parenting spiritual

If Not, Would I Still Think God is Good?

1:07 PMHeather

"I love you!" I shouted at him as he left.

"I love you, too!" he answered, as always.

"Drive safely!" I added -- also part of our regular script -- just as the door slammed shut. I give the quick command for safety as if it would somehow meld into a force field protecting my teenage driver. I know it seems ridiculous, but I compulsively add the desire for safety every single time he leaves.

It was a split second. I mean, truly, only a split second. A hesitation in my spirit that compelled me to jump up and run into the driveway to tell him not to go. It was so quickly dismissed that I didn't even remember it until about fifteen minutes later.

When my phone rang.

And I knew. I knew when I saw my son's name on the incoming call. I knew that this was the call no mama wants to receive.

"Mom, I've been in a wreck," his voice was calm. Slightly agitated, but calm. "I'm okay. But I think the car is totaled."

"But you're okay? You're sure you're okay?" I asked, hoping I was somehow coming off as calm as he was. 

He answered in the affirmative again and then told me which intersection I would find him. I told him I was on my way. 

As I raced out the door, I hollered back directions to my daughter to call her Daddy and give him the news, quickly reassuring her that her brother was okay.

I grabbed my keys off the hook, got in the van and started the car. And then sat in utter confusion. 

Where is Main Street? How do I get to Main Street? 

I've only lived in the area for over 20 years. And my mind could not compute where Main Street might be or how to get there. During the ten minute drive, I continually corrected my route, realizing I truly was beyond logical thinking. Repeatedly, I asked the Lord for protection for my son and for there to be people who would put him at ease until I could get there. Like some broken record, I said it over and over.

The late May day was a beautiful mild spring day, unusual for Texas. A gentle breeze swayed the trees and the promise of better things was held in the flowers blooming in yards and street medians. It should have been a good day. It should have been a relaxing, sipping sweet tea on the porch kind of day.

But it wasn't. And the calm from my son's voice belied the scene I witnessed as I pulled up to the wreck. Nothing could have prepared me for it. It was the sort of horrific scene on the side of the road that makes you gasp.

Except my son was in the middle of it. There. Standing, talking to a police officer. In the middle of over a dozen emergency personnel working the scene. With three fire trucks, an ambulance and multiple police cars. And there was my son's car, just behind a small SUV that sat on the driver's side.

I was looking at the undercarriage of a small SUV. The other car had rolled to the driver side.

I could not make sense of what I was seeing. I uttered a word I would never say in church. And threw my van into park as I sprinted toward my son.

The only thoughts I had were, "Dear God. What has happened here? What trauma has my son just seen and been a part of? Are there people trapped in that car? Did everyone live?"

I grabbed him in a tight hug and then pushed him out in from me so I could look him over, head to toe. Just like the first time I ever held him and counted his fingers and toes.

Not a scratch. Not a wound. Not a mark to be found on this treasure of mine.

"Are they okay? Is everyone out?" I asked the police. I was holding my breath and deeply exhaled when the officer said it was only the driver and she was safe and unharmed.

It was unfathomable to me. This young man who will always be my baby. In the middle of the chaos. Standing strong and sure, answering every question by the officer. And reassuring me. Telling ME it was okay.

My 17 year old. The teenager on his way for a soccer workout. He was being the adult.

You can officially fire me now as the Mom. 

Because my son was far more composed than I was. He grabbed me close and held me by his side for a moment, sensing my need to be propped up. I was strengthened by his tight hold and it was enough to kick me into gear. I began giving direction to clear out his car of all belongings, as I called my husband and then stopped to talk to the firefighters and police to try to sort out what had happened.

My son was north bound on a green light. The other driver was southbound, turning left in the intersection at a flashing yellow arrow. She failed to yield. And my son couldn't brake fast enough to avoid the impact. He had the where-with-all to think, "if I can slow down enough, maybe I will just clip it on my passenger side." I could see the skid marks on the road where he tried to break. His airbag deployed. He later told me that he left the car running, threw it in park and then ran to the overturned SUV. He and a few bystanders tried to free the other driver. But they couldn't get to her. By then, she had huddled into a sitting position on the driver window, which was on the ground. Her vehicle rested inches from the curb. We wonder what might have happened if the car had smashed into the curb on that driver's side where she sat. The fire fighters had to break out her back window for her to climb out.


Without a scratch.

Not a mark on her either.

The paramedic turned to me and looked me in the eye to tell me, "M'am, you've raised a very polite young man. He handled everything beautifully."

Oh, yes. I take full responsibility. The mom who couldn't remember how to drive to Main Street, uttered a cuss word repeatedly and then needed consoling by my teenage son who had just been in a car accident.

Why yes. I'm a rock star. I take full credit! He obviously gets his calm demeanor from his frenzied mother.

The whole situation still feels surreal. Two days later, I just cannot compute it. So many thoughts are vying for my attention.

The hardest one is that I could have lost him.

What if the call came from a police officer or emergency personnel because my son couldn't call? What if he had been seriously injured? What if the other driver had been? What if the other car had small children or babies in it and someone lost their life? And what if my son had seen that or even been the responsible party in the accident?

What if?

If not a good outcome, would I still think God is good? That is the question that is haunting me. Would I still settle in to this glorious feeling of gratitude that God is in control? Would I still look heavenward and proclaim his sovereignty? 

What if? 

I would like to think that I would still turn my eyes upward to my Father. I would like to think that I would still proclaim him good even if life was not. I would like to think I would still choose faith. It's easy for me to contemplate this situation because I have the luxury to do so. Sitting from a place of a good outcome. Holding my son near me. While some of you long for such a thing.

I cannot fathom. I cannot imagine how you feel or how you put one foot in front of the other, when stuck in the weighty quicksand of grief. 

I feel a renewed sense of responsibility to never take for granted the luxuries that I have. 

That night, I wanted to sit in a tight little circle, with each of my three children tucked safely under my arms and then refuse to ever let them go. Anywhere. Ever again.

I woke up the next day, thankful. In the aftermath of what could have been a very different outcome, I am feeling the inexpressible joy of gratitude. For things that I had pretty much ignored in my usual bustle of life. Like having him here to cook for, clean up after and assist with all manner of needs.

It's so cliche. How life is fragile and fleeting. As I wonder if I would still think God good if he had chosen a different outcome. 

I am thankful that we had the recall on the airbag fixed just a few months prior. And that the airbag worked. I am thankful that the other driver was safe and unharmed. I am thankful for the kind and friendly and amazing emergency personnel. I am thankful that no one was in front of me every time I course-corrected on the drive to the accident scene. I am thankful for bystanders who rallied with my son to try to help. 

I am just thankful.

And as I went into his room to wake him the day after, I was thankful. For the luxury that it is. To wake my son up for another day. 

I uttered the millionth prayer of gratitude.

"Thank you for sparing my son, Lord. Thank you for preserving his life. Thank you for every time you prompt me to pray for my children's protection."

Then it hit me.

God spared my son. 

He did not have to. He did not owe that to me. I did nothing to deserve such a marvelous display of mercy. I did nothing to deserve the miracle.

And this Father who spared my son did more for me than he did for himself.

Because he did not spare HIS son. He did not spare his only son because he wanted to make us his children.

What kind of love does that? What kind of Father is this? Who gave up his own son for me? For you? 

And then he pours out grace upon grace.

To protect my son and perform a miracle on a regular day in May.

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