What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fear Hath Torment



I held the moon close last night, it was both a friend and an enemy. I loved it and despised it, held it close and tired to shut it out.

I didn't have a good day yesterday and the happenings of the day invaded my thoughts and stole my sleep away from me.


~~~~

In my life, I try and surround myself with pleasant things. Pleasant people, pleasant children, likeminded women. By doing so, I create for myself and my family, a world that is good and wonderful, kind and optimistic. This treats us well and helps us to feel good and wonderful, but it also makes me forget the reality of life every now and again. The reality that this world is NOT full of kind people-infact, it is a world full of sin and abounding in hate, disrespect and let's not forget-lunacy.

Most often when we are out and about, the children are dressed nicely, I am friendly, and we are met with smiles, compliments or friendly conversations. I tend to give people too much credit and too much trust...so it is that much more surprising when I am reminded that some people are not WORTHY of that trust and that special care STILL needs to be taken to protect onesselves and ones loved ones.

Yesterday my optimism was shattered and that reminder came a bit more forceful than I would have liked.

I won't go into all the details, mainly because all night last night I relived it...and I don't care to again.

Basically, while shopping at Walmart we had sat down at a table in the McDonalds within Walmart to eat our lunches when we were followed and approached by a strong looking, tall black man (between 20 and 30). At first he said, "What lovely children you have." I thanked him kindly and continued on in my tasks.

After I had responded kindly, he took it upon himself to start to suffocate me with his words-his presence. I tried to close the conversation-he asked where my husband was.

He got food and sat at the table right next to us-just an arms distance from my Panda.

Inwardly I groaned, knowing this was going to be a BAD lunchtime.

He listened to my every word and responded-even rushing up to get me ketchup when I told Corynn I was going to get some ketchup.

I said, "Thank you-but no. I would rather get it myself." He became disgruntled that I wouldn't take the ketchup he had gotten me and started getting smart and obnoxious. He asked if he was making me nervous.

I asked him if I might be able to have a peaceful lunch with my children. He got more brazen and mean. Oddly though, one minute he was mean-the next he was telling me what a great mother I was. Almost as if he was schizophrenic or bipolar or something. Knowing that he just wasn't 'right' made me all the more concerned at what he might do-or be capable of. It wasn't long before things had escalated and he began shouting at me.

Andrew and Corynn were so curious-looking at the strange, loud, nasty man. The man spit out "That I had better turn my son's head around" because he didn't want to be gawked at.

I told him that Andrew was a year old.

He threatened that he would hurt him if Andrew looked at him again.

I was literally holding Andrew's head looking toward me, mentally evaluating what I should do.

Should I leave the McDonalds and shop? That wouldn't be wise-he may follow me and then there wouldn't be as many witnesses and employees around.

It would take a lot to pack up the children, my food and belongings and move to another table-and I DIDN'T want to leave my children next to him. Or my purse. For ANY length of time.

If I left the store entirely, he would probably follow me out to my car and who knows WHAT would happen then.

A woman at a table behind me, discreetly left, and sat back down-she met my eyes and smiled a reassuring smile. I saw a Walmart tag around her neck. Still this man was hounding me. Threatening me. I was shaking-that nervous shiverring I do-but trying not to appear scared (for the childrens' sakes as well as not to reveal any weakness on my part).

I told him that if he wasn't going to be leaving, I would be changing my seat-to get away from him.

He got up and said he was leaving...yelling that I was racist. Twisted. All sorts of names and accusations.

I was offended, of course, that he would accuse me of that, but relieved he had left.

My relief was short lived because only a moment later he returned. He got MORE food and sat back down. Started in on me again. I said simply, "I am not a racist. Your color does not offend me at all-it is your lack of social etiquette. Your social skills are overwhelming. You are accusing and you are making what was supposed to be a nice calm lunch into a nightmare. THAT is what offends me. YOU offend me-not your color."

The woman got up again and returned to her seat, telling me she had phoned the manager the first time. This time the manager was on his way and he had called the police, who were also on the way.

When he heard that, he left-but not without shouting on his way out...things about me and my children. About how the trashy white woman (me) OWNS the Walmart and hw self righteous I am to think I can tell him to leave. He disappeared into Walmart.

The manager came to me then and told me that he had been there from 3:00 am (it was 11:30 by now) and that they had found him, police were coming and he wanted me to stay here because the police would want to talk to me.

When the police got there, they found him and escorted him to the front entrance and waited with him while he got a cab. But that awful man-out of two entrances-he chose the one with windows into McDonalds. Not only that, but he chose the only seat on the bench that was positioned where he could see me.

The whole time the guy stared at me-and smirked. Whenever the police were chatting to someone else...he did crude signs and just antagonized me.

It was awful.

We didn't end up leaving the McDonalds until 12:30...almost three hours all in all. Thankfully, I had crayons and pens along with some paper in my diaperbag. That and stories, and ice cream occupied the children so they weren't going insane. I sure was.

