Last week, our four year old was taken from our front yard by a mentally unstable man, who had just stabbed one of my neighbors. As you can imagine, moments of sheer terror ensued and a parent’s “worst nightmare” was our reality. Calling your child’s name at the top of your lungs, while simultaneously wanting to drop to the ground because you can barely breathe, is a feeling I’ll never forget. I immediately began thinking that if we didn’t find her quickly, we’d probably never see her again.
In God’s absolute grace, our daughter, Gracie, was quickly brought back to us, physically unharmed. As days have gone by since the incident occurred, however, we are beginning to see the emotional toll this has taken on her and our entire family.
I’ve been asked so many times since the incident, “How are you doing with everything?” and my answer changes continually. Initially, there was just shock; pure and utter disbelief, evidenced by anxious moments that felt as though adrenaline would pour out of every orifice in my body. In those moments, God would remind me of his nearness. Every.single.time. Not for one moment of this ordeal have I felt abandoned by the Lord. These trials he allows in our lives are not always understood, but we can recognize God’s hand in them. Isaiah 26:3-4 says, You will keep in perfect peace him whose heart is steadfast because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the rock eternal! These words are like healing balm to my anxious heart. And I play them like a cd on repeat in my brain, praying for God’s peace when fear wants to claim its space.
Another moment, I feel so sad that such a violation occurred in my own front yard. “Stay close to me, Mommy. I don’t want to get taken again”, I heard the other day as we walked out the front door to ride bikes and scooters in our cul-de-sac; a place we’ve always felt nothing but safe in. My heart broke when she said those words, because now I know that when she steps out the door she’s thinking about him and she’s terrified he will grab her again. As a mother, you want to say, “Don’t worry honey, that won’t happen again.” But you can’t. So, like our friend and counselor guided us, we must not say things that we can’t actually control, so, I tried to hide my tears, then hugged her and said, “Don’t worry honey, Mommy is right here with you.”
I’ve told several friends that I believe that safety is just an illusion. Sure, we can lock our doors and even get a security system so we sleep better at night. But, I truly believe that nothing happens to us that isn’t first, filtered through God hands. Years ago, as my husband and I struggled through a significant diagnosis, we searched the scripture and found Job, who too, was being tested. This past year has been so difficult, I don’t know how else to describe it. At times we want to just blame evil for all of our misfortune, but in reality, God is on his throne giving permission, because we belong to Him. I don’t say those words lightly. I believe that I say them through a heart that has experienced great pain and simultaneous comfort from the Lord.
As I woke this past week aching over the way this has affected our family, Psalm 34:18 began running through my mind. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Isn’t it like the Lord to comfort us with the words our souls most need to hear? I knew in that moment that He was reminding me again of his nearness as I grieve-and it’s ok to grieve. It’s been a hard couple of weeks. I see panic in every one of us if for a split second we can’t find one another-even in our house. My husband and I both admit to how vulnerable and helpless we feel and our children have been piling in the same bed to sleep every night. I have chest pains when I think about what happened and I cry spontaneously. It’s hard. It occupies most of my thoughts and we all are trying to process this trauma.
More than anything though, we feel overwhelmed with God’s graciousness to us.
There’s just no other word that encompasses what happened here.