One Way to Be Delivered from Fear is to Walk Through It

There is more than one way to be delivered from fear.

Take for instance, my lifelong fear of being bitten by a dog. It probably began when I was introduced to my grandfather’s German Shepherd, Babe. He was, by all accounts, a gentle and loving dog but I was a toddler, and he was so big. I’m sure I mistook his friendly curiosity for menace and a fear took root.

In our home, fears weren’t dealt with, they were dismissed, mocked, or ignored. “Lori’s afraid of dogs” just became something people said when we visited friends with large pets.

Other adults would try their own well-intentioned fear reduction courses. “He’s more afraid of you than you are of him. Go ahead, just stick your hand right in his mouth. He won’t bite!” or “He’s only barking at you and snarling because he senses your fear. Stop being afraid, you’ll be fine.”

I love dogs and we’ve had several large dogs – all rescues. But, I’ve always been cautious around dogs I don’t know. Caution and care worked out fine for me, until the day it didn’t.

This one dog at this one home was always secured before I even left my car – I made certain of it. He never hid how protective he felt of his home, nor did he hide his perception of me as a threat to it. The family agreed to our plan and always, always secured him the moment I arrived.

No one knows how he got loose during my visit. No one was aware as I left the home, their door locking behind me, that he waited for me. The instant I saw him, I knew I was about to face my fear in real time.

I turned to try to get back up the three steps. There’s a moment between me turning and me feeling the piercing pain of his teeth in my back that is blacked out. In that moment that I don’t remember, he must have lunged at my back and knocked me to the steps. I didn’t even make it up the first step because I was sprawled across all three as he pinned me down puncturing my back and then tearing my arm upper arm open.

As I screamed for help, I stretched from beneath him and slapped at the door the best I could. Thankfully, the family heard. I was dragged inside to safety, the dog resecured, first aid administered, 911 called.

The entire incident lasted only minutes. Minutes of terror and pain that led to six weeks of stitches, bandages, medications, concussion protocols, complications, abscesses, more medications, healing, setbacks, more healing, paperwork, medical visits, police reports, testimony before a town hearing board, trauma therapy, loss of work, loss of productivity, missed events, sleepless nights, unexpected expenses, and many anxious moments in unfamiliar territory – attack victim.

But, here’s the thing. My fears no longer loom. I’ve survived encountering what I’ve feared since childhood. I did everything I could have done to prevent it and it happened anyway. And, I’ll recover. I’ll be different, but I will be fine.

Soon, I’ll return to my day job. Entering week six, I’m sleeping better. My wounds are on the mend. I’m coming to terms with all that was impacted in the last six weeks – everything I’ve missed, everything I couldn’t do, everything and everyone that was affected. I’m adapting to the new scarred and lumpy terrain of my upper arm and back. My strength is returning. We’ll see how it feels to go back to the job.

(For those concerned about the dog, he is fine. His owner admitted training him to attack. He has not been destroyed but the owner has numerous restrictions that must be followed to prevent another attack as I was the third known victim.)

My roots in God are dug deeper now. My fear of the future is reduced. Because, in the past three years of loss, unexpected shocks, pandemic, political strife, social unrest, and now physical attack, I see that one powerful way to deal with fears is to walk through them with God.

To walk into the fire. To enter Nineveh. To build the wall. To confront the giant. To submit to the cross. To speak the gospel truth to those who want to kill you for saying the name of Jesus. To love others knowing they may cause you harm. To love again after they do.

I feared the pain and terror of a dog attack – but God was there. I am weak, but He is strong.

I feared loss of productivity, sidelined in ministry and writing, dependent on others – but God was there.

When I couldn’t read, write, look at a screen, care for my own wounds, or deal with other people’s emotions – God was there.

And I crawled inside a Bible verse I have never really liked and found, not only solace, but strength, and Christ-centered confidence that has further equipped me for the future.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

Before June 9th, I lived inside my fear of vicious dogs. Today, I live in the strength of knowing God is present even in dog bites, nightmares, incisions, weakness, and emotional wounds. In pandemics, protests, politics, losses, disasters, and conflicts, He is there.

Photos by Hannah RoeleveldAnd while I am weak before dog teeth and small in the face of racial discord, political conflict and pandemic death, His power is made perfect in weakness and His grace is sufficient for me, for you, and for all who call in Jesus’ name.

Some of you have walked through your own fears with Jesus, so you know the truth of what I say. It’s never been more important to live outside our fears.

None of us wishes for hardships or trials but when they come, walk through them with Jesus. There is freedom on the other side.

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    The Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    My two huge fears are spiders and heights. I am getting better with the spider fear but the heights one, well i hope i never fall from somewhere high to lose that fear. But you are so spot on that going through a fear and surviving really does take the power away from Satan to use that against us ever again. About the dog I have mixed feelings only because the dog was doing what it was “trained” to do so because of that destroying the dog would not have been fair to the dog, it did what MAN trained it to do. But because of its training it should never be allowed to be around any other human but its owner. I am so glad you are doing so much better now.

