Recently I was rear-ended while on my way home from work. I was doing everything right—just hanging out in traffic like everyone else waiting my turn to approach a non-functioning stoplight. Then
I didn’t see it coming at all—it was totally unexpected. Because I didn’t have time to tense up and brace for the impact I just kind of rag-dolled it as my van lurched forward. My ears were ringing and I was dazed but I gathered enough thought to find the brake and press down…only to get love-tapped again by the truck behind me. Fortunately, when it all settled, the car that had been in front of me was long gone and uninvolved.
Van now in “park” I began shaking involuntarily. A young man approached my window and I rolled it down, letting in the rain that had indirectly caused the collision. When I was hit, my phone had been flung to an unknown spot in my van. As I tried to talk to the young man I must have sounded slightly crazy because I kept repeating “I just need to find my phone” and looking around the van in an unfocused manner.
The phone was my frantic priority. Nothing else mattered to me in that moment—my phone represented connection to my people. People who were depending on me, people who could help me. Holding my phone would mean I was less alone in a moment when I didn’t know what to do.
Another young man appeared at my window and I asked him to call my phone. Four attempted calls and one ungraceful climb over my passenger seat later, I had my phone in hand again. Security.
I’ll spare you the details about the two trucks involved that hit me, the interactions with the emergency responders, etc. Fast forward to me getting home safely in my smashed, but still semi-drivable, van later that evening. Eventually the shock wore off—to an extent. I went to bed optimistic that I’d feel much better in the morning. (spoiler alert: I did NOT feel much better in the morning)
I went through the next day anxious, grumpy, and in a daze. When I finally admitted to Steve that I wasn’t feeling like myself he made me go to the emergency room where I was diagnosed with a concussion. It could have been so much worse, considering the size of the other vehicles involved. I am so thankful that it wasn’t worse. But man, this concussion has been frustrating! Three weeks later and I’m still not fully over it. Also, three weeks later and I’m still driving a rental vehicle.
I was not expecting an injury at all, let alone one with a slow recovery! I have things to do! Why would this happen to me?
But the conclusion I’ve come to is this: it did happen. It was an unexpected impact that took me in an unexpected direction this summer. And what that boils down to is that I have an unexpected opportunity to also have an unexpected impact. If I handle the situation with confidence that God is still good then I have the opportunity to glorify Him through the situation. I also have the opportunity to talk to people I may never have run into before (pun definitely intended). Claims adjusters, car fixer people, medical professionals, etc. My positive reaction in the face of a crummy situation can have an unexpectedly positive impact. If I exude faith and peace in the midst of the storm then I am glorifying God regardless of my personal feelings for the moment. And finally, if I keep my eyes and heart open to the lessons I may need to learn then I can make sure that the situation is not wasted but rather redeemed.
I’m not going to lie, this concussion has been rough. Even just last night I had a flashback when Steve stepped too heavily onto the floor and startled me. Peace has been difficult to keep hold of while in the middle of minor anxiety attacks. It’s been a daily, or sometimes hourly, decision to surrender my irrational fears or disappointments. Not to mention the continuous brain cloud. But that’s okay. There is improvement and I can see opportunities for positive impact, even if it’s just my own character building.
We can’t plan every aspect of life. We can be moving along just perfectly when someone else’s poor decision impacts us. Or maybe it’s something else outside of our control, like the weather. But just because things aren’t going like we had hoped doesn’t mean we just shrivel up into ourselves and allow the situation to dictate our reaction. We are still responsible for our own response. We also have a God who gives us the strength to glorify Him even when our personal strength is sapped.
So please, do me a favor. Next time you are unexpectedly impacted by something in life look for the opportunity to make your own unexpected impact in return.
Dear Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for ensuring that our life stories are not as boring as we would be writing them. Lord, thank you for collisions, impacts, hiccups, and all other situations that help us build character and glorify you. Lord, please give us the discipline to remain positive despite our circumstances. Lord, please open our eyes to the purpose you have for us and the people you want us to impact. Lord, thank you for giving us peace and rest in the midst of situations that are not peaceful or restful. We love you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!