I am really good at scaring people, especially my roommate and my younger sister. Sometimes it is as simple as yelling boo at just the right moment or sneezing too loudly. But me? I am not someone who is easily shaken. I try really hard not to have any reaction when people do “scary” things. Actually, I try to do things scared, it’s sort of my life phrase. I like to overcome, so I try not to be a scared person. But the other night I was scared and I acted scared which isn’t normal for me so in turn I felt more scared.
It was dark and I was in my car, engine running. I was about to reverse out of my parking spot when I saw a man coming from behind my car, he approached my window, and he gave a little knock. Hesitant, I rolled it down just enough so I could hear what he had to say. He was wearing a tie, as if just getting out of an important meeting, and nothing about him necessarily screamed “I am a bad man!” but rather he looked kind of like a typical white guy looking for some help. His car had broken down, lost his wallet or it was stolen, and he was just looking for a few bucks to get some gas to get home. As he was telling me what was going on I got a feeling he wasn’t a safe person. If there is one thing I trust in this world, it is the feelings I get, they have literally saved my life. Even though I wasn’t trusting of this man, I had one dollar in my wallet so I could help. As I went to turn and get my purse I rolled up my window, rude I know but he scared me. I was uncomfortable and felt like the second I turned my head away to grab for my purse in the backseat he was going to reach into my car and hurt me. Maybe it is too many scary movies/Dexter or an overactive imagination but regardless, he made me feel uneasy. We locked eyes as I rolled my window up. His eyes looked confused and hurt. And I am sure mine looked sad and fearful. I cracked the window gave him a dollar, he said thank you, I said good luck, and I watched him walk away.
I know this isn’t much of a story. I am sure this has happened to you too but this story, this man asking for money in a dark parking lot scared me, a self-proclaimed anti-scaredy cat. So what was it, why was this important? Honestly, my reaction made me sad and a little bit embarrassed. Looking back, I don’t think I was in any real danger. I am embarrassed I didn’t do more. If it was the middle of the day, my actions would’ve been different. I would’ve been more generous with my time and resources rather than doing the bare minimum. I am sad because our world is creating us to be weary of strangers, not a new thing in our world but very apparent these days. There are the clowns and this presidential election and children in foster care not being cared for and people being attacked at our schools and in clubs and natural disasters and drought and the list can just go on and on. It is a dangerous path to go down. I find myself at the top of the hill looking down at all the things that could scare me and I could dwell on them, I could react to the terror, to the uncertain times. But here is the point. Jesus asks us to be more. He asks us to not ignore the scary but to embrace the unknown and trust Him. I find myself having to turn my back to this hill of horror, to fix my gaze on Jesus and remember that we serve a big God, He knows what’s best, and He loves us.
I am glad I got scared by this man. He scared me back into reality, we are called to love loud and grand. There is more than enough to be fearful of right now but I hope that you embrace the chaos, grab the hand of your people, and forge ahead. I recently heard Danielle Strickland speak about love and here is what stood out “people in love do extravagant things. People in love do difficult things. People in love do sacrificial things.” Be extravagant even when you feel like you can’t, my people, and if you feel like you failed at loving someone well just try again. Love never fails.