~~~~~~~~~

I am so very thankful that the Lord kept us safe throughout that whole ordeal. That man was a lunatic and people who are so imbalanced can do some REALLY stupid, dangerous things.

That man could have taken me if he wanted to. He was certainly larger and stronger.
He could have grabbed Andrew-my baby boy was sitting in a highchair just an arms length away.
He could have had a gun.
He could have had the cab return and found me again after the cops had left.

Who knows what may have happened, but the Lord protected us.

So-from the time that awful man left the Walmart for his cab to this moment now, sitting here as I type, my thoughts have been only on the safety of my family. My mind created nightmares last night-though my eyes were open and sleep elluded me...I could still see so vividly things going even worse than they did.

I will go on expecting the best from people but I will no longer assume the best. This world is full of good AND bad...and the bad is not just on the news. It is all around us. We are not exempt from the dangers wrought by sinful men.

Right now, at this moment, I struggle with my perceptions of people. I don't want to view everyone as dangerous and live my life in fear. On the other hand, I certainly don't want to be so naive as to think my family and I will stay safe if we just mind our own business. I am already struggling with the idea of going back to that particular place without Matt...but I don't want to be paralyzed by fear, either.

Anyway. My mind and heart is wavering a bit today. I don't really know WHAT is the best way to react. Maybe it is lack of sleep. Or maybe it is because my eyes have been opened just a little bit further as to how unsure life here on earth is.

Each moment is planned...but not by me. I am just along for the ride.




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31 comments:

Mrs. Hurzeler said...

Dear Rebecca,
I am so relieved that you and your little ones are safe. I cannot imagine the fear you experienced that day but I think you did as well as one could expect with such a frightening turn of events. Our beloved Lord was watching over you, holding you close. Don't feel bad if you don't feel safe to go into that Walmart without Matt for a couple times, you will need time to heal, but like you said you also can't let it keep you away forever. I will be thinking about you especially today. God Bless. (Again, I am so glad you are safe, you have came to be like a sister to me.)

Teaching Mom said...

I am so sorry you had to experience such a horrible incident Rebecca! Thank God that He protected you and the children from harm. I can only imagine how shaken you must have been. I pray that today you have a blessed day with your children.
Jennifer

Morgan said...

Rebecca,

I am so sorry for you and your children having to go through this. Some days it is hard to get myself to go out into the real world because of things such as this. I remind myself that it is not i who is in control , but HIM and we are to be a light unto the world. It sounds as though you did just that by the way you handled the situation with grace and things you said. Bless you and your family and you are in my prayers.

Michelle said...

Dear Rebecca,

What an awful experience, and I am sorry you had to go through that. :(

I think you are right to expect the best out of people, even though there are some who just won't give it. I know you are still shook up over this, and rightly so, but don't look upon people with fear. However, I will say that you cannot assume that you are safe as long as you mind your own business. You must always be aware of your surroundings-always. (Not meaning to preach-I hope you know that! I have just experienced bad things to make me know this.)

