Refuse to Allow Fear to Prevent You from Rising

I was stalked on my run tonight. Again.

And it never fails to rattle, infuriate, and bolster me all at once. 

Let's be honest, I am no stranger to danger and unpredictability. I live in a town of a population of 1300, and the terrain upon which I tread is a lot of country roads. Over the course of the four and a half years of my running streak, I have encountered countless skunk, deer that have nearly sideswiped me, two bear, a few foxes, many barking dogs, a fawn that literally licked my leg, and several squirrel, mice, etc. Honestly, during the dark hours of marathon training, I have had to be careful not to trip over deer and raccoon carcasses along the roadside. This is where I live. 

I used to be like my friend Adam Welcome, running the dark streets in the 4 am hour so that I could get my training runs in before the start of the school day. I felt so strong! My only battle was proper nutrition and mental toughness. That's all I needed right?

That all changed last spring when I was on an evening run, and a man in a white car stole my security. Everything changed when he rolled down his window and asked me for a sexual favor. (Censored here for the light of heart.)  In that moment, I felt raw anger, fear, and mortality. 

After that moment?

So much complexity. I realized that day how naive I had been to think I was safe, invincible. Suddenly, a rash of similar but less direct encounters appeared out of the fog of my brain. The early morning run where a white car had sped by me whistling and howling lewd remarks in the 5 a.m. hour on a side road a few months before came spiraling back to me. It wasn't long before the rush of the memory from the same type of vehicle sitting idle in the parking lot at the 5 a.m. hour of an industrial building closed for the day freaked me out enough to run and hide behind a snowbank came back. I broke my glasses that day. 

But, I had naively forgotten all of these related examples. Sped into the rush of my day and the pace of my principal mom life that they melted into the background. Until he was brazen enough to connect with me in words. 

And then the invasive feeling crept along my spine for weeks on my runs. 

Several months hence, I like to think I have won. I have alerted the police with a description. I switched up my routine. Routes. Time. Location. I have even begun completing longer runs again because goodness knows there are only so many paths to take around here, and I am keenly aware of each .20 mile stretch with nothing on either side. I carry my pepper spray. And my phone. I never run with earbuds. I have researched tasers and stun guns. I have recently stopped fearing that this person is stalking my children. My husband. Our home.

Yet, tonight threw me off again. A vehicle sitting idle in an abandoned lot. Pulling out slowly, Creeping behind me. That's all it takes anymore to alert me, and I am very alert. 

But I will still go out tomorrow. Just not at 5:00 a.m. or in the dark. Not for long, marathon training distances any more. The kind I prefer. 

And I will be a little sadder. A little more angry. More cautious. 

But, I will use it. You bet I will use it. 

I couldn't help but tie this running situation to a recent experience I have had in sharing my plans for what God has next for me. Two people have questioned me recently when I shared my business will be amplifying women. They asked, what about men? My response is tempered tonight with a bit of frustration and a lot of empathy. 

"God is calling me to amplify and empower women because we need it. Because there are experiences that women have that are unique to us. Because no matter how much I wanted to believe that there is equity, the fact is that gender dimensions remain a battle. Because 50% of the workforce are women (celebration), yet only 20% are management, and only 4% are highest level leaders. And I understand them. I empathize. I dream for better. And I rise with the purpose in me."

It would be easy to settle. To get a treadmill and adapt to a less fulfilling experience because of the intimidation, fear, or roadblock. Just like it is easier for so many talented and bright women to shrink back from their calling and stay anchored by something in their lives that is holding them back from rising to their own purpose. 

But, I am not called to easy. And I will use my own experiences to empower my sisters with the deepest joy, most fire-filled passion, and with great purpose.

Just as I will lace up tomorrow for day 1,585 and conquer those fears too. I will refuse to allow fear to prevent me from rising with my daily and life purpose. I hope you will too. #LeadwithFaith #RISE #InAWE


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