The nation observed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Day of Service this past Monday. This time of year also brings MLK weekend sports tournaments around the country. For us, it was volleyball in Richmond, Virginia, which is a little over 4 hours away. Without going into too much detail, my plans were changed at the last minute and I had to drive Kassadi down to her tournament myself.
All week there had been reports of an impending snow storm – you know the doom and gloom that weather forecasters love to predict at the slightest hint of snow. I had to intentionally keep my mind in check and not let fear run amok as driving in the snow causes me great stress.
Before I left, I was declaring over and speaking to the weather, and I maintained my peace, even as our governor declared a state of emergency and our church rescheduled service in anticipation of inclement weather.
Thankfully there was no storm, and our trip was smooth and uneventful going down and coming back up. But it did bring to mind a similar situation that happened a year earlier, also on the MLK holiday weekend.
Last year Kennedi experienced a concussion from a volleyball hit to her head the week of the girls’ MLK tournament. I had to change plans as she could no longer travel with us. Like this year, it was just Kass and me, heading off to an MLK tournament in York, PA. We left later than originally planned, so it was pretty dark by the time we started our journey.
I had traveled to York a number of times over the years and knew the general direction I should have headed in, but my navigation app had me going a route that was unfamiliar. Instead of crossing the state line right into Pennsylvania and heading West to York, I was routed through Delaware and Maryland, and back up to Pennsylvania. And as soon as I got off the highway and onto the country roads, this is when “The Trip Straight Out of a Horror Movie” (as I now jokingly call it) began.
I literally could have been on location shooting a major Hollywood horror flick that night. Directors pay good money to create the scene that I experienced. First the fog started, as the weather was warming up after a week of cold temperatures. That wasn’t too bad at first, and after observing it, Kass was soon off to sleep. I put some Praise and Worship music on to sing along with, so that I would stay alert for the 2nd hour of my trip.
Soon, I noticed the road became tighter, and there was no space between the street and the drop off the edge of the road. It looked like if I went off the path, I would have veered down into a cliff. So, I gripped my wheel tighter and slowed down.
There were no more street lights and I was driving in pitch black. Next came the forest of burned out trees on my left. That sight, along with the continued fog was so eerie. Then the road got bumpy, and the entire car was shaking as I was driving. It was as if my car was driving over bodies; my heart was pounding so hard that it could have jumped out of my chest.
I glanced in the rearview mirror, thankful that Kass was still sleep. I was having a hard-enough time maintaining my composure, and I could hardly imagine how she would have reacted if she had been awake.
I was in Flight mode, as my vital statistics were definitely elevated. I was experiencing the adrenaline rush that comes when your body feels endangered and threatened. I repeated today’s Play Prediction over and over – God you are with me, I will not fear.
Heart continuing to pound and palms sweaty, I started taking deep breaths to calm my mind and body down. I turned the music up trying to drown out my thoughts. It was all I could do, I never thought to call anyone the entire time, I just wanted to stay connected to God. I KNEW He was with me, but I had seen enough horror movies similar to the scenery I was driving in, and I was fighting off the fear with everything in me.
Just when I thought I had myself together, the road took me to a one-lane rickety bridge that I had to make a left turn to get across. I continued struggling internally, trying to fight off fear, while feeling absolutely terrified. I am not exaggerating here – as I drove across it, I was fully expecting a Loch Ness Monster-ish creature to rise out of that fog and mist-covered water. It’s a funny thought now, but if something had come out of the water that night, I honestly would not have been shocked! Even though I know Nessie doesn’t exist, our minds can have us believing certain situations or outcomes that aren’t even possible.
By the time the car with the bright headlights started tailing me and seemed to be following my every turn for about 10 minutes, I was mentally exhausted but remained on heightened alert, believing my life was still in danger. I anxiously kept glancing out of my rear-view mirror, wondering who was in that car, why they were following me, and what they were planning to do. When it turned off a different way and I saw the bright lights of a town in the distance, I finally breathed a sigh of relief. By the time we arrived at the hotel, I still had not fully calmed down from the experience.
I often wonder how that road looks in the daylight. I’m sure if I took that route on a beautiful sunny day, it would have been a much difference experience. How many times has our enemy worked to create a terrifying scenario in our minds to paralyze us in fear? Only to have us look back at our past, realizing that we worked ourselves up for nothing?
If you are living in fear concerning any situation, I encourage you today – things are not always what they seem. Our enemy loves to play mind games with us, causing us to react based out of fear, often taking us off the path God has designed for us.
I’m going to travel down that road again one day. I must see for myself what had me so scared in the shadows of the night. I know I will laugh and be reminded once again that no matter what my perception may be, that God is always with me.
How many times have fictionalized things you’ve read or seen on TV affected our thinking or decision-making? How can that be avoided in the future?
What unknown outcome has you fearful today?
Do you believe God is with you, to provide peace, protection, and comfort? How does that change your thoughts on the situation now?
Feel free to share your response in the comments section…