I remember standing there, stunned – unable to think – unable to move. My right hand cradling my left arm tightly to my body. I didn’t feel any pain right away. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. My mom was screaming, “It’s going to blow!” and my 15-year-old brother was running towards the downed bike. Mom continued to scream at me, “Get on the porch – NOW!” I continued to watch in slow motion as my brother and mom worked on the bike, wondering why my mom was yelling. I felt numb, no pain, no nothing. It wouldn’t be until later that I would understand the severity of the situation.
My next recollection was the car ride home from the Emergency Room. I had never felt pain of this intensity. Every bump in the road shot arrows through my broken collarbone, dislocated shoulder and left arm which was broken in two places. Mom was trying to drive as gently as she could, even trying to cheer me up with a McDonald’s ice cream cone – vanilla.
It was then after the shock had worn off that she explained what had happened. After restless begging and against their better judgment, my mom and brother agreed to let me drive my brother’s bike alone. They went over the basics, but I was too focused on getting behind the wheel. “Yeah, yeah,” I muttered ready to get rolling. I remember the feeling of freedom I craved as I raced around the track in our backyard. Once around, twice around, three times around. The wind in my face, the power of the bike, this felt like heaven. At 18 I felt I had life all figured out and I just needed elbow room – on and off the track – to live the life I wanted to. I loved the feeling of no one telling me what to do – being in charge of my own destiny.
Then in an instant that all changed. I hit the front brake hard- without clutching -I was flung from the bike and the bike skidded to a halt in the other direction. My mom was torn as she watched the scene unfold. She started towards me but glancing towards the bike saw a liquid – gas pouring out. She and my brother ran toward the revving bike still stuck at full throttle knowing that every second lost put us all one step closer to a more serious calamity that had already occurred.
That realization of what could have happened left me alarmed. In the first days after the accident, sleep was fragmented as every moment induced incredible pain. I laid still in bed hour after hour not able to read or move due to the pain. My thoughts were anger and frustration at God. How could He do this to me? What did I do to deserve this?
Slowing though, I started to hear God’s gentle voice whispering, “I love you.” I turned a hard ear towards those quiet words time and time again, but a long, lonely recovery left me much time to reflect. God was working on my heart, chiseling the self reliance and self righteousness away.
The moments before the accident began to play in my mind. I remembered when I emerged from the house in shorts and a tank ready to ride that summer night, an argument ensued. My mom refused to let me on the bike unless I put jeans and a jacket. I was used to wearing her down with my restless arguing. But tonight, she wouldn’t back down – jeans and jacket or no bike. In a flurry of anger I remember stomping back into the house thrusting the required attire on and emerging again feeling smothered and controlled. I was technically an adult after all – I didn’t need my mommy telling me what to do!!
I’m sure she was dreading the outcome of handing me a helmet at that moment. Given my sour mood, I didn’t disappoint. Ever so calmly she held her ground – no helmet, no bike. Could anyone feel more smothered? I think not!
During my recovery, as I mulled those moments over in my mind, I remembered the words of the emergency room doctor, “Without a helmet she wouldn’t have had a chance. The helmet saved her life.” I realized the abrasions and bruising was minimal compared to the injures I would have sustained without the jeans and jacket, both now destined to the garbage pile.
Then I knew. I knew God didn’t do this to me. I did it to myself. I got on the bike. No one made me. My stubborn, rebellious self was heading straight towards disaster. God, in His grace, protected both my family and me that night. Thankfully, He is too loving and kind to let my mistakes go wasted.
I realized for the first time that my rebellion was just that – rebellion. I also realized that maybe I didn’t have life quite as figured out as I thought I did. The Lord used that painful experience to discipline me. I’m so thankful He loves me enough to discipline me and not leave me to my own disastrous ends.
Hebrews 12:5b-6 “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Lam 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Hebrews 3:15 “As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”