May 6, 2015
When I drive and hit the brake, I cry.
When driving alone, I cry.
When someone is coming up behind me at a light, I scream and I cry.
I don’t want to talk about it with people and thankfully, most don’t ask. All I would do is cry. They will think I’m being overdramatic and maybe I am.
The fact is just that terror is seething through me. I want it to go away but it won’t leave me alone. I’m drowning in this sea of terror, anxiety, and the fear of dying by car overwhelms my entire being. It’s taking over my life. I don’t want to be in a car or near a car. It’s a problem. I know. People are concerned, they tell me they’re praying for me. I’m praying for me too. I never expected to need God this much. Why isn’t He taking this all away? Why can’t he just erase this all from my memory?
May 19, 2015
Today while I was in the car with Wesley I think I blacked out. No. I don’t know what it was really. All I know was that I was sitting in the passenger seat and he sprayed the window with water to clean it and the world disappeared. I was instead sitting in my car, in the drivers seat, and feeling the first and the second impact of the car behind me. I heard my sister’s screaming and the pain ripping through my back. I felt that feeling of no control. Then suddenly I was back. I was back with Wesley sitting in his car in the passenger seat. I didn’t tell him. I didn’t say anything. He was still talking about something and I couldn’t tell you what it was. I couldn’t speak. I was too busy forcing the tears back.
How did I get to this point in my life? What if that happens again? What if I’m driving and it happens again? This wasn’t the first time it happened. I can’t clean my window without it happening. I haven’t told my mom. I haven’t told anyone. They would think there is something seriously wrong with me. My mom put me on some kind of natural medication so that I can sleep but every time I do sleep I have nightmares of car accidents and death. I can barely get in the car to drive. I am barely getting myself to school and back. I keep thinking it will get better but it’s only getting worse. Maybe I have PTSD. I don’t know…
Control. It’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life. God took a year of out my life to teach me a hard lesson about it.
In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says:
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Before I get into what this verse means to me, let me give you a little background information…
I grew up in private school. I learned all the right answers and all the right ways to live life. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Jesus. I still do more than ever. Yes, I struggled with a few things here and there–of course–like everyone. But I had never needed God. That was until July 2014.
I was driving my friend up from a movie when I wasn’t paying attention and t-boned a woman in an intersection. I hit the side where her 3 year old child had been sitting. The woman had screamed horrible things at me, my car was totaled, and I was given a ticket. I was a depressed mess for weeks but eventually I shoved it all into the back of my mind. I thought I was okay. I thought I was over it. When I look back I can see how OCD I became afterwards. Everything had a place and everything needed to be in its rightful place.
Leaving school a month later, I came out to the parking lot to find that a girl had backed into my car and shattered the back tail light. The whole bumper had to be replaced. It’s okay, I told myself, you’re okay. I shook it off, meanwhile I finished up a defensive driving class. I taught myself all the ways to avoid accidents. Researched it thoroughly.
A month or two later, I was behind a truck at a stop sign. He started to pull forward and then suddenly realized that he made a wrong turn and swung his car into reverse and backed up into me. I remember holding it together, exchanging insurances. My car was fine, but when I got back in the car I realized I was not. I cried all the way to church that morning. I called my mother and waited for her to come out and talk me down. She did, and I pulled it together. I acted as if nothing had happened, said my hellos, talked to all my friends. I was fine; I was okay. Everything was dandy. I stayed far away from cars. I became increasingly more controlling. I researched again how to avoid accidents. I specifically remember learning that if anyone hit me from the back to let go of the brakes. Let go of the car and let it move the way it was hit. If I touched the brakes, or the speed, or the wheel, it could end in death. I didn’t want to die.
Several months went by and one Wednesday we all went out to Sonic. I remember feeling a pain in my gut. This overwhelming feeling of something terrible is going to happen. I went home and I went straight to bed. The next morning I got up. The feeling and the pain was still there. I didn’t want to go to school, in fact, I almost didn’t go but I wasn’t running a fever. I sucked it up and began the drive with two of my sisters in tow. I flicked on the windshield wipers. As the world began to clear up again I slammed on my brakes. The car in front of me had almost stopped.
Why were we stopping?
I looked around, there was a truck besides me as we are speeding back up. I looked into the middle lane. A cop was cutting out in front of me. No lights whatsoever. I slammed on my brakes again swerving in my lane to avoid hitting him but he was still moving towards me.
That’s when she hit me. A girl slammed into me at 60 miles per hour. I hear my sister screaming bloody murder. I take my hands off the wheel and my feet off the brake just in time to be slammed into again. I screamed. That second time feeling the pain. My sister was already on the phone–just screaming into the phone. I grabbed it telling my Dad where we were and that we all looked to be in one piece.
