Noah is 6’1″ and 16 years old. Friday night he found himself in a dangerous situation with only his fear and his wits to save him. For reasons we won’t go into here, he was walking by himself at around 11:30 pm down a deserted street to a friend’s house. No cell phone.
A man, taller than him, older than him, more sinister than him was walking down the street toward him. Noah knew something was not right. He kept walking towards his destination, trying to shake the feeling.
The man came closer.
Noah became more sure something was not right.
The man kept coming. He got close to Noah and said, “Give me your smartphone”.
Noah, (afraid, instinctively not admitting he had no phone) said, “no”.
The man came closer and blocked his path, now only 6 inches away, “GIVE me your smart phone”.
Noah, (terrified, raw instincts telling him not to show it, figured he was getting ready to be hurt, braced himself, hoping to go for the guy’s nuts and the throat and run like hell, looked UP straight in his eyes, stuck out his chin in defiance and said the only thing he could come up with)
“I think you better keep walking, before something bad happens”
The man walked away.
Noah, shocked, walked as fast as reasonable to his friends house (minus getting lost and shaking from fear and adrenaline.)
Richard and I, fast asleep in our bed, not knowing how close this child of ours just came to being hurt or worse on an unknown street in subfreezing temperatures.
When we found out about this 24 hrs later (after my own shaking and time on my knees thanking God my child was ok) I was blown away. I was amazed by how Noah was able to read the situation correctly in a split second and pull off a reaction that ended in the best possible outcome.
I immediately thought about one of my favorite books, “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker. He says that real fear in the face of danger can save your life. It will tell you what to do. You do not have to go around always afraid of what MIGHT happen. You need to just stay aware of what IS happening. Your most ancient warning system will tell you what your logical brain is too slow to understand. Whether it is fight or flight, or do what they want, if you come away with your life, following your fear saved you.
For all the grandparents who are freaked out about this, yes we are learning from this incident to hopefully prevent it ever happening again. But for the purpose of this post, I want to focus on Noah’s brilliance in the moment when it counted the most. There is no amount of prevention that can prepare you for a split second that can mean the difference between life and death. Between serious injury/trauma and walking away unscathed. When there was no one to help him but himself Noah passed the test. You rock Noah!! All of us are just hoping we would be able to do the same thing if the situation called for it.
John Eldridge writes in his book, “Wild at Heart” that a boy comes into this world with a question buried deep in his heart. As he grows up, he presents that question many times to his father (and his mother). That question is:
“Do I have what it takes?” Do I have what it takes to be a man?
Son, you absolutely, without a doubt, beyond question, have what it takes. I would say this even if the right thing would have been to give him the phone and run like hell! You HAVE what it takes to be a man. You have courage and the ability to listen to your instincts.
And to the piece of white trash out there somewhere still walking around, if Richard and I EVER find you…
We are not afraid of jail.
So, to echo my son’s words
“I think you better keep walking, before something bad happens.”