We were down in MD when the "DC Sniper" thing was going on. They were still out and about, yet I needed to go out and get things. That was pretty stressful, but I tried to focus on the fact that the Lord was watching over us.

Praying that you get much needed rest and comfort in the days ahead.

Mandie said...

Oh Honey! How scary! I'm so glad you and the kids are safe! Praise God for that Walmart lady who helped you! Big hugs all around for you guys. Honestly we have a few Walmart around us and I try to get in and out as quickly as possible. One person was actually shot and killed at a Walmart near us (I call it the Ghetto Walmart and I don't go in without Tim). The Walmart I shop at is a little further drive, but it is clean and well lit at night and still I don't like hanging around there...

smilnsigh said...

Dear One, please.... please.... Lose the "every moment is planned" thing. We have to help take care of ourselves. Logic says that. Otherwise, why would parents be necessary? If wise decisions did not have to made by all of us, all the time, why need the acts of parenting, teaching, early learning, etc.?

My take, you should have not allowed his actions to go on, after the first 2 minutes. You enabled his mental illness, by sitting there.

I would not go into such a store again, which has no one overseeing, when a young mother and children are being threatened. Yes, threatened.

There were no McDonald's employees who could hear his behaviour?? No employees to interveen or to call their manager??? This is beyond belief! You should email the top ranks of both WalMart and McDonald's about this.

And ... How can I impress upon you... You m-u-s-t be more careful. If not for yourself, than for your children. There are bad and crazy people in the world. You certainly were harrased by one. It would to very fool hardy to not learn to listen to your 'gut instinct.' And always be ready to protect you and them. Always... Everywhere. Including, at home.

Mari-Nanci

Anonymous said...

I don't see the need to add guilt to the fear she experienced.

Rebecca, the fact that you and your children were unharmed tells me you did absolutely the right thing in this situation. You did not allow him to escaltate to physical violence because you remained calm and you kept your head. Good girl.

alltheposts said...

Oops, I mean escalate and I forgot my name!!

smilnsigh said...

Anonymous or alltheposts.... I love her. And she knows that. I am not adding GUILT to her burden. I am scared to death for her safety and that of her children, if she does not take responsibility for self protection.

And self protection, in today's world, involves not trying to be nice all the time. Not trying to be nice all the time. Got me?

It's called 'street smarts,' and listening to one's gut feeling. And we need it. No Creator is taking care of us 24/7. If that were true, no good people would have accidents, etc. No good people would ever have any bad things happen to them, out in the world or at home.

Mari-Nanci

smilnsigh said...

Anon or alltheposts... how interesting. You do not allow people to find you, when they click on your name's link. You do not allow people to go to your blog, when they click on your name's clickable link.

Unlike most bloggers, who do allow themselves to be found.

How come?

Mari-Nanci

Tracy said...

Oh Rebecca, My heart is pounding, and I am praising the Lord for keeping you all safe. he watches over you and your children every second of the day, and He is good.

I'm so thankful for the woman who kept an eye on the situation, and reacted as she did. I'm impressed that you remained so brave.

Rebecca said...

Thanks everyone-for your sympathy and well wishes. It has been much better today-now that the shock is worn out of me.

I didn't mean to start a debate sharing with you all what happened to me. Only to express my own thoughts and get it out of my system. and perhaps warn people that things like this DO happen to people in real life...or rather, OUR lives.

I respect all of your inputs-and especially your alltheposts...and thank you for returning to post your name! That means alot as that is a big petpeeve of mine...though not nearly as upsetting when the nameless person says NICE things! ;-)

Mari Nanci~ I do know you care about me and I do know where you are coming from so I can understand what you are saying to a point. But I do hope I can be as open with you, knowing that you too understand that I care about you. This is what I wanted to say...

I should be fully aware of my surroundings at all times-that was sort of what I was trying to get out that I have been thinking about. However, I don't think I did anything wrong-I didn't allow his actions to go on and I didn't enable him.

