This post is for anyone who has ever been afraid of the dark, who has felt like you just can’t breathe.
Strangers Come Inside
The night I became afraid happened when someone broke into our home, and it was then, when I was around six-years-old that I started dreading bedtime.
Before that night, the train rumbled down the tracks next to our driveway like it always had, a click-clack of music that took place next to our home. And the honeysuckle grew like weeds, taking over the fence on the opposite side.
Most days, the laundry waved on the clothes line near the garage which sat at the back of the lot. And the clouds floated across the sky casting moving shadows on the grass.
In other words, life in that white frame house with its front porch and big window was a place where life was safe. A place where I shared a bedroom with my twin sister. A place where the dining room opened into the living room. A place where the screen door in the small room behind the kitchen led to the back yard.
Then one night as the shadows of sunset set in, someone knocked on the door, and used our phone. I don’t know if they were pretending to be lost, I only remember two strangers.
Strangers Come Back
However, that was the last night I would sleep without worrying or without thinking someone was standing at the foot of my bed.
Because the next morning, our family awoke to a broken lock on our back door. And someone had chiseled their way inside, and my daddy’s guns were gone! We had been robbed!
I don’t remember much about the rest of the day, or what happened. But I do remember how my parents believed the strangers were the ones who’d broken into our home and taken out things. And they’d done so right in the bedroom where my parents had slept!
Had they stood and stared at me in the dark, too? Making sure I was sleep? That my sister was sleep? I couldn’t get that image out of my head.
Thus, that night haunted me. I struggled to sleep. To rest. To feel safe. I squirmed and jerked awake. I had nightmares of someone watching me and I hated to go to bed!
The days weren’t long enough, because I feared the sun moving across the sky. To the place where the clacking sounds of fear consumed me.
Daddy is No Stranger
Some three years later, I looked from my bed at a shadow in the hallway. I grabbed my throat, shaking, unable to breathe. Was it a monster who came for more of our things? Goodness, each night was like a replay, a horrible moment that kept me stuck.
But then, the shadow moved into the light. And I saw his face. It was my daddy. He was there. He was near. He was looking in on me. Looking in on my sister.
I suddenly found myself grateful and calm, and I was breathing again. Daddy moved to his room, and never spoke, but it was enough to know that he simply looked in on me.
I found myself yawning and tired, quite sleepy, too. I snuggled under the covers, losing the nightmare to a new dream. A dream with one long sequence of my daddy watching me!
From that day on, I found strength in the night, and regained my love of the smell of the honeysuckle and of chasing cloud shadows in the yard. And when the sun would set, I had a dream to look forward to, that of my daddy who had love in his eyes. Because, not just anyone stops in your doorway to look in on you. To make sure you are safe so you can sleep!
Now, as an adult, I find comfort in this verse, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
… I pray that if you need strength for the new day or for tonight, that you fall into the arms of our Lord, and I pray that he quiets you with his love!