the police, but it didn’t qualify as stalking per se; one more similar event would, however. My neighbor faced a far more dangerous incident a few months ago but did not report it.
Our fear, shame, and confusion keeps us silent when we need help. I don’t know why we feel that way, but we do. My own feelings of vulnerability and dirt made me hesitant to reach out to my husband during my scary morning. And it’s completely illogical, because there is no reason I shouldn’t have. Emotions aren’t always logical, especially when we are frightened. I did tell him a few hours later, and he was better than understanding. He came home and was just there with me, and it was just what I needed.
I know you understand how I felt — the panic, the griminess, the humiliating fog of fear that covered the sun. My thoughts a jumble of what if and should have clouded the peace and purpose of my day. It was shot. The todo list seemed meaningless. I couldn’t read or write or plan or even hold a conversation. Fear is truly, tangibly paralyzing.
So I took the day to process it, to let myself cry and moan and examine my feelings and exist in each moment the best I could. The best part of the day was the two-hour nap when I had exhausted my tears.
Then I got up the next day, and David reminded me to just go about my routine as usual. So I threw myself into it, minus the running. An ordinary day with ordinary housecleaning, practicing, reading, writing, cooking, and children. Before I knew it, the sun was setting, and I had lived again. The next morning, the panic crept in with the morning light, but I grabbed my notepad, made my list, and had another ordinary day.
And then another.
A week, and another…
I’m nearly a month past, and I don’t think about it every day now. The wound healed in time and prayer, with a large dose of ordinary.
We face anxiety regularly — divorce, financial failure, illness, harassment, wayward children, death. There are so many troubles we face that it is easy to lose perspective. Christ had to ask us, “Isn’t your life more than your food, and your body more than your clothes?” [Matthew 6:25] When we fear, we lose touch with what really matters.
The ordinary matters.
It is the ordinary of life — caring for your loved ones, earning your living, cooking your food, clothing your children — it is that daily routine that binds us to what matters.
Our loved ones matter.
Food, clothing, shelter matters.
Knowing God each moment matters.
A life to glorify the Creator matters.
I don’t know what anxiety you are facing today. I know you matter to God, though. Mourn your loss, reach out for help, pray for healing.
Then live your ordinary life. That makes an extraordinary change in yourself…and in your world.