The knock made me jump. I looked out the front door to see dark hair and a young face beneath a black-and-white baseball cap and the cold grip of fear seized my heart. I grabbed the phone and ushered my boys into their bedroom, far away from the door and that baseball cap.
It was Thursday, April 18, 2013, three days after the Boston Marathon bombing. Pictures of the brothers were all over the news, investigators searching for clues to where the two suspects could be—anywhere, it seemed, even my front door.
Despite my sons assuring me that they could “take the bad guy out” with their NERF guns, I called the police, and not long after, two officers crept into my backyard, guns drawn, searching my shed. They found no one and later tracked down a young tax assessor who admitted he had come to our house to check on renovation progress.
I felt foolish, and just a little crazy. Even after news stories finally stopped talking of the bombing, the feeling of fear didn’t go away. And this wasn’t anything new for me. After the events of the Sandy Hook tragedy just months earlier, I was living in fear and doubt and distrust and often, acute sadness for not only those in the tragedies, but for the state of the world. While I knew that anything could happen to me, my family, or my community, something about these two tragedies shook me up. Perhaps the fact that I was geographically sandwiched between them. Maybe because I had two children the same age as those at Sandy Hook. Or maybe that I was an avid long distance runner, that I had always dreamed of running the Boston Marathon. Yet whatever the reasons, I was a Christian, claiming to put my faith in a loving God. Why then, did I doubt Him? And how could I walk in faith while clinging to fear as my companion?
As I began my sixth manuscript attempt at publication, I didn’t set out to tackle this theme. What I did set out to do was distract myself and create what I hoped was a compelling story. This theme organically appeared in the story because it was something I was dealing with at the time.
In the process of answering the question of how I could conquer fear, two women—centuries apart—were birthed. Annie is a Boston Marathon bombing victim, wondering how she will ever get past the bombing, and the subsequent choices she has made to separate herself from her family, including a niece who lost a leg in the bombing. The ring given to Annie the day of the bombing becomes an idol to her. She looks to it for hope and strength. Liberty is a woman wondering how she will ever get past the death of her brother in the Boston Massacre, and the subsequent choices she has made in stealing a ring from a man (a British officer) who has shown her nothing but kindness.
Both women are bound with chains they were never meant to carry. Both women look to the ring and to themselves to find the strength they know they lack.
And through the journeys of these two fictitious women, along with some amazing books and Bible studies and encouragement of others, I began to breathe again, to glimpse the true freedom won for me long ago.
I hope it is one you are also reminded of as you journey with Annie and Liberty in Freedom’s Ring.