To pack up two children and all of our belongings and our food would have required two trips and I was not willing to leave my children or belongings for any length of time near him. We were already seated and settled before it all even began so I couldn't have known he would be a headcase. As I said before, thankfully, a Walmart lady was taking her lunch at the same time and she stepped up to help me-but there were lots of people around and employees and I felt much safer there than getting up and going through the store where people would be more scattered. He would have followed me and less people means MORE danger. GOing to the car would have been just plain stupid. He could have followed me-jumped, robbed or worse me-or followed my car all the way HOME for all I knew. These are all 'street smarts' and 'gut instincts' that I DID follow.

No-I don't doubt that remaining in a well populated area was the very best to do.

The only thing I COULD do (because being in the situation is MUCH different than talking about the situation) was sit there and try not to egg him on. I wasn't being nice-I told him firmly I wanted to have a peaceful lunch with my children. When he didn't get that the first time I reiterated that BY that I meant I didn't want to have conversations with other people-but that I wanted to talk to my CHILDREN. I wasn't nice, but NEITHER was I going to provoke him.

I will shout from the rooftops that you can't just sit around and hope you won't become a victim ( God did give us BRAINS, after all)-but more loudly will I proclaim that there IS a GOD turning the hands of times and allowing His plan to go forth. The ONLY reason we didn't get hurt was because God didn't want it to be so.

You speak of protecting oneself and street-smarts, but really Mari Nanci-one person doesn't have control over another person, whether you know all the signs or you don't. Your mind can't stop someone from pulling a trigger, or screaming, stabbing, or being raped. You CAN try and avoid getting into those situations-but once you're there, you're there. I cannot stop a person in their tracks just by wishing it.

If I would have seen a shady looking character in MCD's, I wouldn't have gone in. He came in a few minutes behind me.

If the situation would have revealed itself before we had sat down and gotten all the food out and settled, I would have walked away. He smartly waited until I was all "unloaded" and settled in.

Bad things happen to good people, not because there is no God, but because this world is a corrupt one. Because our own sinfulness has gotten us into trouble. NOT because there is no God.

Because-if there was no God, there would be nothing BUT bad.

Well-anyway. I tried to address everything of importance. But I didn't have those signs. Only after I was stuck did it all play out in the way that it did.

I HAVE thought about contacting Walmart. It turns out that the manager decided not to press charges so the man was just ordered off the premises. I would have liked him to be put in the cop car and then a thorough background check done on him before he was let go. Knowing he could have turned the cab around or come back when the police left, made me fearful to go to my car.

Sigh.

I keep thinking myself that I need to be more wary of people-but every time I think that I think to myself.... "So. Anytime you see a black man who is bigger than you, you're gonna be scared?" or "Anytime you see someone in a hooded sweatshirt, you're going to assume the worst?" I despise prejudices and would hate to form my own based on this situation.

Now-I am just struggling to find the middleground. How can I protect myself WITHOUT being foolish enough to form prejudices? How will I tell the 'good' from the 'bad'. The scary part is-you really can't, unless it is blatently obvious. I mean...look at Elizabeth Smart. Her abductor was NORMAL looking (originally, anyway!)an average Joe.

I don't know the answer to these questions...I don't know if I ever will.

But I DO know that I am THANKING God for protecting me and my children, when I couldn't.

Rebecca said...

Ps. Tracy~I wasn't brave. I was shaking in my shoes and as much as I didn't want it to be obvious...anyone with halfway decent eyesight (or hearing) would have read me like a book. My voice was calm...but even IT would quiver every now and again.

I keep thinking....all I tried to stay was SAFE. There were several openings for the gospel (when he called me racist, when he said God bless, when he asked if he made me nervous...) but I wasn't brave enough to say any of those things. I wonder if I will ever be like one of those great people who would proclaim the word of the Lord while being burned on the stake? I feel more guilty about that than anything...

alltheposts said...

Not hiding out or trying to start some kind of comment area war. I have personal and valid reasons for keeping photos of my children private, that's all.

LBP said...

