Whispers in the Night Part 2: Conflicts on the Outside, Fears Within
A few days ago I posted Whispers in the Night Part 1: Overcoming Lies With Truth. Here is Part 2 – why all those lies came up in the first place. I thought it was more important to post the truth first.
In the words of Paul in 2 Cor 7 “… this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” (Titus, who provided Paul with comfort because he had been refreshed and comforted by the Corinthian church.)
I am thankful for those moments when someone who has been refreshed by the body can come alongside and provide me with comfort. Paul experienced conflict, most of which is unimaginable to us in our safe and secure lives. He experienced fear. But he also experienced God’s comfort, administered through those he loved.
In the line of work we do, there is conflict on the outside and we experience fear within. It is true. Sometimes the fear is tangible, sometimes it is spiritual.
About two weeks ago, as some of you know, I experienced real physical fear. I was followed into a park by a guy who had already exposed himself (you know what I mean) on the bike path, once I realised he had followed me to a place where I was alone, he said somethings/ insinuated things/motioned to things, that scared me. So I yelled, I biked away really fast, and I called for help.
In the end, it wasn’t so bad, it was scary, but it could have been worse.
But since that point I have had to face the fears within. Those ‘worse things that could have happened’ and those things that have happened in the past, started to re-surface and prey on my mind. Suddenly a lot of emotions I thought I had dealt with, came back to remind me that they are still there.
Anger and fear gripped me. I have been jumpy, I have felt deep anger towards strange men who look at me on the metro. I have had to convince myself that not every man watching me is going to follow me. I have felt so frustrated that my freedom, my sense of safety, my right to bike home, has all been invaded by a stranger with his pants undone.
I filed a police report because I felt afraid that this could happen to another girl, but that it could be worse.
It felt good to be affirmed that reporting him was the right thing to do.
But there have been a lot of thoughts in my head since that Friday; ranging from downplaying my right to be afraid because the girls we work with experience so much worse trauma on a daily basis to frustration that I now feel insecure and sensitive to every male who
looks leers at me while out in public.
But as I posted in part 1, it took a divine encounter while walking in the rain and the words of truth whispered to me in the night to remind me that I am not meant to live in fear, or to dwell on the past, but that God is good, His love is all consuming, and it is His perfect love that drives out fear.
And then I experienced the comfort of those around me. Who prayed good words over me. Who reminded me of my value and identity in Christ. Who let me have my moment of hurt, and then gently led me back to the cross.
I sulked for a few days about how depraved humanity can be, and then I picked myself up, and reminded myself of a few lessons learned:
1 – it is good to be wise and cautious.
2 – it is okay to be hurt and angry.
3 – it is healthy to process the things that we fear.
4 – it is not good to let myself slip into old thinking habits that centre around fear.
5 – the truth of God’s word will renew my mind, and will bring comfort and peace in the midst of emotional turmoil.
6 – it is healing to be surrounded by a community of people who God can use to comfort you when the fears within become to much.
7 – I am not quite done being angry, but I am working on it, and that is okay. I am done sulking though, and I will be a lot more aware of my route home in the future.
In telling this story, I’ve realised that almost every woman I talk to has a story of being sexually harassed or assaulted by a stranger. We all have a story, from comments and catcalls to physical violence. Those things are not okay. But I am also reminded that the behaviour of some individuals do not define the entire male race. There are good men out there, and it is not good to be angry with all men because of the actions of some.
And it is okay to get the hell away from the ‘some’ who pose a threat to your well-being or safety!
In the meantime ladies, tips/tricks/thoughts on responding in threatening situations? How do you react to inappropriate behaviour or comments?