  2. Deb Haggerty says:

    Praying for you. You have the Family behind you. <3

  3. Arlene Tencza says:

    I am so thankful you are healing in all ways and God is redeeming it. I am one of the greatest animal lovers of all times, however that dog is dangerous, I don’t care how many protocols are in place. It’s just a matter of time until it happens again. And that makes me so, so sad.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I love TRUE stories, especially Christ centered ones, so I just want to thank you for your “story”, and your wonderful advice as a result of it. When you wrote last month that you were attacked by a dog, I was alarmed, but never for a moment did I think I would get to hear all the details of this unpleasant providence, so thank you for surprising me 😳, and edifying SO many with clear, Biblical wisdom when life falls apart (!). I was attacked by a strange man once, and after a tussle on the ground, he suddenly started weeping. I took that opportunity to run away from him, and was spared….who knows what! That episode definitely encouraged me to “trust in the Lord at ALL times” also, and be reminded that “the Lord willing”, we will go here, or there :). May our Heavenly Father continue to restore you, and equip you to “build, bless, and beam” for HIM!

  5. Audra Breeding says:

    Beautiful, how you use this horrendous attack to share the love and power of God. Continued prayers for healing Lori. Nice to see you back.

  6. Carla FEMAT says:

    So glad you are on the rebound. Take care. Thanks for sharing your fears and or weakness. Yes, God promises He will be there, our strength when we are weak. It takes faith and trust sometimesjust to face our fears. Glad you feel more positive about facing your fear. God Bless, Carla

  7. Judy says:

    I’m glad you got thru this, but I think that dog should be put down!

  8. Nico van der Merwe says:

    Walk through your fear – very powerful!
    I am concerned about victim no 4…

  9. Paula says:

    Love you Lori. Thank you for sharing your journey, being real in the pain, yet showing God’s faithfulness. Continuing to pray for you!

  10. Deb Gorman says:

    Welcome back, Lori! I prayed for you yesterday, wondering how you were doing, and when I’d get your next email.I’m so glad that this “event” in your life has become golden fodder for your ministry of encouragement to me. The moniker “fear” can certainly be a label for the last 18 months, for all of us, but as you said, God walks the days with us. Blessings on your head, my friend!

  11. Jan Clough says:

    Dear Lori
    How shocked and saddened to read of your trauma and no doubt the trauma the dog owners also now feel. I have opinions regarding that but my thoughts and prayers are about you.
    I feel with any trauma that as our Heavenly Father walks alongside us not only does He bring us through but He also goes on to empower us, equipping us to overcome fear in a way not known to us before. Of course we all need fear after all it’s God given but He teaches us how to be overcomers where fear has held us back. His comforting Holy Spirt heals both outwardly and within. Who else is there like Him!
    Lori sadly your fears were justified about this particular situation. May you know complete healing both physically and emotionally Amen!

  12. Robin Luftig says:

    “I’ve survived encountering what I’ve feared since childhood. I did everything I could have done to prevent it and it happened anyway. And, I’ll recover. I’ll be different, but I will be fine.”

    I understand completely!

    When a person has no other choice but to face their fear, they learn the true power of God.

    Sending love, dear friend!

  13. Maureen says:

    Thank you for sharing this. When I was a girl, I battled fear—of being sent to a remote mission field and having to eat strange foods… of throwing up (strange as it sounds)… and of a future wrought with health issues. I’ve traveled to distant and poverty-stricken lands and loved each moment. I’ve thrown up (though I still hate it and avoid it at all costs) and I’ve faced health issues and some affliction… and still—always—discovered Jesus present in them all… my Good Shepherd. Thank you for helping me and others recognize this more fully. He never wastes a suffering.

  14. Maggie Wallem Rowe says:

    Lori, your point of spiritual application is well taken. That said, on a human level I am horrified at what you went through, and honestly that the dog has not been euthanized since you were the THIRD victim. I know from experience that no dog can be fully secured, especially one trained to attack. The next victim might be a child. My heart is heavy for how you have suffered, and yet you continue to press forth with your ministry of work and words. Praying for your total recovery!

    • Sadly, the person bit in November did not report the bite and neither did the urgent care who treated her. I was aware of it from the family. Her place of work received a long email from me detailing what I’ve endured because if she had reported, it’s likely my attack wouldn’t have happened. But, there it is. I am glad it was me and not a child or a smaller worker or an older person.

  15. Karen says:

    Thanks for sharing and reminder of His sufficient grace from 2 Cor 12. Reminds me of Romans 8 and how nothing (not even dog trauma) can separate us from His love. Grateful you’re writing again and prayers for continued healing.