I was having a panic attack right there at Costco.
It had been years since my last one. I’d shared about my journey of healing from emotional childhood trauma and learning to rest in God’s love in my book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace. I thought my wounds had healed. But as I was working on my new book proposal, preparing to share more vulnerable stories, I went shopping at Costco one day, and after realizing I had forgotten milk, I turned my cart around to go get it when bam! I came face to face with someone who had hurt me from my past. This person had caused deep wounds, taking me years of therapy to heal. I hadn’t seen this person in years since I had learned to establish safe boundaries to keep myself from being harmed through verbal and emotional abuse.
My eyes locked with this person’s, and though I’d wondered if this person would ever soften, what I saw before me made me afraid. My heart rate jumped, pounding like a jack hammer against my chest. I didn’t want to stand there to be hurt again, so I made a beeline and zipped to the back of the store. I am a college-educated, grown mom of two boys. Yet, I hid behind the store shelves. I started having trouble breathing. I was dizzy and nauseous, choking and unable to take full breaths. My body lit on fire, tears pushing from deep.
As I stood there, afraid this person was searching for me in the store to chew me out, I felt God whisper, You are my beloved. You don’t have to hide. You are my daughter.
I didn’t want to call my husband Eric at work because he had critical deadlines, so I decided to find the store manager.
I found Mike.
I was shaky, trembling, and asked, “Hi, this is a weird request, but I need help. I ran into someone from my past who emotionally hurt me, and I’m scared they’ll cause a scene. Maybe they’re waiting for me outside to yell at me. Can you escort me to my car?”
“I won’t let this person hurt you. You are safe. I will help you.” Mike said.
You are safe.
At the sound of these three words, I started crying out of his kindness. God was reassuring me through Mike’s words. ”I’m so embarrassed,” I confessed.
“Don’t be. You’re not the only one who runs into people here who need support. Exes, family members . . . people.” he replied.
Mike looked at me and said, ”I won’t let them hurt you.”
As we left the store, Mike kept reassuring me, saying, “It’s going to be okay,” as he walked me to my car and loaded my groceries in the trunk.
Relieved to know I was safe, I turned to him to share a little more about my story of emotional hurt and healing. I shared how much his kindness and his words meant to me, so he would understand the significance when I said, “You are God’s blessing to me today. Thank you so much, Mike!”
I took a moment to ask him about his thoughts on faith. We chatted a bit. I listened. It turned out that I encouraged Mike too, because he felt so encouraged to know God was using him to bless others.
Friend, I share this story with you to encourage you today. I want you to know that you are worth loving. You can ask for help and draw boundary lines with toxic people. God desires to restore your wholeness and to heal you from your wounds. Sometimes, this will happen through the people He places in your life, so take a step of faith when they cross your path. Be open and receive.
And when you can offer the same kindness to another, pause and be present. Be a refuge and shelter so others can experience God’s comfort.
We are not alone in this journey of life. We are God’s beloved, and we do not need to be afraid.
For I am with you and no one will attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.
Acts 18:10 (NIV)