Shaken

As far as car accidents go, mine really wasn’t that bad.

img_1823It 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.

img_1826I purchased a newer version of the same car (with some newer security features, such as emergency braking) and, when the insurance payment arrived, was able to pay off the car the following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.

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Little Miracles from a Big God

This morning in my time with God I asked Him to help me have the faith to dream big dreams again.

Let me give that some context: I don’t doubt God can and will do big things in this world; I’m afraid what it will cost me.

The last time I asked God to use me to impact the world, I lost both my parents and had the opportunity to speak the truth through various mediums around the world. Since then, I’ve been a bit weary to ask God to use me in His story.

But I ache for meaning and purpose. I enjoy my job and love my clients … it’s just that I was made for more than work and YouTube. The void created by avoiding dreams started to become a vacuum sucking the passion and meaning out of every area of my life.

Trapped in the doldrums of a dreamless state, I started grasping for something (outside of God) to give my life purpose. I tried looking for a new job (nothing filled the void), moved to a new house, and bought a new car … only to find the ache grew more and more severe.

So this morning I told God I wanted the faith to dream with Him again. To trust that, on the way to using me to impact the world, He cares about me personally.

The scripture I was reading this morning (just happened to follow the verse from yesterday) was Psalm 139:16 … the verse I read just hours before Cassie called to tell me Mom was gone.

That verse, combined with a sermon from Grace, encouraged me that God had a plan and would not let my suffering be in vain. (Read more in the blog Confused but Confident.)

Today I wrote in my journal “2016 He pulled me away to develop Core Strength. 2017 I had exponential impact. 2018 He is pulling me away again. God has something amazing planned.”

Ten minutes later, I hop into the car and immediately the song playing ends. A woman comes on the air and says “here’s today’s encouraging word: God is preparing you for what He has prepared for you.”

I started crying. God isn’t done with me. I’m afraid of the preparation process but I am excited that He has amazing plans for my life.

But God wasn’t done proving that He wants to help me dream again.

Through a series of odd events, I ended up in Round Rock with an hour between appointments. Not enough time to go home and too much time to sit in my car; I looked for a coffee shop in walking distance.

I walked in and saw no line but for some reason felt I should use the restroom first. When I came out, there was a line and about a 10 minute wait. While I was waiting, a table opened up that was half-booth, the kind I prefer, so I took my tea and headed over.

There’s no sweeteners on the table and I’m not sure about anything. I lean over to my right and ask a man working on his computer. He showed me where to go and, when I got back, we struck up a conversation.

(Just showing how carefully God is playing with details to make this conversation happen.)

I meet Jeff, who works as a bridge builder between churches and communities to help the United Church service the community it’s planted in. (Austin Bridge Builders Alliance)

I’m not sure why but, when Jeff asked about me, I felt led to tell him about my family and my feelings of wanting to dream again but fear of what that will cost.

Jeff talked to me about his own experience. God is doing amazing things now but he’s 9 years in to pursing this dream with God and the first 9 months were really hard. He talked about holding his last $5, knowing he’s got a wife and kids to feed, when God told him to give it to a homeless man.

Beyond finances, 9 months without a job and without a ministry, it started to feel like Jeff had no value. And he’d been so sure God was the one who called him to Austin … so where did he mess it up?

When it seemed Jeff had nothing and was worth nothing, God assured him that He loved Jeff anyway and couldn’t love him any less. Then God told Jeff that if he accomplished the biggest, wildest dreams in his heart, God wouldn’t love him any more.

Jeff sympathized with my fear and said he cautions people about the cost of chasing big dreams with God. But he also smiled and told me that it’s worth everything it costs and more. He gets to see God making his dream of church unity come true and God is letting him play a part.

Jeff told me that God is the one with the Dream; He is running the project. But God has an irreplaceable role for me to play.

We talked till I had to leave for my next appointment. After that ended, I realized I’d left my phone at the coffee shop. When I went back Jeff was gone.

God interesected our lives for that brief moment to show me that He’s not done with me. And, scary as it sounds, I think I’m ready to ask Him for what’s next.

Commitment

It was a wake up call. I was looking at the scale and had to get honest. I’m heavier than I’ve been in years. One meal at a time, one skipped workout at a time, one excuse at a time… I’d gone from my lowest adult weight in January of 2017 to my highest in April 2018.

Sure, there were some circumstances. Life happens and sometimes there are setbacks. But I hadn’t realized how far the back had set from all those excuses piled on top of each other.

The good news is that this time I let my wake up call wake me up. (Goodness knows I’ve ignored plenty of similar “calls” to snuggle deeper into the comfortable blanket of my excuses.)

I started with getting on a meal plan. I actually lost 4 pounds the first week just replacing breakfast with a shake and a protein bar. (I ignored the voice claiming it’s all water weight and just celebrated the accomplishment.)

May 1st I signed up for 6 weeks of personal training; nothing crazy, just once a week to keep me focused and on track. At that initial weigh-in I was excited to see I’m now down 7 pounds in 16 days with just the slight adjustments in diet.

Today I did my first workout and my whole body and mind felt amazing walking out of the gym. It’s only been a few months but I’d forgotten how great it feels.

I’m back in the upswing.

But the reality though is that this is just a beginning. I’m sharing here so I’ve got one more reason to stay consistent. Nothing has changed in my circumstances but I’ve decided it’s time to be serious about taking care of myself again.

So here’s my commitment:

  • I’m going to get some kind of exercise every day.
  • I’m going to keep tracking meals in MyFitnessPal. (DoubleNs is my username if you want to add me.)
  • I’m going to drink 8 cups of water every day and work on getting more sleep.
  • I’m going to dig into scripture, personal growth books, and motivational audios.
  • I’m going to write and cry and let myself be real instead of trying to be strong.
  • I’m going to keep going even when I make a mistake.

Excited to share how I feel in six weeks!