7 Lessons from a Car Accident

7 lessons from a car accident

About a week and a half ago, I was in a car accident. Someone ran a red light and smashed into the passenger side of my car. There's something about a car accident that feels like a microcosm of life, and I've been thinking about several lessons I'm learning from it. In no particular order, here they are:

1. A sudden change of direction can cause hidden pain. Get help. A side impact accordions the spine in crazy ways. I have only one bruise but will have weeks of chiropractic care. It is not something that would just go away without the help and advice of someone else. Yet, what we recognize physically, we often don't recognize emotionally. When life takes a sudden change of direction, like a death or illness or job change, there may be inner damage and trauma not immediately apparent. If you are one who bounces back quickly, and "can handle it," push yourself to allow others in. There may be things under the surface that you can't yet see, that someone else could help you work through.

2. Feelings are not one-dimensional. Life is often terrible and wonderful at the same time. My car was totaled, that sucks. I was out of town when it happened, which was a pain. My body is still sore, and that is annoying... But also... I was the only one in the car, which means no one was on the passenger side, thank God. I walked away with relatively minor injuries- I didn't even have head trauma, and that is amazing. The other guy owned his responsibility in the crash, so it didn't become a he said-she said argument, which is so helpful. I am hurt and grateful, frustrated and relieved, sore and happy, all at once.

3. Be careful with your theology in times of trouble. I have been a pastor for years, and to be honest, I don't know how to describe God's role in this. Because here's what I know: I was lucky and many others are not. To say that "God protected me" can feel good, but what about my friends who weren't protected? Who were hurt badly or had a loved one die in a car accident? Did God not protect them? That feels gross to me. Especially when victims are kids. The most I want to say is that God was with me then and God is with me now. In the midst of the trauma and pain, joy and gratefulness, God is there. God is feeling with me and walking beside me through it all.

4. People are awesome. So many people's first responses were those of concern and practical care. Do you need to borrow a car? Do you need any help with the kids? How are you feeling? Is there anything I can do? There are many things around us and in the news that can cause us to question the goodness of humanity. Watching how people respond in times of crisis (though honestly, this wasn't even a crisis, just trouble and inconvenience) reminds you how awesome and giving people can be.

5. One change leads to another. Be prepared for the process. Sometimes we think of decisions as existing in one moment of time. We forget how one change can begin a process that can go on for quite awhile. One car accident meant figuring out what to drive home, embarking on a search for a new vehicle, making decisions about our budget, scheduling appointments with a chiropractor, reorganizing the schedule to fit the aforementioned test-driving and appointments into it... And all these changes led to pushing and pulling on other parts of our lives. We often don't know the consequences of a decision until after we've made it. Don't be surprised if things take more time or more work than you thought they would. Process is normal.

6. It is okay to rest. This one might not be difficult for you, but it is difficult for me. I want to hang out with people. I want to get stuff done around the house. I want to write. I want to do fun stuff with and for my kids. I want to study Scripture for future socratic gatherings. I want to do a lot of things. And I feel like since I walked away with minor injuries, I still should be able to do them. I wrote a post awhile back about comparison being the thief of healing and that's true of me right now. I think about that person whose injuries were worse and that person who is so strong, and I think "why should I need a nap?" But I do. If I listen to my body, I do. And I can. And it is good for me to do so.

7. Take your time. But eventually, get back in the car. Some people take awhile after an accident before they are able to drive again. And that's okay. But eventually, life keeps moving forward and you have to make the choice to move with it. It's true that anything can happen, but if you stay in fear of that, you miss out on too much. In the last week, I've explored a museum with my kids, dreamed about future possibilities, and enjoyed great conversation with friends, because I got back in the car. Let change awake you to the possibilities of life, instead of trapping you in the fear of death.

I'm sure there are more lessons I could list, but that feels like enough, at least for now.... 

Wherever life finds you this week, I pray that you can experience and learn from the joy and sorrow of it all. 

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A Glimpse of Hope

Slip through the door,
With eyes on the ground.
Another day
Shivering in the darkness,
Weary from the slog
Of trudging through this dry land.

But today,
Look around
And glimpse
Hope.

Shoots of green
Are pushing their way through
The dense cold ground.
New life is emerging.
Seeds that were buried
Have been broken
So that something more
Could be birthed.

Even the air feels different now.
Anticipation of the future
Is being carried in the breeze.
Breathe deep
The fresh wonder of
All that is being made new.

Everything is the same
And yet
Everything has changed.

This is spring.
This is Easter.

When Grace cracks open,
Hope pushes through,
And Joy emerges from the darkness.

This is spring. This is Easter. When Grace cracks open, Hope pushes through, and Joy emerges from the darkness.
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When Grief and Joy Collide

photo (8)
photo (8)

This is a picture of the lovely bunch of roses given to me by my husband yesterday, in celebration of our fourteenth wedding anniversary.

As children across the world were fleeing violence, as race riots were happening over the death of yet another black teenager, and as we were having a national discussion about depression and suicide, it was my anniversary. It was a day of joy and gratitude standing in stark contrast to the day of lament for so many others. Also? I was sick.

Life is never experienced one feeling at a time.

We give birth to babies while others struggle with infertility. We hate our jobs or lose our jobs while others get exciting promotions. We join a friend at a birthday parties after going to visit another in the hospital.

What do we do with all that?

There is so much of it that is out of our control. We cannot will the good to rain down on us instead of the bad. We cannot manufacture easy answers to why some prayers seem to get answers and some do not. We cannot ensure that days of celebration do not crash against times of disaster.

So what do we do? How do we handle the collision of grief and joy that greets us each day of our lives?

Lately I’ve been thinking about the importance of the word with.

With is used over 1300 times in the New Testament. The first time is in Matthew chapter 1, as Mary is described as being with child. The second is when that child is described as being God with us.

With is the word of the incarnation.

With pushes us to feel the presence of God in our midst, through every high and low moment of our lives. With knows that comfort is found less in the search for answers and more in the manifestation of grace.

God with us was Jesus in perfect love coming into a world of broken love, showing us that the two are held together in Him.

We are raised with Christ and indwelled with the Spirit, so that we might follow in the legacy of incarnation. To bear with one another in love, to sit with one another in grief, to join with one another in celebration.

God with us can give us the courage to be present with it all. Present with those we love, even when it’s hard. Present with the news, even when it makes us cry. Present with our kids, even when something else needs to get done. Present with our feelings, even when avoiding them would be so much easier. Present with our experiences, even when they conflict with what is going on all around us.

God with us allows us to be present with God in prayer with it all, whether lament, gratitude, praise, anger, clarity, or confusion.

With is not an answer, yet somehow, it feels like exactly what we need to know.

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