A few months ago I answered the door to a solicitor. Now before you clutch your pearls in horror, know it was completely by accident as I had a ‘no soliciting’ sign on my door, and assumed whoever was ringing my doorbell was a neighbor.
Once I opened the door there he was, a solicitor with clipboard in hand ready to sell me something. He immediately went into his spiel as I fretted about what to do. It was a cold day and I didn’t want all the heat in my house escaping through the open door. I stopped him mid-sentence and invited him inside. He accepted and I abruptly closed the door behind him.
All of the sudden I came to the realization there was a complete stranger in my house. On top of that, I was home alone with my children. As he continued on with his spiel I started to panic inside. What the hell was I thinking, letting a stranger into my house? What if something bad happens and he tries to take advantage of me, or worse, my children? On the outside I put up a brave front for the sake of my watching kids. I do not want to teach my children that living life in fear is okay.
This may sound kind of strange but it is actually a defense technique I’ve learned – making eye contact and verbally acknowledging someone makes you more of a person rather than a faceless, potential victim in their eyes – so I asked my oldest to say hello, which he did. As the man wrapped up his pitch, I politely declined whatever it was he was selling. The solicitor did not want to take no for an answer. He kept pressing, disregarding my boundary. I started to sweat. What if I can’t get this guy out of my house? After a few more rounds of him trying to “sell me” and me continually saying no, I finally was able to get him to leave my house. A bit shaken after the experience, I immediately group texted my other “mom friends” to help process the experience.
Since that day, I’ve thought back on why I felt afraid and what I would have done differently. I realized that, yes, while something bad could have happened, it was extremely unlikely that someone going door to door in broad daylight, trying to make their sales quota, was going to make me a victim of physical harm. After a lot of soul-searching I made the conscious decision to stop being living in fear. It is not a value I want to uphold nor teach my children.
Shortly after I reached this decision it was tested to new heights. The horrific events of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino flooded our televisions, social media, and our conversations. The constant chatter made it feel like danger is lurking around every corner. Fear suddenly crept back into my heart and mind and took residence in many of my friends, who are also parents.
One friend of mine admitted she is nervous about her teenage son walking to the bus stop alone. An online acquaintance recounted a “scary” experience of a man who tried to talk to her at the park (he was also there with his kids). It is easy to be fearful, but it’s not healthy. It’s actually quite pointless. This is not how I want to live my life and not how I want my children to experience the world. It’s not living.
One Sunday morning, after these events took place, I was serving communion during our church’s alternative service (picture a dark room lit by candlelight, a stage and jamming band). As I was serving, I started to imagine what would happen if a mad gunman burst through the doors. I decided I’d run toward him and blind him with the communion wine I was holding. The thought made me smile, but more than likely I’d hide under the chairs. As strange as this may sound, I was not afraid of dying. The thought didn’t even cross my mind.
I’m living a big life. I’ve experienced incredible things. I’ve loved and been loved. I’ve seen beauty beyond measure, and quite frankly, I’m a very busy mom raising my family while chasing after my own dreams. Having “a plan” in case of the unthinkable, and total acceptance of any outcome empowered me. Suddenly I remembered, I’m not in control. I started serving communion with more conviction.
Last week another solicitor rang the doorbell. He towered over me once I opened the door to greet him. As he started his spiel, I politely invited him in. Expressing thanks as he stepped in out of the cold, I then offered him something to drink. After chatting for a few minutes and giving him time to warm up I sent him back on his way. As I watched him cross the street to ring the doorbell of my neighbor’s house, I was thankful I acted without fear. Who knows, maybe that was the only kindness that man experienced all day. If the worst was to happen, I would be ready.
Ultimately it’s not my call.