I was 22 years old & my life flashed before my eyes.
“I should be dead,” I said, phone held up to my ear by a trembling hand.
It had just stopped raining after a short summer shower & I was making my way back home after coaching girls’ Cross Country at a local high school. Merging onto the interstate required me to take a circular on-ramp to then join the other vehicles traveling 65-80 mph on their way to who knows where.
I accelerated as the circular ramp neared the merge mark, blinker on, eyes on oncoming traffic, prepared to join the far right lane. What happened next forever changed me.
My tires lost traction and I spun straight out into oncoming traffic. Facing northbound on a southbound highway I saw a white pickup truck, a Semi, and a car coming straight for me. Assuming this was it, the way I would die, I placed my hands over my face and waited for impact. Fear had paralyzed me. A couple seconds (that felt like hours) went by… and nothing. I opened my eyes & saw the white pickup truck had stopped traffic in my lane and was frantically waving me to turn my car around and GO. I assume the Semi and other car must have gone around me, switching lanes to avoid collision. I somehow managed to get my car heading southbound again and drove to the nearest exit where I found a gas station to park and collect myself. Shaking uncontrollably, my heart raced so fast that I thought it might just burst. I almost threw up. It hurt to breathe. But there I was, doing just that, breathing, alive, unscathed.
‘What do I do?!’ I thought. Should I call 911? No, there was no wreck… but how do I just go on with life and drive to my “post-college house” like nothing happened, like I wasn’t just nearly killed?! I managed to dial the numbers to call home, hopeful to reach my mom. My then 15 year old brother answered and reported mom was away. I tried to explain to him what happened with my shaking voice and intermittent sobs and just kept saying, “I just died, I should have just died…” He assured me that I was in fact very much alive and that I would be okay…in a 15 year old boy sort of way. (Thanks Brian!)
It took a while, but eventually I was able to muster up the energy and courage to drive the rest of the way home. That night I wrote out, on yellow loose leaf lined paper, my life goals & philosophies. I saw the event that happened earlier in the evening as my “second chance at life”, another shot at REALLY living, at living with PURPOSE.
The guy I had just started dating (my now husband) thought I was nuts. I talked of moving to Africa and all kinds of “crazy” thoughts, hopes, dreams. I had this newfound zest for life, this desire to make a difference, to be ON MISSION for God. To stop drifting through life, allowing the winds of the broken world to determine the direction of my sails.
But then a familiar thing happened… LIFE… and as time and life went on my newfound enthusiasm for living against the ways of the world, on purpose, for God, faded away. I got distracted by the demands of day to day life and fell back into old routines and habits: people pleasing, perfectionism, desiring control and predictability, and stifling any dreams of living differently (out of fear).
I did not move to Africa. I did not really change the way I was living at all. I tucked that yellow lined loose leaf paper away and continued my life, my way. Every once in a while I’d pull it out and think to myself “some day”.
But now, looking back, I wonder how the past 10 years might have read had I put fear aside and truly lived out God’s calling on my life. Instead of following the crowd and pleasing the world, playing it safe.
As Priscilla Shirer says, “Most disobedience involves a simple choice to stay put.”
I stayed put. For about 7 years. And worked myself into a deep rut.
Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
You see, that second chance He gave me, back in 2010, was in a sense wasted for a time, life lost, years lost. Not literally, for I was very much alive practically speaking, but I was not TRULY living during that time.
Not until about 2017, when I surrendered the way I was living to Him. The anxiety, the depression, the fear, the need for control … I handed it all over to him & prayed prayers like:
“Take my life and make it Yours.”
~ ~ ~
“God, I want to see You.
God, I want to hear You.
God, I want to know You.
God, I want to follow hard after You.
And even before I know what I will face, I say YES to You.”
~ ~ ~
“Not my will, but Yours be done.”
Through surrendering my own life to Him, I found LIFE.
Surrender is not giving up. It’s giving over. It’s letting go. And it is pretty amazing (most of the time).
I’ve felt more alive in the past ~3 years than ever. Living on His terms has brought so much peace. JOY. Love.
He did not send me to Africa. Instead, He inserted me into a community very much in need in my own “backyard”. And there I have found my purpose, I have given and received more love than I could have imagined, and I have seen Him- REALLY seen Him… I have no doubts anymore because there is no explanation for the amazing things I have witnessed on this journey or how the heck it has all worked out so well, except for Him.
If you feel far from God, lacking purpose, or lost, call out for Him. Surrender.
“If you’re (still) alive, there’s a purpose for your life.” (Rick Warren).
Are you alive? If so, what is God’s purpose for you? Why are you (still) here? Until you ask yourself that, life won’t make much sense. We are all here for reasons other than to work, make money, retire, and die.
For now, my purpose is loving on these babies. And I couldn’t be happier that He chose this path for us. It is not always sunshine and rainbows but it is always worth it. Currently, over the past 9 weeks, we have gotten to witness a frail ~4.5 lb baby turning into a smiley, chunky (~10 lb!), double chin warrior princess who reminds me everyday how good He is. I wish I could show you a picture, because she is so sweet!