I was helping the last customers at 5:35. It wasn’t completely unusual to have customers there after hours, but this time I was appreciative to be making a good sale and making someone happy. As I was ringing them up, I heard the bell sound again and cringed. I had been so busy helping the couple that I forgot to turn off the open sign. Maybe they will be quick. The happy customers went out the door and the new customers came to the counter. They paused for a minute before speaking. “Ma’am, we really hate to do this….”
And then– slow motion. I saw the barrel raise up in front of my face. Somehow I saw it coming. I agreed to give him what was in the drawer. As I observed my surroundings for anything I could use to protect myself, I noticed that the other customers had left their purchase on the counter. I began pleading with God to let them come back in… anything to give me a moment to gain my composure. Those minutes seemed like eternity as the two men discussed what they would do with me. I felt helpless and so afraid.
And then I woke up.
Out of a deep sleep and yet wide awake. I sat straight up in the dark, paralyzed with fear. My eyes flitted around and I took in my surroundings to make sure my dream wasn’t any indication of reality. My heart was racing. I continued to sit and ask God what the heck that was. It was very rare for me to have nightmares, and rarer yet for me to remember any details of the dream. It was so vivid that I couldn’t go back to sleep. I questioned if this was a prophecy of some type. I decided I had no options but to get comfy. I wasn’t going back to sleep. As I sat there pondering what all of it meant, I started having the strangest thoughts barrage my mind and enter my heart.
What if this baby isn’t healthy? What if I can’t carry it full-term? What if it grows up with a stupid name? What if I can’t stay home because of finances? And they kept getting weirder: What if our house burns down and all my diapers and wipes get burned up? What will all the sweet people who gifted them to me think? They’ll be so disappointed in my poor stewardship.
Fear is such a finicky thing. You can be fearful and not realize it. The tricky thing about it is that fear manifests itself in so many ways that it’s unpredictable. I thought back to a retreat I had been to a couple weekends prior. I could hear the verse in my head, “The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy….”
That. That was it.
The enemy had been stealing my joy. And I had been unaware of it. I had been giving over parts of my life, one piece at a time, and giving into worry, fear of man, people-pleasing, and control. Sometimes it appeared humble, but usually even that was a sign of pride. As my heart continued to race from the dream, I could feel the anger towards the thief in my nightmare surging through my veins, and it was immediately transferred to my invisible enemy. Boy, had he stolen a lot from me. Correction: Boy, had I GIVEN him a lot of ground. I felt all this worry come bubbling out of me from seemingly nowhere.
As if I could help if my house burned down. The fears seem silly now, irrational. But they were as real as my bated breath in that moment. If the baby dies, where should I donate the gifts? Will my friends be sad they gave them to me at all? I knew I should have waited longer to agree to a shower. Maybe I should cancel the rest of them until the baby is here. Who am I to think that I can carry a baby full term? Who’s to say I’m even capable of that? I don’t feel any movement. I don’t actually know if this kid is alive.
“The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy.” The enemy was stealing my joy! He was killing my hope and my real dreams. He was destroying the faith and trust I had in the Lord to do right by me. I couldn’t even let the Lord work or speak to me because my fears were louder than His voice. The scariest thing was that I didn’t realize they had been undertones in my subconscious for who-knows-how-long. This fear was gulping up faith and doing it behind my back.
I determined right then and there that this was the end. I couldn’t determine my dreams but I could determine my thoughts when I was awake. No more would I let fears run in the background like a silent energy-zapper. I was going to tune in to what my subconscious was saying and nip it in the bud.
I was so grateful that The Lord was gracious enough to show me what was going on and to alert me and warn me. And you know what? My baby might not live and my house may burn down and I may have mold infest all the diapers and wipes and make them all useless. But until those things happen, I’m not going to think about them again. The Lord came to give me abundant life, and to give it to the FULL. But I can’t expect Him to do that in the face of a thief… a thief that I’m voluntarily allowing to coexist with me.
It’s high time he moved out.