Rebecca,

Bless your heart! I would have been terrified! It sounds like you did exactly the right thing. Who knows what would have happened if you had provoked him.

I too, have been trying to find middle ground, it's very hard. I do find myself becoming prejudice against certain types of people and I hate that I feel that way. But, I am of the "better safe than sorry" school of thought.

Praying you get some peace and sleep today.

Linda

SB said...

Also, keep in mind, if the guy was schizophrenic (and it sounds from your description like he was at least severely mentally ill), his behavior is a combination of effects of the disease and coping mechanism. I know it doesn't help to hear this, but current mental health policy in the US supports getting people out of institutions and jails as quickly as possible. Some of the people this policy affects are not really capable of taking care of themselves or living on their own. Provoking arrest is one way for such people to get the sort of care they need. Because there is nowhere they can go for help, they force people to help them by getting themselves picked up or arrested. They try to get your attention, not because they really mean you ill, but because they are really sick. And people who are really lonely, because they are so strange that no one can stand to be around them, really suffer, and that suffering warps them. So while trying to protect ourselves while in public, we should also pray that these people get help as well, even if we are not able to provide it ourselves.

Christine said...

How scary, dear friend. I am so glad that God gave you wisdom to best handle the situation.

Ellie said...

Oh Rebecca, that was an awful thing you went through, I am so sorry. But, you absolutely did the right thing. Can you imagine if he followed you, or followed you home? You would forever be scared. Or worse. I am sure you will be scared if you go back to that Walmart, and if I were you, I would try to stay clear.

I know he said some hurtful things, especially about being racist. It is entirely possible that HE was racist. It does sound that he has some sort of mental illness or something, and I sure wish they charged him instead of letting him go and encouraging him to try a little harder next time with someone else. I am so glad that the lady helped you out, but a bit ticked that nothing was done sooner, and that no one else helped you out. My mom gets so mad at me, as I do help people out, and I often get into situations where I would have been better off to not get involved.

God was totally with you in that situation, and you never know, you may have had some impact. Despite the fact that you were shaky, you stood your ground for your family, even though you were so scared. Rebecca I am sure he said some awful things, and I am sorry, but know that nothing he said was true, and I am so proud of you for trying to stay calm and for staying safe. I am so glad that God was with you ( and sorry to disagree with the above poster, he IS with us 24/7, there is too much evidence of that in my own life to ever be able to believe otherwise. I am not getting into the bad things happening to good people debate.

As for street smarts, I am almost a black belt in karate, and am trained to react if a situation occurs, but we are taught to react by running away from a situation first, and if we have no way out, then we deal with it as gently as possible if that makes sense. of course, if the other person has a gun, there is little I could do, but being aware of your surroundings and staying where there are people is the best thing to do if something like this happens. You did the right thing Rebecca, though I know in hindsight we always figure out a million different ways we could have reacted or dealt with things.

Okay, this is getting long winded, I am sorry! I am so glad that you are okay Rebecca, and I am praying for a better rest tonight, and for peace for you.

Blessings,
Ellie

Kelli said...

Rebecca, I am so thankful to the Lord that He kept you and your children safe. I feel like catching a plane to your house right now just to give you a hug! I can't imagine how scared you must have been and then to have to stay and talk to the police for so long. Just awful! I will be praying for you, dear friend.
((((Hugs))))

Kelli

Morning said...

So sorry you had such a terrible time. I was brought up in South Africa, at a time when violence was very common, and as a result have always had a slight nervousness of people (mainly men). Ghosts and ghost stories have never bothered me in the slightest -- it's the thought of menacing real people. I guess I am very cautious in where I go and when, and am very nervous alone at night. It is quite debilitating, and friends consider me a 'scaredy cat'. Yet I still think most people are kind and good. I hope you feel the same way.

Mom2fur said...

