I felt like a big girl, driving away in the company car, with the passenger seat empty, the company card in my pocket. I had my map app set to go, and a plan to pass through Seattle early enough to miss the traffic, and the parade, and every other bit of the crazed post-Superbowl frenzy.
It was probably two hours into the drive when my phone started to die and the gas dial began to dip. I stopped at a Starbucks, bummed that I wouldn't make it to Bellingham while the sun was still up. My phone charger barely made the connection to kick start my battery, and when I drove across the intersection to fill up the gas tank, I struggled with the key and the cap for a while. I struggled in the cold, and grew frustrated, wishing frantically that someone else was there with me. I was standing on a foreign street fixated on the sound of five lanes of strangers' cars whizzing past me. I felt inadequate, and helpless, and stupid, and alone.
Anxiety was on the rise...
As the sun set, I neared the exit. And by the time I pulled into the "check-in" lane, the sky was black. Two things, God; I just need two things. First, I hoped, discriminatingly, that there would be a young woman behind the counter to greet me. Instead, I was met by a man. He checked me in as expected, but I couldn't shut down the panic I felt over certain questions like, "One or two?" "One," I replied, regretting my honesty instantly: regretting my fear, as well.
He turned on the heat in my room, showed me the bus stop, pointed me to a parking spot, and offered to help me with my bags. I declined the offer, on the basis that I had only one bag; his daughter, 24, travelled with 3 over-sized suitcases, he said.
The room was warm, clean, empty. I shut the door, and there went the second thing. I was hoping for a chain: no chain. Not even a chair in the room tall enough to wedge between myself and the big bad world. Not even a gun in my suitcase, because I left it at home. And, not even courage. Not an ounce of it. Only a wild imagination plagued by a lifetime of fears, too much CNN, the realities for women across the globe, and the realization that this would be the first night of my life spent alone in a hotel room away from home.
Sometimes, I hate being a girl.
I don't want to dramatize this post. Nothing bad has happened to me, and it's likely I'll drive myself home on Friday night grateful for the opportunity I had to be here. Quickly forgetting the personal trials I faced, yet feeling guilty about how my fears demonized the strangers around me. But, I have to say it again: my fear, however childish, is still rooted in a reality for women everywhere, around the world. And if I can make anything worthy of this moment, I'd ask you to please pray for these women: stolen and abused. Pray for our world. A world in which daughters are not safe, and sons are often feared. Pray that daughters would be brave and smart, despite the world we live in, and pray that sons would grow up to respect women and treat them with sweetness because of the world we live in. That these young men might become generous protectors. Not the bodyguard kind, but the kind who commit themselves to compassion, and who desire freedom from fear for the ones they love.
The kind who are willing to spend most of the night with her, on Facetime, just to make her feel less alone. To help her sleep. To help encourage her to have hope for the morning, even though her fear is irrational. Even though it's time to grow up.
I asked Jesus to join me tonight. To take a seat, please. And I really believe He is with me, but in more ways than one. Because He gave me Eric, too. And while Eric is on the line, working on his computer while I work on mine too, I know that God is up to something. Two posts ago, I found myself repeating these lines from one of my favorite songs: "There was nothing to fear, nothing to doubt." I'm getting there. He's getting me there.
Father, forgive me for my fear. Forgive me that I do not see things Your way. Take fear away from me, and give me Your eyes of wisdom. Your heart. Your strength. Your courage. Your protection. Thank you, again and again, for Eric.