Almost 20 years ago I was hit by a drunk driver. Sitting at a red light in the middle of the night on my way to pick up Chef from work, I don’t remember why I was using his car, why I didn’t have my own, the car coming from behind didn’t stop. I literally never saw it coming. One moment I was waiting, the next I was in chaos. Blessedly another driver happened upon me and pulled me out of the car, called emergency people and stayed with me during the early moments of panic and disorientation until I left for the hospital in the ambulance where Chef met me. A sneak attack, I wasn’t able to avoid this crash. How to avoid another one? It took a very long time for me to feel safe driving again, the evidence of the crash not just visible on the car but on my psyche.
I remember after 9/11 wondering about every car on the road, our safety no longer a given, attacks possible in seemingly safe places. I recall driving and looking at the cars next to me, wondering if they would really stay in their lane, really stop at all the red lights, observe the rules of the road. To have war declared on civilians with an invasion in previously considered safe places meant I no longer was sure of other paces I once trusted. Everything, everywhere became suspect. What happened on 9/11 to me though as I rushed to school to pick up my kids is that I had a flat tire and someone stopped, a stranger came to my aid and changed my tire and sent me on my way without any payment or need for bigger thanks. Someone entered my chaos and stayed until the panic subsided.
I have noticed that during times of stress and chaos, I slow down. My senses become attuned to what I miss during normal daily life, an indication I need to pay attention. Things that normally roll off , stick. Vulnerability forces openness but I can chose what comes in. As much as I notice opportunities to be afraid and worry that all is lost, I still see the angels who come as regular folks and do the next right thing to calm me. My choice is whether to remember the crash or the one who pulled me free. I can fixate on the burning buildings or my spare tire safely attached. I can worry that every time I get in the car someone may choose to disregard the rules of the road or the millions of times they don’t. Holding on to the angels who visit during times of trauma is important. Seeing the ones who visit daily maybe even more so.
I’ve been riding around about to crash for a few weeks, on the edge of shame and empowerment, wondering who to trust and where the next hit was going to come from. I’ve been driving with a heightened sense of the cars around me, walking with a thinner skin. Crashes leave wounds, spare tires don’t ride as smoothly. In that condition I notice every bump, every time I hit a rock or stub my toe. A sideways glance or mistaken word, a little less friendliness gets blown into dangerous traveling. I see peril everywhere, my wounds pulsate.I forgot how many angels are already around me. I forgot to choose where I give my attention. I forgot that I don’t have to drive on some of the faster roads, go into some neighborhoods that are less than friendly. I forgot to give more attention to those angels who pull me aside with kindness. I forgot that rainbows show up after storms. And then, I hear the words of an angel who visits in the midst of my chaos. My friend Janet mentioned in passing, an off-handed comment from her that had nothing to do with me and everything to do with me, it pulled me from my personal wreckage or at least the crash I was heading for. “God is bigger than this.” Dear Lord, there are just some phrases that I should tape up around my home to see everyday, reminders to get centered not in my crazy but in my God. Blessedly God knows I forget my tape so angels appear in the shape of friends with the right words. God is bigger than this.
God is bigger than fear and worry and old wounds and itchy scars. God is bigger than hurtful words and flat tires. God is bigger than rough seasons and dry patches and cold spring weather and global concerns. God is indeed bigger. Also, God needs me to show up as an angel sometimes too. Because I suspect someone else may be driving scared, hurting with worry and wondering if we are going to observe the rules of engagement. God would most certainly appreciate if I get my head out of my past and into this moment where it is not all about me. Where unkind words reflect another’s hurt, where a swerving driver may be rushing to see an ailing relative, where scars that itch mean healing is happening. God is bigger than my nonsense, my ridiculous fretting. God is bigger. That will do me for today. I’m steering clear of all the rest. Now if I could just find some tape.
May your day be filled with a bigger God who reminds you of the angels all around. May worries and wounds fade away as the you choose to remember what is good. The rest is not worth our tape.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” Phil 4:8
Update: How awesome is this? The folks over at God is Bigger, an amazing venture started out of pain and the choice to see God as bigger than all the hurts, read this piece and sent me some bracelets to share with those who might need this reminder as well! Plum immediately snagged the green ones because, well he is Plum, but I have purple pink, teal and black if you would like to wear the reminder as well! Send me an email with your contact info and I will send it out to you. And everyone, go visit their site, great stuff! http://www.godisbigger.com/category-s/131.htm