When they bring the wreck to your front yard
Thank God for tow trucks. I am grateful for the big hooks on the enormous chains and the back end that leans up and slides off a busted up car. They do their job and I am grateful. But this time, I didn't want the wreck brought to my front yard. I wanted it somewhere else, a problem for someone else to deal with, or at least hidden behind some trees so that I didn't have to be reminded of what it represented.
Last Wednesday, my son was in an accident, and when I got the call I threw down the hair color and bra that I was about to purchase in Walmart and ran out the door with my other 4 children to get to him. He was shaken, and upset, but he walked away with a bump on his head and a bruise on his arm after being hit by an 18 wheeler carrying 4000 gallons of gasonline. It was a miracle and I give all glory to Jesus for his safety and I am convinced that big strong angels turned his car just at the right moment so that we could wrap our arms around him and have him safe and whole instead of visiting him in the hospital, or even not having him in our arms at all. It was sobering and frightening and a reminder of what matters in this life and how quickly things can change.
The real heartbreak for him here is his car, a 1988 300ZX that he has spent the last year or so redoing, spending many nights until 4am with his arms covered in grease. Although he didn't spend much money on it, literal blood, sweat and tears went into that car and he had to now see it crumpled up next to a guardrail. I felt sick to my stomach and held my big strong football player son in my arms while he wept. It was hard- I don't care anything about that car personally except that he loved it and now it was gone.
So we waited on the tow truck, and watched it drive off to take the car somewhere for a few days because we had a school retreat to attend the next morning early...we would deal with it when we got home.
And then came yesterday. Somehow, seeing that wreck on the back of the truck coming down the driveway was much worse that seeing it on the side of the road. The last time it had come down the driveway, my son was driving it home from school, T tops out and music playing, walking in smelling like a stinky locker room but with a smile on his face. Now he was expressionless.
We had to find somewhere to put it, and it is an eyesore. Because of so much rain lately, the ideal spot behind some trees was too wet and the tow truck couldn't get back there. The only choice was right near the driveway, in plain sight. I can't get into my van now without seeing it parked there, crumpled and sad, and it's in full view of my boys' bedroom window.
I don't want my wrecks out in the open.
When I see this car, I can feel all the things it stirs within me- fear of what could have been, gratefulness that my baby is ok, sadness at all of the hard work now lost, worry about how to provide him something else to drive, and a million other things swirling around in my heart and head.
I would rather have it hidden and put away, neat and tidy, ready to move on to something else, but there it is and there it is going to stay. I worried about Joseph seeing it right in front of him and how it would make him feel so bad. But an amazing thing began to happen yesterday afternoon, and today, as we realize that wreck is just part of our landscape, for now.
Joseph, and his dad, began to look at it... to really look. To see beyond the damage that had been done to what was salvagable. To use their knowledgeable vision to pick it apart in their minds and decide what could be used for something else, or in another car, or sold... so many available options, and not being a car person, most of them were gibberish to me, but I could hear that there was a spark to the conversation instead of the deadness and pain I had heard before.
What had been just a wreck was now a possiblilty.
Isn't that just God's way?
I want the landscape of my life to look so nice, and neat, and clean, with all of my wrecks hidden away. Yes, they happened, and God spared me, now let's move quickly on and not talk about it anymore. But this is not acknowledging the value of the wreck itself. What could be inside that I need to use later on down the road? What might now be unusable to me but could be priceless to someone else if I have the courage to share it? What parts that are left might be just what is missing in some other situation in my life? It takes a knowledgable vision.
And I just don't have that on my own, not only about cars but also about my life. I have to go to the One who has a different perspective, and who recognizes that something I think is just junk is really a treasure. The only way to find out what is worth saving in the mess is to have the courage to leave the wreck out in the open, to look at it, to decide that it might not be pretty but it does belong to me and it has to be dealt with, and there is no way that I can handle it alone.
I don't know what my son is going to drive next. I hope that it is something that he loves and has invested in like he did this car. I hate to see that he is hurting and having to feel this grown up kind of disappointment. But this wreck is not the end- that metal and plastic and glass out there is a more than a crumpled mess- it's a life lesson. He is going to see that God can use our biggest messes to show us how much He loves us, how big His grace really is, and that with Him our endings are never really endings... they are beginnings of something new He wants to do. He is going to take the pieces of something broken and with God's guidance and his daddy's help, he is going to drive away one of these days in a testimony that began from what was hauled down our driveway on a tow truck.
I can't wait to see what You do, Lord...
I know almost nothing about football. I know there is a ball and pads on the players' shoulders, that there are goal posts and men in black and white stripes that throw yellow cloths down on the ground. At least that is all I knew until about a month ago, and then all of that changed. And it changed not because I really began to care about football, but because I already care about a 16 year old boy who decided that he wanted to become one of those padded up players on the field. We have never been a sports family, but this opportunity came up that fit our lives and my boy felt he was ready, so now I am learning how to wash extremely stinky uniforms that make me gag when I walk past the laundry room. (Vinegar...soak in vinegar first before washing... it is the only thing I have found that works!)
