My emotions are all over the place today. I am thankful, frustrated, on the verge of tears, overwhelmed, but mostly thankful. Thankful for family, cookouts, God’s protection and a good laugh. We had a wonderful Father’s day filled with those who live near and college aged kids who drove home. We laughed until we had tears in our eyes telling stories with the dramatic flair some people might think was over the top. We can’t help it, it’s a part of our make-up, our DNA.
The day before we were to celebrate Fatherhood and family, we weren’t in the mood for laughing, maybe that’s what made our time together so sweet.
We were driving to meet our oldest child, and only daughter, in Gulf Shores to run in a 5k where the money raised went to help a charity that supports ARC. I love being a part of events that support a good cause. It was very early when we got up, four AM to be exact. We dressed while it was still dark outside and left the house before the sun was up; early mornings are not my favorite, but for some reason my life seems full of them. I’m pretty sure the Lord is trying to teach me something by getting me up early each day. Apparently I haven’t learned that lesson yet because I keep having to get up before the sun.
Wish I was a quick study!
As we were picking our way along through winding country roads, my phone rang. The picture that popped up on the screen told me that it was my daughter. If I hadn’t been distracted by the hour and having reception in the boonies, I would’ve wondered why she was calling. We’d already talked and nailed down the “plan” for finding each other when we got to the race and normally she wouldn’t have called again. But, because I was distracted, I answered the phone somewhat cheerful, not expecting to hear what was on the other end of the line.
You know there really is no way to adequately describe the feelings that grip your heart when you know your child is in trouble. The earth and all of its demands and noise seem to fade into the background, the sound of their voice and the words they are speaking come into clear focus and that’s the only thing that matters in that moment.
It reminds me of a long night a few weeks back when my son called me after he’d misjudged a curve in the road and he found himself in a pasture. He was in the middle of the country and there were no street lights, only the head lights from the car. He was emotional and shaken up from the incident, but thankfully not hurt. I sat up most of the night trying to contact a local police department to get help pulling the car out of the field. After talking to two different police departments and receiving texts from my son simultaneously, I was relieved when he texted that a young guy driving by in a pick-up truck offered to pull him out. Later we learned that he went through a ditch, a barbed wire fence and metal stakes before landing in the pasture.
I didn’t fall asleep until he was home hours later.
With such little sleep, the day was sure to be a long one, but I kept reminding myself that it could have been so much worse. When I walked by his room the next morning headed to work, I could see his hair sticking out from the top of the covers and my eyes filled with tears. I know it could have gone very differently for me, I could have been sitting in a hospital room somewhere, but instead I left my house groggy and thanking God for that tuft of hair.
He was home, safe and sound; everything else seemed small in comparison.
I could hear the fear in my daughter’s voice, I knew immediately something was the matter. All the air left my lungs. I don’t remember the exact wording of the conversation, but I know it went something like this…
“Momma, I hit a car.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine, but it did some damage, what do I do now?”
“Where are you?”
“I’m sitting on the side of the interstate.”
“You need to call the police and get your insurance card and driver’s license ready.”
“Yes, ma’am, I’ll check with the other driver and call you back.”
I could hear the tears in her voice, my heart was so heavy, I wanted so badly to help but I was at least an hour from where she was sitting on the side of the road. All the recent memories of my son being stranded in the middle of the night crowded into my heart and I came face to face with my limitations, my inability to do ANYTHING to make a difference. Old fears, the loss of my mother, the darkness of the unknown, they all felt like giants that had been looming in the corners of my heart, waiting for a chance to pounce and they came running at me all at once.
I was so afraid.
Sometimes I feel that I’m holding all this fear at bay until something happens that opens the door and I’m struck with my mortality and how vulnerable I really am. Like I am fooling myself to think that I could live a fearless life. I rebuke myself over and over, but I still fight the battle against fear almost daily.
After I hung up the phone with my daughter, and my fears felt as if they would completely consume me, a thought calmed my heart.
Of course, pray, pray and pray some more. I am so grateful in moments like that the Lord hears even our weakest and smallest cries. He knows our hearts and he knows what we are able to bear and He comes to the rescue. I think my prayer must’ve sounded something like this…
“Lord, I can’t be there, but I know YOU are already there, please be close to her, may she feel your presence and give her a sound mind so she can talk to the police. Thank you so much for no injuries, I am so grateful. Amen”
There wasn’t much in my heart that moment besides fear, and I found myself remembering that’s exactly how it was the night my son ran off the road. There wasn’t much left to give then either, the only thing on my mind was safety and survival. But, with the simple whisper of the word “pray” I was reminded that God IS there already and he hears the cry of my heart before I even utter a word.
“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24
Thankfully, my oldest was fine. She gave her statement to the police, navigated safely to our meeting place and even managed to run half the race. She was still shaken up from the ordeal, but God was the strength she needed exactly when she needed it.
Oh, and a big thanks to the guy in the limo golf cart that gave her a ride to catch up to the rest of the runners, that was an unexpected blessing.
You just never know what a day is going to hold or what you may have to face. I am more aware of this with each sunrise and sunset. The Lord knows what’s ahead and I want to continue to lean closer into Him. He is our sustaining strength and our “calmer of nerves.” He gives us words when we need them and courage to face another minute.
Some things in life just take longer to work through than others, like fears. I don’t know if you ever really become fearless as much as you learn where to turn when the fears start to rush in. I do think seeing God work and knowing He will take care of our troubles makes us rest easy at night, but that comes after we’ve lived through some “stuff.”
It takes time.
Well, we just got one car out of the shop and it looks like we will need parts for another. But, like my daddy always says, “it’s just stuff and you can replace it, it’s the people that matter.”
This passage is a personal favorite…
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.