A lesson learned from Jaycee Dugard

The unknown is like the light mist of dew on a mature summer morning. The grass is shiny although one cannot make out the exact droplets of water on the blades. The asphalt is darker and a clean looking sidewalk lies before me, although I still can’t be sure it rained.The unknown is allusive, tricky to pinpoint, just beyond reach. But what about the unknown makes it scary?

The fear of the unknown can be a deciding factor for me. To do or not to do?                And often, the answer to that question involves avoiding the unknown because there’s a whole list of possibilities out there in that undefined space. Staying put seems safer, or is it?

For 18 years of her life, Jaycee Dugard was held captive, beaten and raped; stolen from her family at age 11. Her story is horrific; the amount of violence unfathomable, and yet through it all she says her biggest fear revolved around the unknown.

Jaycee lived in solitary confinement until her first daughter was born three years into captivity and wasn’t allowed to spend time outdoors until after her second daughter was born, more than six years after her abduction. In the beginning, there were restraints holding her captive and a stun gun. Then she recounts that one day they were gone. She was free to roam outside in a fenced lot in suburban CA. So why didn’t she run? Why didn’t she make her escape once outside?

“I’ve asked myself that question many times. I know there was no leaving. The mind manipulation plus the physical abuse I suffered in the beginning, there was no leaving…. I don’t know what it would have took. Maybe if one of the girls were being hurt,” Dugard said.

Once Jaycee Dugard birthed her daughters, she didn’t flee because her captor had convinced her the world outside their compound was unsafe. The fear of the unknown was more powerful than what she endured within captivity. In 2009 she would be rescued because she was brave enough to write down her real name for an attentive police officer.

As I listened to the interview with Jaycee, I remember saying, “I get it, I totally get it.” I understand how the fear of the unknown can have such a powerful immobilizing effect. I’ve been prey to it for a long time. Although I’ve never been abused by a convicted rapist and manipulated by the mad mind of evil, fear in and of itself can be a powerful contender with the human will. Finally, I’m ready to go head to head with the unknown. I’m ready to put on the boxing gloves because I see it for what it is. A lie. There is nothing beyond the fence to be afraid of. Staying put in the same place, in captivity is no longer an option.

In the book of Joshua, we read accounts of the Israelite army defeating city after city, kings relinquishing reign over their land. Joshua gained the victories because the LORD went before him and was with Joshua. By all accounts, Joshua should have lost a few battles, but he didn’t. He continued to gain land and prosperity until the Israelites fully inhabited the promise land. If I imagine the tasks, the fears, the unknown that was before Joshua, I imagine fear. But the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” v. 10:8

Over and over again, God tells Joshua to put aside fear. He reassured Joshua that he will have the victory, that the LORD will fight the battle. I imagine the fear of the unknown diminishes a bit after each victory.

I resign myself to look fear square in the face. If I am honestly afraid of something I cannot see, I choose to go to battle. Saying inside the fence is not an option. The known cannot always win out over the unknown. The fear will not always win out in my heart. Ever since my heart has connected to Jaycee Dugard’s story, I feel like I finally get it. I can tell my self to go through the gate and run into the unknown because there is nothing to fear.


The words of Jaycee Dugard have been quoted from her interview with Diane Sawyer.     To read the entire interview, go here to abc.news.com

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