Tonight was just like any other week night.
My parents and I headed to dinner & then my mom and I made our way to the mall to get a few things before I leave this week.
We were enjoying our shopping, as usual, and found ourselves laughing in a dressing room
deciding if we liked the clothes or not. 
The women that worked there came and knocked on the dressing room door, and said that she needed to speak to us.
I felt it was a little odd, why couldn't she just wait till we came out?
Maybe she thought we were stealing or something, I didn't know.
I looked at my mom and I could tell she had no idea what it was about either.
She preceded to tell us that there had been an armed robbery in the mall not far from where we were and that we were on 'lock down.'
As she called to find out more of what was going on we were informed that no one knew where the suspect was and that he had a gun.

These things only happen in movies right?
Actually it happens everyday, but you never think it's going to be you.
At least I never do.

My anxiety immediately began to sweep over me.
Breathing never felt so difficult to do, and I could hear my heart racing.
Each minute a little more crippling.

As I looked at my mom she gently reminded me that everything was going to be okay and said she was going to go out and see what was going on and that she'd be right back.
Those few minutes that she was out in the store seemed liked some of the slowest minutes of my life.

I sat in the American Eagle dressing room alone, and began to cry and as I felt the fear gripping me. My mind began to race with all the what if's. I text Andrew trying to let him know what was going on and asked some of my friends to pray for us.

Helpless, scared, anxious, and in some ways paralyzed by my fear, I began quoting scripture. 
"When I am afraid I will trust in You."
"Fear not for I am with you."
"You are my refuge, my fortress in times of trouble."

I'm not sure a prayer has ever been so desperate.

Probably one of the scariest moments of my life.
In those few minutes though...
It's like time stopped.
Suddenly the things that are important, truly important, is all that matters.
I began to wonder and think to myself did I tell them I loved them when I ended that conversation?
What was the last thing I said to Andrew before he went to work?
Would my Dad know how I felt about him and how grateful I am for him?

Millions of thoughts.
And crying out to the Lord in fear asking for his protection and presence in that moment was from the deepest place in my heart. 

I was reminded- that the Lord won't take me some place where He isn't.
and that even if the worst possible thing could have happened
I know where I'm going.

This is not something I would ever ask to experience.
And I pray I never have to relive anything close to this.
But who knew that I would experience God's presence in American Eagle tonight in a way I never have before.

I have never been so thankful for his protection over me and my mom and everyone else that was there tonight. And for the peace and reminders through His word that has been planted in my heart....

Maybe the Lord wishes my desperation in prayer and seeking His presence was more like this, and not just in moments where I'm fearful for my life or of something tragic happening.
Maybe the reality check and the reminder of what's truly important was something I needed.

I'm thankful for a God who protects and is near during my moments of fear.

May I be reminded of what I felt tonight when I begin to take things for granted,
and may my prayers and earnestness for the Lord's presence be more this way everyday.

"You are peace, You are peace, when my fear is crippling."



One Comment

  1. I hate to think that you were in that situation!! I'm sure it must have been super scary! I love that you share with us your emotions and faithfulness to trust... it helps us to remember that we are NOT alone... not now... and not EVER! I often think about things that I have read from you or heard your dad or mom speak about when I am in a similiar mindset... and I hope that you know that your words lift me up and encourage me to keep trusting and have faith. Your words help to remind me just how important it is to have a personal relationship with Jesus so that in these types of situations... we aren't just feeling lost... but can reach out and KNOW that we are NOT alone! Sometimes I get in my own way and your words help to give me something to grab onto when I can't see through myself... if that makes any sense at all! I thank you for that, Bethany! You're a wonderful writer and I'm so glad that you share with us!! Thank you! Love you!

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