Why are we so bent on fighting for control over the events of our lives? It is a personal struggle which affects each of us in varying ways. My husband reminds me often, “Don’t worry about things you have no control over!” Great advice…the truth is, there are very few things we can actually control. Our attitude at any given moment, how we treat those around us, what food we put in our mouths to name a few. Oh, we can make plans, but there are other factors all around us which can change those plans in an instant.
n an earlier blog post, The Struggle for Control, I shared the story of when my husband, Gart, and I were hit by a drunk driver. At the time of the accident, I was eight months pregnant with our first child, Robert. This story is multi-faceted, and I was not quite ready to share the following details in my earlier post. Honestly, I’m never quite sure how they will be received.
The week after our accident I was recovering at home. Being eight months pregnant with broken ribs was no fun. My mom was staying with us to help with cooking and housework, etc so Gart could go back to work. Although thankful we were all okay, there were many moments of worry and anger. Worry over the baby, anger at the driver who chose to drive drunk, anger at the establishment where he and his friends had been drinking the night before… negative emotions all around.
One afternoon my mom began to share that something strange had happened to her the night before the accident. She had not wanted to tell me before for fear of upsetting me further. Doctors orders were for rest and calm. Not an easy task when you’re feeling worried and angry! Looking back, her timing was perfect and helped me work through difficult feelings.
Our first baby shower was scheduled to take place the day our accident occurred. My mom and Aunt Linda were driving up from Arkansas, so it was not unusual that we spoke on the phone the night before. Last minute details, what time they were leaving, what time we would arrive at the shower-a normal phone call. Except for the added air of excitement as we said, “Love you! See you tomorrow!”
For my mom, however, what happened next was the furthest thing from normal.
Through her tears, mom explained that right after she hung up the phone that evening before the accident, she heard a voice. Clear and precise words, ‘That is the last time you will talk to Kelley.” Obviously, she was shaken and tried to put the thought out of her mind. Where did that come from? Why would she think such a thing? But the voice would not go away, so she began to pray.
Her prayers continued through the night and during the drive to Oklahoma the following day. Pulling in the driveway at my in-law’s house, she immediately noticed our car was not there-we should have already arrived. My brother-n-law came out to greet them and of course, she knew instantly something was wrong. It is difficult to imagine the fear my mom felt at that moment…
A picture was taken of our car after the accident. The driver’s side smashed, the trunk pushed in, the windshield broken…but my side of the car looked like it had never been touched-not even a scratch. I remember someone commenting, “It looks like an angel was guarding your door.”
Psalm 91:11 says, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…”
I’m not sure how to adequately explain these events, yet I choose to believe. I believe my mom’s prayers were answered. I believe an angel was sent to protect. Did I actually see one? No. I don’t understand the how or why. Sometimes my thoughts wander, thinking about how differently things could have turned out. Truth is, none of us are guaranteed another breath, so I don’t dwell in that space for long.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14
Does this story impact the way I live my life each day? Not like it should, I’m afraid. As for today, I am thankful for my mom, who continues to be strong in her faith and persistent in her prayers. I am thankful for her wisdom in sharing her part of the story with me at just the right moment. And at this moment, maybe thankful is the best thing for me to be.
A local pastor from our small town was the first on the scene. He called for help, got us blankets, and held my hand while he calmly prayed. I’m thankful for the peace he brought in those frightening moments. I don’t know what we would have done without his help. The driver of the truck ran off, attempting to hide from police, but his two passengers stayed to help. My memories of being removed from the car are a little fuzzy-it involved a backboard and going through what used to be the back seat. Soon we were in an ambulance, headed for the hospital.
In the quiet of the ambulance, my thoughts were on the baby. Was he ok? We were relieved to feel some movement, but still so afraid. Time in the ER felt eternal, lying in that bed wearing a fetal monitor. Everything seemed to be ok with the baby. Gart was scraped up and bruised, and I had cracked ribs and nagging back pains. This was my first pregnancy. I had no idea labor could manifest itself in back pain…Thankfully the doctors were able to stop labor with medication, and we would only have to stay overnight for observation.
Robert was born one month later. His birth was not uneventful. Once again we experienced those feelings of having absolutely no control. I’ll save those details for another day…let’s just say, we call him our miracle baby.
Some might say we were blessed-after all, we survived. In the end, we walked away with minor injuries and a healthy baby boy. But I believe blessed is the wrong word. For if I was blessed in this outcome, how do I reconcile with dear friends who have lived through similar events with tragic outcomes? They prayed, had faith, and struggled just like we did. Yet things did not turn out the way we all would have wanted. So no, I do not say we were blessed. Though I am thankful for my husband and son, I must recognize that the outcome could have been very different. And I must continue to accept that ultimately I am not the one in control.
In the book of Jeremiah, chapter 10, the author speaks of an approaching storm of destruction. He talks of unavoidable injury and distress. But then he prays, “Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.” What a revelation. If this truth is allowed to sink in, maybe I will stop constantly seeking control. Will I continue to plan for the future? Yes. Experience joy in my circumstances? Of course! But also experience grief in losses? Most certainly I already have. Each is part of this path we all travel.
I claim no wisdom in understanding why things happen the way they do. But in those rare moments when I stop fighting so hard for control, there is peace. Psalm 139 says, “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand on me.” For me, this is a beautiful picture of security and rest. Trusting God instead of seeking control will allow his encompassing love to hold me, no matter the circumstances.
My desire–to give up this struggle and let fears fade as I rest in the shade of the hand that covers.