Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Day God Walked Me Home From School


A true story by Molly Noble Bull  


            I was standing at the curb in front of my elementary school. I don’t know the day, the month, the year or whether I was in the second or third grade. But I remember the gray sedan parked across the street. I’d never seen a car parked there before, and a sense of danger swept through me. Maybe I should go home a different way except I didn’t know another way. When the light changed, I crossed like I always did.  
It’s amazing what details a child can recall at times like this. I have no idea what had gone on at school that day, but I remember that the sidewalk was about two feet from the street. Green grass, recently mowed, connected the sidewalk to the curb. The man had parked his car as close to the curb as he could get it, and I saw him looking at me in his rearview mirror as soon as I stepped onto the sidewalk.  
He had black hair, and looking at the back of his head, I noticed that his cheeks were puffed out at the sides like he was grinning or maybe laughing at me. As I moved closer, I saw a tan blazer draped over the back of the seat on the passenger side. The window closest to me was rolled down. 
“Would you like a ride, little girl?” 
My heart pulled into a hard knot. He had a pleasant sounding voice. But somehow, I knew I needed to run.  
“No!”  I started running. 
My mother had told me never to ride with strangers or even talk to them. As I raced down the sidewalk in the direction of our garage apartment, I tried to understand what was happening. 
Mama never told me what to do after I refused the offer of a ride. I had assumed the stranger would say something like, “you don’t want a ride? Well, okay. Goodbye.” Then he would drive off. 
But he wheeled as close to that curb as he could, braking his gray sedan to a crawl. He kept pace with me as I sprinted down the sidewalk. My heart pounded.
I didn’t stop at the first intersection. I ran across the street without looking for oncoming cars. As I approached the second intersection, I considered turning right after I crossed the street instead of continuing down the sidewalk. I could walk between houses until I reached the ally and then run down the ally until I got home. 
A voice in my head said, “No, Molly. Just keep running down the sidewalk.” 
I did exactly as the voice said and kept going. However, I soon realized that I needed to slow-down or I’d dash right by our apartment. I reduced my speed, hurrying across the three driveways in front of our house. The man must have noticed that I was walking fast instead of running. He stopped his car about forty feet ahead of me next to the tall grass. 
There was a vacant lot next to our garage apartment, and the grass on the lot and the grass between the sidewalk and the street hadn’t been cut in a long time. My head and shoulders barely showed above the weeds when I walked down that sidewalk.    
A stairway to the side of the garage apartment had a landing about three or four steps up. I climbed the stairs two at a time without looking back. At the landing, the stairs went up the back of the building to a porch where the doors were located. I grabbed the handle on the screen door and pulled as hard as I could, but the door wouldn’t open. How could I have forgotten? Mama always kept the door locked  
“Mama,” I shouted. “Let me in! A man is after me.” 
In the time it took for her to open the door, I looked down. The man stood on the landing, peering up at me. Fear devoured me. 
He wore a short-sleeved white shirt and dark trousers, and he had dark eyes and a black mustache. I couldn’t define that look he sent me then. Now I know it was pure lust. 
My mother opened the door, and I raced inside. 
Mama went out on the porch—perhaps to find out what was going on. 
“I just wanted to tell you, lady, what a cute little girl you have.” 
“Thank you,” she said. “We think so, too.” 
Then the man turned, got in his car and roared off.   
At the time, Mama didn’t know what happened earlier. Therefore, she didn’t even try to get his license plate number. However, she walked me to and from school after that. 
                                             # # #
I’ve heard it said that events like this hardly bother children at all. Not true. I had disturbing dreams for years and years, and the affects of this encounter didn’t end there.
My best friend in high school liked guys who were tall, dark and handsome. But boys I admired had to have either blue or green eyes and brown or blond hair, like my dad. My favorite movie actors were Paul Newman and later Mel Gibson instead of a dark Cary Grant type, and I thought this was a personal choice like liking chocolate ice cream and hating red beets. I just wasn’t attracted to boys with dark eyes and black hair, and if a young man with a mustache looked in my direction, forget it. 
What happened that day changed my life. Yet I can’t stop wondering what my life would have been like if the man with the black mustache had been successful. I am married, and we have three grown sons and six grandchildren. Would I ever have married if things had turned out differently? Would I be writing this very true story? Or would I be in a mental institution or a cemetery somewhere?  
Evil men capture some children while others manage to escape. I have no idea the why this is so. I only know that God spoke to me that day so long ago and told me what to do as He walked me home from school. He protected me from all harm, and I praise Him for it. I am glad I obeyed my mother that day and didn’t ride with a stranger, and I am thankful that I listened to what I believe was the voice of the Lord. 


