The Friday before last, in my continued hunt for a car that actually stops on command I arranged to meet a person from craigslist to look at their car. So after I got off work I headed down to the South side of San Antonio to meet up at the South Park Mall. *As a point the further South you go in SA, the worse the neighborhoods get. I typically stay north.*
Once I get there I text to let them know I'm there.
I get a call back saying that a friend of his is bringing the car to me and that the friend is running late. He's going to give his friend my number so that the friend can call me when he's almost there so he can find me.
The friend eventually calls and instantly something inside me clenches up and says "This isn't good... get out."
It's irrational, and I'm not a rude, fleeing person by nature at all. I trust people until you've given me a good reason not to. And even then I might still be gullible. I pick up hitch-hikers for cryin' out loud. I don't assume bad things about people.
So I sit there and he finally arrives. He's said things that don't make sense, but unfortunately when I ask pointed questions instead of answering he apologizes that his English isn't very good. He was white, completely white, so I've been calling him "The Russian" in my mind.
The Russian didn't have the car with him. He indicated that it was somewhere else and we had to go to it. He wanted me to get in his car.
The very moment he even started the sentence, his hand still in midmotion to point at his car, my gut screamed at me, "DO NOT DO IT, LEAVE NOW, DON'T GO A STEP FURTHER".
But again, I hate to be the freak who just says "No, I'm calling everything off now, thanks for driving all the way down here - albiet without the car - but I'm going to run home now in case you're a psycho."
So I tell him that I'm going to take my own car and will follow him.
As I get back in my own car, I'm listening to a gut that is literally screaming at me. I've heard my gut talk before, but I can't say that I ever recall it screaming. Listening to my gut screaming at me, GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!!!! I hesitated and then finally texted my family a description of the man and the car. I even wrote that this was "In case something happened".
Let me just say that in hindsight if you feel enough danger that you want to send a text describing a person "In case something happens", then it's a situation you should probably get out of. Even if it means you're rude.
We drive about 2 miles down the city streets and ever worsening neighborhoods. He finally pulls in to a car lot. He appears to unlock a gate, but cannot open the gate very much. We boths squeeze our bodies through the small opening.
So now I'm inside a car lot, not able to get out quickly because the gate isn't open. To say I feel trapped is putting it mildly. I'm literally trembling. Shaking with adrenaline (I wasn't shaking with fear, I'll get to that in a moment.) The Russian points at a car in the lot that is impossible to move because it's surrounded by other cars. It's so tightly packed in that you can't even walk around the car. He announces that it is the car and then gets on the phone and begins speaking in another language. While I pretend to look at the car from a distance. He pauses his gibberish conversation long enough to tell me his friend is coming shortly who can move the other cars.
I swallow, it's funny how a person remembers doing the oddest things, but I remember swallowing right then and realizing that I've long since past the easy way to get out of this situation. So I look at him and politely say that I had already arranged to meet someone in 30 minutes (not a lie) and needed to leave and was very sorry but that I could not stay and wait any longer. His face made a crazy look at that moment that I can't even describe. And then I turned my back on him and began the long walk to the fence. My screaming gut was silenced only be the small chant in my head praying he would "let me leave".
The word "let" was ringing in my head. I'd never before felt such a hope for another humans mercy in "letting" me walk away.
I left. I left extremely shaken. It felt like I didn't even breathe until I'd maneuvered the city streets back out to the highway, and that's when I began trembling so hard I could hardly hold the wheel. But not for anything would I pull over.
I went home and tried to forget everything.
I did contact one person and cancel my appt with Andre to look at his car the next day. I officially banned meeting craigslist people. NOT gonna happen again.
Then yesterday Andre contacts me again and really wants to sell me his car. After at least an hour of gut twisting indecision I make a plan. Yes I'll meet him, close to my home, on a road that's close to the library where my brother and his wife would be and in a very busy parking lot next to a gas station on a busy Saturday afternoon.
So I go there and park and wait for him to arrive.
Andre sends me a text asking me to go to a different location.
That's all he did. Any other day I wouldn't have even cared one wit. I would have just driven a few more exits down and parked there. But the next thing I know I'm trembling from head to toe, and I'm trying not to cry. I send Andre a text back saying No and the deal is off I'm going home.
And that was the first moment I realized I had a problem. I drove away from the parking lot as quickly as I could, afraid he would show up before I could get away. I was stopped briefly in the parking lot by my brother and his wife who stopped by on their way home. I would have had people with me this time. The situation was entirely different. But I was still shaking so violently that I thought I was going to be sick. I drove away, and at the first opportunity when I felt "clear" of the place I pulled over to try and gather myself. And I realized I had a problem.
God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of sound mind.
Yesterdays events let the devil enjoy a victory over me. And I hate that. So, I've arranged to meet Andre again. He's given me even more reason to trust that this situation is nothing like the other and I'm trying again. If for no other reason than I will not allow the devil to keep this victory.
I've got a post on this that's not quite so personal that I'll put up soon, but I wanted to post this humbling description of me because I want to be completely frank about how foolish and stupid I can be sometimes. Because our Christian walk isn't about doing it perfectly and enjoy victory after victory. It's about getting up every single time you fall over and knowing that God is still there. It's about seeing your weaknesses and not accepting them but challenging them by the power of Jesus Christ.
When I become irrationally afraid I know the devil is at work. I believe when I met The Russian I had great reason to follow the Holy Spirits urging (I believe the Holy Spirit lives in my gut quite often). But the second event was just the devil using fear against me. And I'm going to attack it.
Whatever you've got in your life, whatever you see makes you irrational and you see it isn't of God - fight it. Don't condone it, don't tell yourself it's just a part of your past that is still haunting you. Fight. Give God everything you've got, every day.
You'll only be glad you did.