A Living Nightmare

Photo Credit: Xtremis

Photo Credit: Xtremis

Two weeks ago, I got the phone call that every parent fears. When I answered the phone, I heard the voice of a terrified, shaken and crying 19-year-old boy saying, “Mom, I was in an accident.”

I sat down, gripped the sheets on my bed, and braced myself for the worst. Obviously he was alive, but that’s all I knew. Through tears and jumbled words, he told me he had been hit by a car on his moped when someone pulled out in front of him.

I lost my breath. Hit by a car on his moped. Without a helmet!

As my brain struggled to process, my mouth began to speak. I calmly reassured him, “You’re okay, Kolbe. I’m right here, and I’m coming.

Those words, still fresh on my mind from my recent blog about this very same child, came out of my mouth on repeat.

But rather than saying these words to my little boy struggling to fall asleep in his own bed, I was saying them to my grown son - who lay scared, broken, in pain and alone in some unknown hospital bed three hours away.

Time seemed to stand still, like a freeze frame in a movie. Every part of my life came to a screeching halt. I was living one of my greatest nightmares: my child getting in a car accident.

I had to get to him. My heart was racing, and my mind still grappling. How could this be happening? My son? Hit by a car?!

I had prayed about this very thing for years, since the day my son first started driving. I’d prayed fervently that God would protect him from an accident; that He would place His angels around Kolbe’s car and all the other cars around him.

Yet it still happened. He did get in an accident.

My mom had prayed a similar prayer too - many decades earlier. Only her prayer was for her husband. She’d pray to herself, Oh Lord, please don’t take my husband. You’d never do that. We have nine children.

Her biggest nightmare was that her husband would die leaving her alone to raise their children.

But it happened.. Her greatest nightmare came true. My dad died suddenly of a heart attack when I was 13-years-old. On that tragic day, I lived one of my own nightmares too.

What mother should ever get the terrifying phone call that something awful has happened to her child? What wife should ever lose her husband? What child should ever lose a parent?

Nightmares are supposed to be terrible dreams that we wake up from. But sometimes it’s not a dream. It’s real. Sometimes we have to live our terrible dreams.

None of it makes sense to my human brain. Such agony and pain are inexplicable. Seemingly unbearable. And sadly, unavoidable.

Throughout the week of my son’s accident, I kept thinking to myself,

Sometimes God allows us to live our greatest nightmares.

If I’m honest with myself, in my prayers for God’s protection, I’ve often asked Him for something He can’t promise.

Because God doesn’t promise to protect us from suffering - He didn’t even protect his own son from it. If Jesus had a “worst nightmare”, it was a tortuous death on a cross. Only for Jesus, He knew he would have to live that nightmare. And it terrified him so deeply that he actually sweat blood the night before it happened.

One night my little girl broke down in tears, “Mommy, I’m so afraid that you’re going to die.” I asked, “Why do you think that, sweetie?” “Well, because your dad died when you were really young, so I keep thinking that could happen to me too.” I held her tightly, assuring her I wasn’t going anywhere.

“You’re ok. Mama’s here. I’ve got you.”

But inside I cringed. She was still too young and fragile to know I couldn’t promise I would never leave her.

One thing I could promise her -- was what I’d learned as a child (and keep learning now) -- that Jesus will never leave us, even if our worst nightmares come true.

Jesus never left my mom when she courageously had to go on living without her best friend and soulmate. He never left me when, as a young girl, I wondered how I’d survive without a daddy to take care of me.

Yes, I’ve lived some of my greatest nightmares. But I’ve lived through them. I did survive, and I even thrived, because my heavenly daddy took care of me.

I’m here today as living proof that no matter what nightmare we might have to live, we can live through it! Good can come from suffering; and life can come through death.

And as I made the three hour drive to my son after his moped accident, I felt a surprising and indescribable peace. The whole drive, I felt securely “held” – by the love, prayers and presence of family and friends saying, “Jenny, you’re okay. Kolbe’s gonna be okay. We’re here, and we’ve got you.”

And as I began to live through one of my greatest nightmares, and comfort my son who was also living one of his, I heard the the Lord reminding me, “You’re okay, Jenny, and Kolbe’s okay. I’m here. I’ve got you.”

Jesus never left me, nor did He leave Kolbe. From the moment I walked into the hospital until I took my boy home, I saw Him everywhere and in everything.

Because He is everywhere and in everything, even in our greatest nightmares. Just as He was with my widowed mother and her young daughter.

“Surely the righteous will never be shaken… They will have no fear of bad news.
Their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord”
Psalm 112:6-8

Sweet mamas, to all of you who’ve heard bad news; who’ve faced one of your own nightmares, and are courageously living through it with every bit of faith you can muster - whether heart wrenching loss, a devastating diagnosis, a painful divorce, a tragic accident, a life-altering disease, unexpected job loss, horrific abuse, betrayal or abandonment - You, my friend, have lived it.

But I want you to cling to the hope that you can and you will live through it! Because there is Someone who has already gone before you, and He walks with you now. Jesus lived through His own nightmare, so that we could live through ours.

Even though I walk  through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me...
Psalm 23:4