Connie Almony said...

Oh, Molly! I am so glad you knew what to do and were spared. As a counselor, I have worked with young women who were the victims of such men. It's heart breaking. And yet, I know, even then, when they reached out to God, much healing occurred. That's not to say, however, that they weren't changed by the event.

Robin Bayne said...

Wow!! So glad He got you home safely.

Donna Brennan said...

That is scary, Molly. I had a similar experience when I was a little bit older. I think I was 12 and it was dark out and this guy in a car was following me and saying things to me. I was so afraid to let the guy know where I lived, but I wasn't sure what else to do. Fortunately I ran into an other girl a year younger than myself, and the two of us together managed to outsmart the guy. We turned down a rather busy road (fortunately we were on the left hand side, as far from him as possible) and after he turned onto that road we did a 180 and hurried back in the direction we had come from. He couldn't turn around and we both ran toward our homes.

I had a second encounter with what I believe was the same guy. I don't know which incident came first. I was walking my dog in the park and happened past him in a clearing. I continued to walk into a more open area of the park that can be seen from the road. Then I crossed the street and, after turning around and not seeing the guy, I went down a small hill into a more secluded section of the park, one that could't be seen from the road.

That's when my dog, who wasn't on a leash ran way ahead. Usually when she did this I'd hide behind a tree until she came back. When she finally would find me she would stay close to me. I was in an area of the park where folks hardly ever went, so there was a lot of tall grass, maybe three or four feet high. There was one main trail (about two or three feet wide) and a lot of smaller trails (maybe a foot wide). My dog had run down the main trail. I quickly turned down one of the smaller trails and ducked down, peering through the grass so I could see when my dog came back. But instead of seeing my dog I saw this man walking briskly down the main trail in the direction he apparently thought I had gone. My heart seemed to have skipped a beat. After he was out of sight I came out of hiding and ran to the street that separated both sides of the park. I called my dog, who came running, and we rushed home.

I tell my kids these stories now, as a way of telling them to be careful (and resourceful) without having to say those words. I want them to know that danger is real, but if you keep your calm (and pray) you can get through it.

Kate Dolan said...

Wow, these are chilling stories. I wonder if my own children would be as smart in handling situations like this. I'll keep praying for protection because I know God can heal any injury but I'd just as soon that injury never happen in the first place!

Molly Noble Bull said...

Thanks for writing Connie, Robin, Donna and Kate. I think the reason I had such a hard time with men with mustaches is because I was so young when this happened.
Keep praying for protection for your children. God is good --- all the time.

Molly Noble Bull said...

Thanks for writing Connie, Robin, Donna and Kate. I think the reason I had such a hard time with men with mustaches is because I was so young when this happened.
Keep praying for protection for your children. God is good --- all the time.

Teresa Slack said...

The Lord definitely had his hand on you that day, Molly, and you as well, Donna. Evil isn't new, but I believe the dangers are greater because so many kids are growing up without loving parents and grandparents to teach them and watch over them. We need to get past the discomfort and have these conversations with our children. Thanks to both of you for sharing your stories.

Dawn Turner said...

I think people underestimate the effects of this kind of stuff on a child, but then I think they often do the same with adults. I'm so glad God got you home safely, Molly. Recognition that this kind of evil exists in this world is why my mother wouldn't let us walk anywhere without her until we were in our teens, and then we had to go together - all three of us girls. I used to grouse about having to walk my two younger sisters to the local convenience store when I was in my mid- to late teens, but looking back on it I recognize my mother's wisdom in making me do so. We live in a small town (less than 6K people), but even here where people think their children are safe, we've had perverts try to pick up children. Including in my own little neighborhood.

As an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse (by an extended-family member), I know the damage that can be done to a child, and how long it can take to heal from that damage. Not to mention some of the bizarre ways it can manifest. Any situation that leaves a child feeling afraid, trapped and/or helpless can leave a nasty wound. I wish more people recognized that.

Molly Noble Bull said...

Thanks for writing Teresa and Dawn. Dawn, my heart cries out for you. I just prayed for your total healing. I don't know what you think about spiritual warfare, but it sure works for me.
If you are on the ACFW loop, look for my email address and write me. I would like to talk to you -- for both of us.

Patricia PacJac Carroll said...

What a frightening experience! so glad you heeded the Lord's warning and ran.

Good warning to watch out for children.

Molly Noble Bull said...

Thanks for writing, Patricia. I wish I could say that flashbacks related to the event finally goes away, but it hasn't. However, it has faded, and rebuking the evil one in the name of Jesus helps -- a lot.