So as soon as I realized my child would be on the football field, playing one of these confusing positions, I downloaded Football for Dummies, and tried to figure it out. Who knew that the position of defensive end could be so complex?! To me it just looked like a bunch of men with big heads running around looking for someone to crush underneath them, but oh, no... there are all sorts of plays and assignments and plans, and there is, apparently, some kind of method to all that madness out there, and it is the topic of all kind of conversation in my house now. Plays with weird names, and numbers, and debate about how to tackle well without doing it against the rules- all of this was way out of my comfort zone. But now I am educating myself and I'm determined to be able to have at least a partially intelligent conversation about what is going on in my son's football world.
I also want the games I am watching him play to make sense to me. I don't want to be an ignorant loud voice on the sidelines just screaming for number 64 to "Get 'em". I want to be able to talk about the game when it is over, to hear his experience of playing and to be able to relate as much as a 41 year old mama who has never played sports possibly can. It's something he loves, he is trying to be good at, and I can see that it is teaching him about hard work and character. He is invested in it and therefore, I am going to be as well.
Things change when you have a kid on the team.
I have watched football before of course. I mean, I live in the South, for goodness sakes. I get that it is a big deal. Mostly I get that it is fabulous background noise on Sunday afternoons in the fall when I want to take a nap at my mom's house. But I have been to games, and the only way I could keep myself interested is to know something about the players on the field. It is the personal element that engages me. Not just in football, but in any sport. A few years ago, my husband took me to a NASCAR race. I didn't really care about going, until I found out that he had borrowed these fabulous head phone things that let you listen to the drivers talking with the people who were on the sidelines. It was fascinating! They went back and forth about who was doing what, how to best handle situations, when to come in for tires or gas...I actually never even opened the book that I brought! Getting a glimpse into the people who were out there in those cars screaming around the track made me care about the race itself.
Things change when you begin to understand who is out there running the race.
I have been a church goer all my life. Faith is a matter of great importance to me, and I love the people that God has put in my life to walk it out with me in a real life, practical way, beyond just some religious ideas and concepts. I care about them, and their lives, and I need them to help me stay on track and to encourage me, as well as tell me when they see me straying from living out the faith that I say I hold. At the same time, I am cheering for them. I have friends who have given up everything so their autistic son can have the kind of therapy he need, friends who have grown from complaining everytime someone asked them to help with children's ministry to now loving teaching a class, friends who have carried out their vows with alcoholic husbands during the worst of times, friends who have learned that God sets the solitary in families and have chosen to connect with others instead of living in regret about how they parented before they knew Jesus. They are in the game. They are padded up, running plays everyday, falling down, scoring sometimes, and sometimes committing fouls. There are times I look at what they are doing and I feel as ignorant about it as when I watch a football game... I can't figure out exactly where the ball is or who is supposed to be going after it. But because I love them, I am a loud voice on the sidelines...I am saying "Go, go, go!"
I had a lady tell me last night that I might want to consider getting some valium or possibly some essential oils for stress relief before the next game. She was kidding...I think... but what she was saying was that I was really affected by what was going on on the football field. And I can promise you it wasn't because I love football, it was because I absolutely adore my son, and he happened to be on the field. He told me last night, "Mama, I could hear you out there. Thank you." I can promise you, next week, I will be just as enthusiastic and just as loud, because it made a difference to him.
All of my friends out there, who are suiting up today, ready to go at it again, to face the things you need to face, to get done the things you have to get done, who are getting on the line and looking up to size up your opponent- hear me cheering for you. Hear my voice, right now, saying, you can win this. You can follow the play, or mess it all up, you can fall down, or make it to the goal line this time, but I am cheering you on. Yelling your name, yelling your number, letting you know I see you out there and you will win. If the score doen't reflect it yet, it's ok. What is going on in the game you are playing today matters to me, because you are on the field, and I care about you.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we are not out here alone. Most of us really are doing our best, most of us really are giving it our all, and every single one of us is fighting some kind of battle. I don't have to understand yours to give you some grace, and some kindness, and few really loud cheers to help you keep going. I have been given the same things from you, and I will most certainly need them again.
Things change, don't they, when we have friends in the fight...when we love someone on the field...when we start to see past the uniforms to the people who are wearing them. And I am so glad that they do.
Now I have to go soak a uniform in some vinegar. Let's get ready for some football!!!
I am a wife and homeschooling mom who absolutely loves her job! I love to read good books, enjoy art, and sit on my porch with family, friends and any passersby to talk about them and what a good, good Father we all have!