Backstory: Paul was in what should have been a serious car accident Thursday morning. I, his lovely and dutiful wife, was awoken at 6:54AM to a terrifying phone call that started with the words “I’ve been in an accident” and ended with me leaving the house without underpants. Priorities, people. Stay with me.
At the end of this tumultuous day I pride myself that not once did I say we were “blessed” for the endless ways the day wasn’t as bad as it could have been. In a moment I’ll tell you why, but first take a look at this list…
He was driving the van, a car that was on its last leg. So much so that we had plans of trading it in right after the move anyway.
That said van is big. Roomy. Lots of space for absorbing impact.
That he was driving alone. The passenger seat was crushed.
That no one hit him on the driver’s side while he was spinning 180 degrees in incoming traffic.
That the tailspin landed out of traffic and not into the pole nearby.
That the blowhard that hit him listened when I told him I didn’t think they should be talking right now.
That we immediately found someone to pay us for the totaled van, thus paying the towing fee and avoiding additional costs.
That we’re already approved for a new car.
That we both work in West Knoxville and surviving with one car is feasible.
That he’s fine. Bruised, cut, gouged and sore… but fine.
But we’re not blessed. I can’t hear how “blessed” people are without thinking about the people that aren’t. Does God pick and choose? Why do some people get blessed and others get screwed? If God causes one, does he cause the other? To say that we were “blessed” implies that God directly had a hand in ensuring Paul’s safety… But did he not have a hand in allowing the circumstances that resulted in the accident? Why are Christians so prone to give God the credit for the good stuff, but quick to dismiss the bad as “bad luck” or “just the way things are”? God doling out “blessings” to some while others suffer feels a lot like the cool kid’s pool party that only half the class was invited to. Not everyone gets a goody-bag and where is God in that?
Why do I desperately want to believe that God swept down and kept the most important person in my world safe? The same reason we all do. Because it gives us a sense of control. It makes us feel like believing in God gives us an edge. He’s our lucky penny on interview day. Nothing can happen to us; we’re blessed.
About a year ago a friend of mine died unexpectedly in her sleep. Thirty years old and suddenly– she was gone. It shook the Clouses up for weeks. There’s something about tragedy that sends us careening onto the razor’s edge of our own mortality. We have no control. None. Nada. Believing in God doesn’t make me less likely to be one of those stories that breaks your heart.
Did God intervene and keep Paul safe? I don’t know. I’d really like to believe that. But was that a blessing upon our family? I don’t think so. Sometimes, people die. Often, actually. What is it then? Was today good luck? Karma? Coincidence? Happenstance? It all makes me wonder how active God is in the world. And that scares me. As much as we sing and talk about God being right here with us… When the rubber meets the road… Does it make any difference? I have no answers. But that hasn’t stopped me from sending up thankful prayers all day long to a god I’m not even sure is in the room.