As far as car accidents go, mine really wasn’t that bad.
It was a straight collision with no spin, ricochet, or ancillary damage. Because the airbag deployed, even though I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and the accident was at highway speeds, I remained in the vehicle, sustaining only minor injuries.
While both cars ended up being towed, both drivers were able to walk away from the accident.
The crash was also a financial inconvenience, not a catastrophe. The timing worked out such that I was able to borrow my brother’s car while he was on a job in Canada, meaning I had no expenses for a rental. My full-coverage insurance meant my medical bills are being paid by USAA.
I purchased a newer version of the same car (with some newer security features, such as emergency braking) and, when the insurance payment arrived, was able to pay off the car the following month.
Physically and financially, I couldn’t have planned this accident better if I had been allowed to write the story. What left me so shaken was the emotional aftermath of the accident.
Two weeks, to the day, before the anniversary of dad’s wreck, I am sitting in shock smelling the airbag’s residue fill my car, slowly realizing what just happened. Flashes of the moments before would play though my mind on loop over the next several days, leaking into my nightmares. Each time, I’d will myself to stop but there’d still be the crash, like the unavoidable ending to a horror movie, unchanged through many viewings.
Questions flood my mind but they all come back to the same though: Why am I alive?
Dad wore his seatbelt; I didn’t.
Dad was actively serving others; I sulking and thinking about myself.
Dad was struck by another vehicle; I struck someone else.
Dad was focused and attentive, doing everything he could to prevent the accident; I was distracted and numb, driving through life in the cloud that has grown thicker and thicker since his crash.
Dad was dead; I was alive.
How is that fair?
Undeniably, God has carried me through the accident and the traumatic weeks that followed. He provided friends to come and care for me, a ride to work, my brother’s car, money that seemed to come from nowhere…
While I was intellectually honest enough to know that these gifts came from God, I was done with Him. Trusting God hurt, and I didn’t want to be part of His story anymore.
Fighting to maintain a positive and together appearance, I did everything in my power to keep people from even knowing the accident occurred. Unfortunately, the more I fought to appear fine, the more my pain continued to grow worse instead of better. I started having insufferable migraines and moments of diziness so intense I thought I’d vomit.
Four weeks after the accident, I told my community group about the pain I was in; most of them did not even know I’d been in a crash. Still the pain continued till it seemed I couldn’t endure any longer. Breaking through another wall of pride, I went forward for payer on a Sunday morning.
In that act of surrender, God moved. Immediately, as Tony prayed, I could feel most of the pain leave my body and in the weeks that followed my recovery has continued (today was my 5th day without painkillers). This healing should be cause for joy but instead made me more bitter; why couldn’t God just heal me sooner instead of allowing me to suffer?
I can see now that both the wreck and the weeks that followed, God was fighting for my attention; He wanted to wake me up to the pain that I have continued to endure in silence. He had to crack my meticulously polished armor to reveal that I wasn’t ok and my heart was still bleeding.
Today Chris was preaching from Acts about how the early church shared what they had and met each other’s needs. He made a sidebar comment about having to drop your pride enough to admit you have needs before anyone can meet them. That thought lingered with me as I wandered about after the service; wanting to talk but not knowing what to say.
How do I articulate my need? What can anyone do to help? Financially, I am fine. There is nothing I need that God hasn’t provided. My physical needs are as met as well, especially since my finances allow me to pay for the services I don’t have time or desire to do myself (e.g. cooking).
Nothing anyone could say or do would soothe the true pain I feel and it hurts too much to face that head on by talking. I’d rather stay busy; lost in my work and anything else I can do to keep from facing the reality of what’s happened. Even just a long weekend is enough space to allow the emotions I am running from to close in on me, threatening to pull me under.
Not only am I at a loss for how to reach out to others; I don’t know what to ask of God, or even if I want His input. I don’t want a God that carries me through trials; I want a God who protects me from them. Unfortunately, I don’t get my own personal Jesus; none of us do.
The God of the Bible walked with Noah saving animals during a flood, Moses rescuing Israelites through a desert, Paul shepherding a budding church while in a prison, and Jesus saving the world hanging on a cross. He’s a God of sustaining (and using) His people though pain, not letting them avoid it altogether.
God is asking me to trust Him, to be venerable and share my pain with Him and others. But I don’t know what to ask and, when I am honest, I don’t really know if I want Him to be the one to answer anyway. I doubt His love and I wonder why I continue to have so much faith in a God who seemed more interested in the story He was telling with my life than me, the main character of that story.
I cannot deny He is real and powerful nor can I deny He loves me personally. Every day this week has been a new reminder that He is personal and intentional with me. I want to ignore each miracle and yet they are so pervasive that they cannot be denied.
God is romancing me, wanting me to dance with Him again. I don’t know if I’m ready to step on the dance floor but I am starting to be ready to show up to the ball.