I will never forget stepping out of the car. I saw everything around me. A van laying in pieces in the ditch with a man still inside. That is what the cop had been trying to get to. I realized that all the control I had gained was useless. There had been absolutely no way for me to have avoided the accident. My eyes connected with the cop running across the road to the van.
I stared as a firetruck pulled across and stopped all traffic letting only one car through the road at a time. The kids heading to school were rolling their windows down, taking pictures, and videos as they passed by.
I blamed the cop for it all. It was his fault. He panicked when he saw the van in the ditch. It was on video from the camera in his car. Part of me still blames him. I was angry. When my dad arrived at the scene I remember saying, “He’s a trained cop and he panicked and almost killed me.”
I didn’t feel bad when I realized he overheard me. I was seething. I went home and fell asleep. The pain had gone away quickly afterwards. I was pale for several days and acted as if it had never happened on the outside.
Inside of me became worse every day. Everything was out of control and I couldn’t do anything about it. The OCD weakened it’s grip and I was lost without it.
I was terrified. I was confused. I had pushed God away. I found myself in a predicament. I questioned how I got to such a helpless point.
So you may be wondering, how did I get my life back together? How did I take back the controls?
Well, I didn’t. The control in my life was something I never had in the first place.
The day I finally began talking about the turmoil inside of me, I was sitting in a small group at camp and the leader turned to me with a wink and says, “Alright, Gracie, now it’s time to fix all your problems.”
I became a blubbering baby as I spilled out these horrors of a year’s worth of misery. My fears of killing myself and others, the PTSD, the crying, and the screaming.
The leader looked at me and literally said, “I don’t know, I think you need counseling.”
It shocked me. I didn’t think I was that bad off. But I had this adult seriously looking at me and telling me that I needed help. I went home and told my mother everything. It was a God thing that she had just completed some counselor training. She began to counsel me. I hated it. Absolutely hated it. But I took everything she said to heart.
Slowly but surely, I began to heal and I learned some major things.
- God is sovereign. He is in control. I’m not. The moment I think I’m in control of anything in my life I’m believing a lie. God could choose to take my next breath away and I have to be okay with that and know that He’s got the best intentions at heart. I let go of a lot of my OCD tendencies. I’m not going to lie, I still struggle with anxiety, but when it begins to become more prominent I have to remind myself who is really in charge. Even yesterday I was in the car by myself and screamed as a car approached quickly behind me. I prayed and gave it to God and–shocker–the car stopped safety behind me.
2 Chronicles 20:6 And he said, “O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.
- I have to talk about my problems. God says that it’s not good for a man to be alone. We need relationships and we need to express our feelings to the people we have relationships with. I don’t have to tell everyone every detail of my problems, but I don’t have to suffer in silence either. The moment I opened up was the moment I began to heal. Not only does God want us to open up to other people but he also wants us to open up to Him. He is the one relationship that lasts forever.
Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, because I’m with you; don’t be anxious, because I am your God. I keep on strengthening you; I’m truly helping you. I’m surely upholding you with my victorious right hand.”
- God doesn’t give us trials for no reason. I have to trust that God has a purpose in the victories I have in life as well as the trial. My mom said something that stuck with me the other day. She said, “It would be interesting to see players on the football field kneel and give the glory to God when they fumble the ball.” I found this to be profound. We are all players on this field called the world. If I’m going to give God the glory for my victories, then he gets the glory for my failures and trials too.
Isaiah 41:13 13 For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
All of this boils down to one thing. Jesus needed to be the treasure in my heart. Instead, I had replaced Him with my need for control, fear, and silence. Jesus was standing there knocking on the door to my heart, but I couldn’t hear Him above all the noise.
In the little story, With You All the Way, by Max Lucado there are these 3 knights. The prince told them that they have to listen to the King’s flute to find their way through the forest to make it to the castle. He explained that there were only two of these flutes, one in his possession and one in the king’s possession. They both played the same song.
The catch is that the forest is the home of the Hopenots. They are “small, sly creatures with yellow eyes… they are not strong, but they are clever, and there were many.”
Each knight chooses someone to travel with them and each are very strong and whoever reaches the castle is honored and gets to marry the princess. Everyone waits anxiously for who will make it.
When the knight,Cassidon, rode in, the people were shocked that he had made it through the dark and deadly place. Cassidon told them that the Hopenots were clever and tried to lure him away by imitating the song that the king played on the flute. The only way he was able to tell which song was the true one was because his travel companion was the prince–the prince who played the exact same song as the king. Cassidon said, “As we journeyed, he played [the kings] song. I learned it so well that though a thousand false flutes tried to hide [the kings] music, I could hear the true song above them all.”
I want to be like the knight in this story. The one who treasures Jesus inside my heart so that when other voices like control, fear, and/or whatever else is screaming at me I can still hear God’s voice calling me into His arms and trusting that He is leading me in the right direction.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.