Life’s Lessons


Fear, abject terror can motivate or paralyze

I’ve been in both situations – either motivated or paralyzed. This time, I was paralyzed.

I was a sophomore at BGSU and living off campus.

It’s been a while, so some details of that housing are not clear anymore, but there were five or six of us in the house. Most of them had been rooming together previously. I was the newcomer, and and never became a member of the inside group. We spoke and were civil but never got to know each other.

This house was a duplex, of sorts, with the landlord and his wife living on one side and students on the other. Access was separate. Now, this was before cell phones had even been thought of, and if we needed the telephone it was on the kitchen wall in their half of the house. A door connected the two sides and we were free to enter as needed to use the phone.

The landlord and his wife were usually at home, and they had a yappy little dog who was only somewhat friendly. He was fine when his people were in sight; otherwise, not!

One evening I went over to use the phone and didn’t realize the people were not at home. My quiet walk to the phone took me past the doorway into the rest of the living quarters. Apparently, I surprised the dog. And he definitely surprised me!

It was a small dog but could look and sound every bit as vicious as a big one.

As I began to dial that scrap of canine took offense to my being in the house. He took up his defense in the dining room, what I recall to have been only six to eight feet away from me. One good leap would have covered the distance.

His total focus was on me! He assumed a very threatening stance and announced his demands vocally, loudly, and authoritatively. There was no misunderstanding this little guy.

What to do?

Quite simply, I knew if I made a move that dog would lunge with all the vigor being displayed and my throat would be his aim!

This is where fear took over! I did not decide to remain at a standstill. No, I don’t believe I could have moved if I tried. I froze in place. I must have breathed but made no other move.

Eventually (how long I have no idea) the standoff ended with the dog quietly retreating to the living room. I did likewise – only I quietly and quickly retreated to the other side of the house.

I always believed being paralyzed by fear saved me that night – from severe dog bites and quite possibly from death, as I don’t know if anyone would have found me in time to help.

I don’t know if I prayed or not. I was not a very mature Christian at the time – still had lots of growing up to do. But someone prayed, I’m sure.

Now when fear takes over, as it sometimes does, at least I know to turn to the One who loved me enough to die for me – Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I hope you know him, too. Even though I think I keep Him pretty busy taking care of me. He still has time and interest for you.

Fear, abject terror can motivate or paralyze