Oh, Becka, my heart is in my throat! What a horrible ordeal!!! Your mother's instincts to protect your babies were right on. I love your answer to that man, who accused you of being racist. I'm sure it was drugs or mental illness talking, but your calm reply probably helped diffuse a dangerous situation.
One time, I was 'accosted' by two young men in NYC. They didn't really hurt me, just touched me in appropriately. And boy, being a New Yorker, did I give them lip for it! Still, it was a long time before I felt safe. And I didn't have children with me at the time!
It will take you some time to calm down, too. Just give yourself all the time you need. You were never naive to want to live in a loving world. MOST people are good and kind, I believe. Think of that Walmart woman who helped you, and the police who came!
Now, I would be curious to see if Walmart will be on the alert again for this man. I hope they give his picture (they probably have it on surveillance) to all employees to be 'on the lookout' before he pulls this cr*p with anyone else.

Mom2fur said...

BTW, about being paralyzed by fear...that man stole 3 hours of your life! Don't you DARE let him steal one moment more! Get back on the horse today...or at least this weekend...and head right back there. You have every right to shop where you want to shop, and nobody can tell your otherwise!

Anonymous said...

Rebecca, I have been reading your blog for several weeks now and don't think I have commented yet. I just wanted to send some ((((hugs)))) your way today. What a terrifying experience to go thru! So glad that you all were safe in the end. Praying for your peace of mind. What an evil world we live in. Even so come Lord Jesus!

Kimberly

devildogwife said...

Rebecca,

I'm so sorry that you went through all of that. While I would have immediately left, I know you did what you felt was right for yourself and your kiddos at the time. (((hugs))) I tend to be overly cautious due to my hubby's line of work and the classes that he's been through; it's best to try to find a middle ground.

On a different note, the lapbook is from www.liveandlearnpress.com and it's free!

Take care.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca,
I'm so glad you're ok. You did an excellent job in a very stressful situation.. you've got that strength that i so admire in your family. I know how much it hurts to be unjustly accused of prejudice. I thought of two verses to pray about when you feel that nervousness around someone who happens to look like a person you've had a bad experience with:
Galations 3:28-9
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.
I John 5:3-4
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

God's children come from every corner of creation and the faith of all God's people combined overcomes the world.

I love you and I'm so glad you and your babies are ok. I will pray for speedy complete healing.

jessamyn

Mrs. Pharris said...

Oh my dear! I'm so glad our guardian angels never take a coffee break! Our dear Father watches over us continually as well.

Prayers of thanks and for healing.

Carmichael Family said...

Oh Rebecca, what an awful experience!!! My heart just sank as I read this update and imagined how terrible it must have been for you. I am so glad you and the kids are okay! Praise God for protecting you! I'll be keeping you in prayer!

michelle said...

I'm so sorry you had to have an experience like this.

Carrie J said...

I am so sorry this happened to you. I think you handled it well. I imagine that what you are feeling right now is just the after effects of an extremely stressful situation. I had a similarly stressful situation that left me unable to sleep for a week. I would walk the floors at night.
For me this is a reminder that if I see something like this I should offer help if I can. Maybe if someone had stepped up and spoken directly to you or just sat at your table with you it might have diffused the situation some. At least you wouldn't have been alone.
I have had to deal with one mentally ill person that unfortunately we went to church with. She verbally threatened my children. I will say it brought the "mother lion" out in me and I made it perfectly clear what would happen if she came near my kids.
If he had moved physcially toward your children I'm sure it would have done the same for you. It is amazing what we mothers can do when our children are in danger. A very calm and meek woman can become a warrior. I only say this to give you some comfort in your ability to protect them as I'm sure you would.
I think it takes incidents like this one to remind us that we are vunerable and to help us prepare ourselves.
God bless and keep you.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca,
'The Name of the Lord is a strong tower'. When confronted like that, use His Name. Whisper it or say it out loud. I was being sexually harassed by someone, and I started talking about Jesus. The man would never even look at me after that. Any time I'm scared (cluck,cluck) I have whispered, or prayed or said His Name. I highly recommend doing it!
Suzanne

Abigail said...

Once again, so glad you're all safe!