From childhood, I suffered from night time fear, but not of the dark or monsters. Mine was a more sophisticated fear. I was terrified that someone would break into my home and hurt me or my family. My parents were sound sleepers and I was convinced that it was up to me to save us all.
My sleepless nights where every noise seemed to be evidence of a horrific scene about to unfold became even worse when I lived alone. My first year of graduate school, I lived amidst a wife beater, an alcoholic who thought I ought to be counseling him, and a stalker who called me repeatedly and left me notes. Many nights I could barely breathe because the fear was so overpowering. I prayed for God's protection many, many times. After I got married and practiced as a Christian counselor, I asked God for relief from the fear itself.
Having a husband who is a black belt in jujitsu did not stop the fear, in part because he traveled a lot when we were first married. To cope, I had a security alarm put in and used a door brace under my bedroom door handle. Yep, I was completely phobic. I didn't get a dog to deal with my fear, but the fact that I had a little yapper who responded to anyone in the vicinity of our home, added to my feeling of security.
One weekend evening, I was battling a bad cold. We had been invited to a friend's party two hours away and I was fine with my husband going without me. He said he would be staying overnight with them as he often did while traveling for work. After he left, I went through my security routine. I turned off the power for the garage door opener, locked all the doors, and baracaded my bedroom door after I was sure my dog was with me.
In the middle of the night (2 or 3 a.m.), someone knocked on my front door. I had heard on the news once (I am sure all my fear developed from the news!) that robbers will often knock on the door to see if you are home and if you don't answer, they will break in. I wasn't going to let them think no one was home! My dog was barking furiously. I turned on the television and hoped whoever it was would move on.
Unfortunately, the knocking became more insistent. I turned up the volume on the TV. My dog was wild. Then my greatest fear became a reality. I could hear the person trying to break in. I ran to the bathroom, locked the door, picked up the phone and dialed 911. I could barely breathe as I explained to the nice man who answered what was going on. He reassured me an officer was on his way. He asked me where Mr. Wilson was. I told him while I picked up a can of hairspray to use as a weapon.
That's when I heard the most terrifying noise possible. Someone was IN my house. I relayed that information to the nice man and tried not to notice that he sounded frightened, too. He kept speaking to me in a calming voice. I could hear whoever it was rattling my baracaded bedroom door. I was living my nightmare! That's when I heard, "Melanie! It's me!"
I told the nice man that the would-be attacker was my husband. He laughed and I could tell that he was more relieved than I was. I honestly was NOT relieved, but furious at my husband for putting me through the ordeal. He explained that he hadn't been able to get into the house since I shut off the garage door opener. After I cried with relief and laughed at the absurdity of it all, I found that my lifelong fear was gone. All those years, what I was really afraid of was that I wouldn't be able to move if someone broke into my home. Now I know they better look out!
Although an unusual answer to prayer, God used my husband's break-in to take my fear away. Once again, He did for me what I could not do for myself.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)