I have survived two life-threatening car accidents. The first is pictured above and the second was far worse.
I was 16 for the first when, after leaving my best friend’s house, I was speeding in the rain to my soccer scrimmage. As I went around a sharp curve, my back right tire skidded out and, as I tried to correct, my car flung around into the oncoming lane. I remember looking at the large van as I slammed into it and then went unconscious.
I was life-flighted to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, where my head was shaved and the laceration was stapled. Thankfully, and surprisingly, outside of a shaved head, I only suffered a torn MCL with a few weeks on crutches and sitting on the soccer sidelines .
The second was not as lucky and involved over a year of Intensive Care Units and therapy.
When life hurts, we often fall into the pity party, point fingers or, frequently, throw up our hands in resignation. It’s so easy to go fetal and lick our wounds when life hurts.
And my, my those accidents hurt.
Still, my struggle with the accidents and recovery, the scars I carry around reminding me of them, are only part of my story. Yes, they are a large part and in some ways frame the rest of my life, but I know they are not the end of my story.
We are not, nor will we ever be, defined by our suffering, by our past.
I am a wife. I am a mother to three beautiful girls. I was Pennsylvania born, Tennessee raised, and currently live in Nebraska. I am a runner. I played soccer through college. I love being outside, fellowship, and time in Scripture. I am a Catholic convert.
There’s far more to our story than our scars.
When we went into labor with our second baby, I was terrified that she, like our first, would be born in the front seat of the car. When the contractions hit the consistently painful and every-five-minutes mark, we raced to the hospital. As soon as we got checked in and settled down in our room, things started to slow down. Surprise. We were sent home to try to get a good night’s sleep.
Overnight and the next morning, things got ugly. The fierce pain continued throughout the entire next day but was never consistent. The following evening, after a day and a half of contractions, the pain was getting unbearable and we went back in. I had progressed pretty much zilch. Oh yay. As the contractions continued, the pain became so excruciating I started to get sick. After two days of labor and pretty much no progression, I was done. I got the epidural and our beautiful Rachel was born 30 minutes later. Childbearing is not for the faint of heart.
But then, then you hold your sweet new baby and you are undone. You watch your little one grow, you learn to love them in a way you never thought possible and you can’t imagine it any other way. They help drag you out of your self-absorption and give you a whole new perspective on why you wake up each day.
Your life is redefined by beautiful moments of hearing your baby giggle, watching them learn to take their first steps, looking at you with those beautiful ‘I need you eyes’ so much that you eventually think that maybe, just maybe, you’d be up for another. Screw car births, painful contractions, the mayhem of taking home a newborn. They are all temporary but this, this is forever.
Living fully in the present helps you forget the suffering of the past.
Isaiah 43:18-19 challenges us to “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Forever is composed of nows, not of yesterdays. Maybe one way to stop licking our wounds and being defined by our suffering is quite simply to try to move on. As best as we can, to stop dwelling on the past and focus on the new things He is doing right here. Right now.
My beautiful Rachel started Pre-Kindergarten this year and is absolutely beaming. She loves making new girlfriends, showing off all of her dresses, and is already hounding me to invite them over for playdates. Love this girl. Love her heart.
I am launching this blog and website to share my scars, but also to share what He is doing right now; to try to see the goodness in both.
I would love to hear your story of how you’ve stopped being defined by your suffering and your past. What has helped you switch gears and behold the new things He is doing?