I had just left my sister’s apartment and was about a mile away from home. The light had just turned green for me; I started to move and make my turn when another driver drove into me. By the time I realized what was about to happen, the impact had occurred. In that instant, it was as if everything had stood still. I heard the car crashing into mine and inexplicably, I was enveloped in a great covering of peace and felt as if I had been scooped up into safety. Instead of the usual “seeing your life pass in front of your eyes” experience, my mind oddly wondered about how many other accidents and impacts God had rescued me from.
When the car had stopped and I came to myself, the air bags had deployed and the fume they emitted was everywhere. Shortly after, a young man stopped his car, walked over to my side and asked if I was okay. As my door was all damaged, he went around trying to help me out. Minutes later, the ambulance and the police officers arrived on the scene, then it was lights on – action. All of a sudden, it got much louder and very chaotic.
I was being bombarded with questions and then my body started to respond with pain. My pressure and heart rates naturally went through the roof. Then off to the hospital, followed by more questions, a battery of tests and hours into the next day, I was released to go home but what followed were intense headaches and disorienting pressures in my head; then it was off to more doctor’s visits, more imaging tests, coordinating with insurance company, work, transportation, etc.…Then all the warning bells started to go off — I was about to lose it. I found myself at a place where I urgently needed to decide whether I would allow that event to turn my life upside down or take a step back and refocus my mind.
As hard as it may be to distance oneself from something that is directly affecting one’s life, that was exactly what I decided to do. So, I took a pause, quieted myself down and proceeded to:
Count My Blessings — First and foremost, I am alive. Things could have been a lot worse. Some couldn’t believe the extinct of the damage to my car and I, first hand, suffered the effects of the impact on my body. Yet, despite the physical injuries and alteration to my routine, my soul has been sustained.
From the night of the accident to now, I have had angels walking this out with me. My sister and her friend met me on the scene and spent the night at the hospital with me. I had the most caring first responders and the days that followed, friends and colleagues were in queue to bring meals, drive me around; and for the nearly three months, He has provided in so many other ways.
Surrender to the Greater Plan — It is clear as day that God isn’t the originator of the tragedies and heartbreaks we experience in life. He, however, often uses them to reveal Himself to us and/or to perfect His character in us. These tragedies can be excruciating and suffocating but sometimes they serve as wake-up calls. They can become opportunities for us to evolve, to strengthen our faith and for God to vindicate His name. For His Word is yes and amen. His Word does not return to Him void.
Holding On to What I Know is True — After realizing I was at my breaking point, I turned to what I knew would bring me solace – to what would feed my soul; namely, time in silence, contemplation, worship and community. I was grateful for the disciplines I had been introduced to and which I had been keeping through the years, for they’d been tested and have been pathways that led me to Shalom — the peace that is complete and which surpasses all understanding.
“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, Who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle…”
Move Onward and Upward — When one’s life gets sidetracked unexpectedly and one is physically incapacitated, falling prey to emotional discouragement is quite easy. I will admit that at first, I was irritated, I asked “what now” and I felt drained. It all seemed unfair and at some point, I just wanted to stay in bed. Yet, I also knew that I had to keep fighting; I needed to stand firm and not simply agree with how things were. I needed to keep my eyes on the end result, on the Eternal One and make a pact with myself to choose life every day.
What is your chaos? What are the noises that are making you dizzy and rendering you incapacitated?
Maybe you are a mom rushing through the end of Summer, trying to get your kids ready for the upcoming school year. Maybe it is running to and from multiple jobs in order to keep afloat. Maybe the noise come from disfunction at work or your place of worship. Maybe it’s dealing with false accusations, sudden losses or trying to discern what to do next.
From time to time, difficulties will come out of nowhere and smack us right in the middle of the face. There will be instances when they will even take the wind out of our sails. Yet as I’ve learned through the years, these are the times when we need to defer to our emergency response plan and revert to our warrior stance.
What is your emergency plan? How do you first respond when the storms erupt?
When chaos erupted unexpectedly, after reining in my emotions, I woke up to the reality that any resolution or subsequent step to remedy the situation, required that I make an attitude adjustment and be ready to decide; for whatever rescue plan I had, began with my decision. As, Viktor Frankl, one of my favorite authors, once wrote “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. And as Moses, in Deuteronomy 30 reminded us, everyday we are presented with two options — life and death — and it is up to us to decide which one we’ll choose.
I have set before you life and death…Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life.
I must admit that although the command to choose life is pretty clear, making the choice is not always or naturally an easy task. Nevertheless, if you are at an impasse where you don’t recognize your life anymore or you are struggling to be in your right mind or to get back on your feet, don’t give up just yet.
You may have heard of the great Elijah, who despite his many prophetic exploits and great standing with God, fled to a cave after Jezebel threatened his life. As read in 1 Kings 19, Elijah wasn’t only fearful but he also started to look down on himself. He saw such little value in his life and his abilities that he sat down and prayed for death to come. Yet, even in Elijah’s weakness and despair, God showed him grace and deployed His own emergency response plan for him. He sent him nourishment for his body, guided him back to restoration and when the time came, summoned Elijah back to finish the course set before him.
Furthermore, Moses didn’t just give us the command to choose life [to live, to be healthy, to prosper, to find justice, to be joyful, to have peace]; he also gave us the steps to help us do so, namely — to love the Lord, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him. And, thankfully, even in those instances when we respond differently or, like Elijah, opt to run away, God still shows up — after the wind, the earthquake and the fire — in a gentle whisper, to strengthen, remind us who we are and send us on our way.
If somehow you find yourself in the middle of a chaotic situation, I pray you find immediate relief and respite. If you are enjoying a season of peace, thank God for that and continue to hold fast to Him. As Moses instructed and as Elijah demonstrated, in time of chaos or peace, may you choose to listen to His voice, to continue to fight [intentionally & with a strategy] and may you choose to stay the course.