Lessons I Learned Upside Down

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This past summer, I was told that your seventeenth year is usually your best year.

This past summer, I turned seventeen.

I was determined to make my seventeenth year the best one yet.

But guess what happened only several days after my seventeenth birthday?

Someone stuck their finger in the waters of my high ideals and sent them swirling, and I was left staring death in the face. What a great start. Let me explain myself.

I was on my way home from a church function, and my brain was on high speed. I was thinking back over the day and the past week, and mentally organizing what all had to happen in the week ahead of me. Things would have to work out just so, and there wasn’t much time for glitches in the system. I was exceptionally busy during that time, and, I’ll have to admit, I was being a bit of a control freak.

The picture somewhat disturbs me. Imagine a child, clenching something tightly inside his fist. You know it’s unsafe for him to have it, so you attempt to retrieve it for the sake of his safety. Instead of willingly handing it over to you, he stubbornly curls his fingers even tighter around the object and holds it close to him in refusal. Probably even says, “Mine!”

I was kinda like that child. I was holding things too tightly, for fear of things swirling into chaos. Did it work? Obviously not. Not at all.

Because not much later, I lost control on the loose gravel of the back road I was driving and was sent sailing over the edge.

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One of the first things that went through my head as I saw the control slipping out of my hands was,”No, this can’t be happening to me. ”

It sounds foolish, I know. I was pretty much telling God, “Hey, this wasn’t on the agenda. I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time to die. What’s going on?”

Like that mattered right then.

You can’t fully understand the feeling of being weighed in the balance between death and life until you’ve experienced it yourself. I was told later by the police who responded and investigated that I had rolled end over end and side over side, and part of me wasn’t entirely surprised, based on how the scenery had been in those few seconds of action. I was surprised, however, by the fact that I could remember a lot of the details very vividly.

The kind officer came up to where I was sitting and asked me again, “You’re still feeling okay?”

“Yes,” I replied with confidence, “I am.”

“You’re lucky to be alive, you realize that?” he stated gravely.

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It wasn’t luck, but I knew what he meant. And yes, I realized it, even though I didn’t understand it. In fact, no one seemed to.

The paramedics came, asked me questions and checked me over. Their responses and facial expressions seemed to say, “How can you just be totally okay? There’s gotta be something wrong somewhere.”

At the end of the examination, the paramedic graciously stated, “Well, everything seems to be fine except your heart rate is a little high…”

I almost burst out laughing. In the ambulance. With a bunch of confused paramedics. Not recommended. Unless you’re in the mood to get airlifted.

So my heart rate was a little high? What a surprise. And a relief.

That night, God seemed to say, “You want a good year? First things first, you must be reminded who’s in control.” And was I ever reminded. The hard way, of course.

The next thing on God’s agenda with me that night was to show me what I really needed. The things that would really stand the test of time. The things that were really of most importance. And it turns out, those “things” weren’t actually things at all.

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He left my Bible and the above birthday card right on the passenger seat while everything else was thrown out the windows, back up on the middle of the road, down the ditch, across the field, everywhere. Even my glasses had flown off my head and into the backseat. But God’s divine Word stayed glued to the seat. Is that a miracle, or is that a miracle?

When the action stopped and I realized I was still alive and moving and able to get out, I jumped out and immediately began searching for my phone, gathering CD cases, birthday gifts, glasses, and a shoe along the way. I couldn’t find it anywhere. If you had been witnessing the scene that night, you would have heard the desperate prayers of, “Lord, help me find my phone! I need my phone!”

“Do you?” He seemed to be saying, ” Or do you need me?”

Come on. We might as well have said I was in the desert. How else would I get help?

Just like that, an old pickup came cruising down the quiet, abandoned dirt road. There was nothing to do but stand by my wreck of a car and hope for the best. Would their intentions be good or bad? I was about to find out.

You people, they were angels. Silver-haired ones. Take it as you wish, but either way, their intentions were good. Very, very good. Bless their dear hearts.

So what was I left with that night?

Ever-faithful God, His ever-faithful Word, people, a life that I was fortunate yet to live, and the song that still played strong through my stereo as I searched frantically for what I was desperately “needing”:a choir singing, “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy”.

Please listen up for one more thing before I go. I’m still learning these lessons. I’m still processing things from way back then. I’m still just as human as anyone. And as gracious as so many of you were to say, “I’m so glad you’re still alive!” and “God must have a plan for you!” , please take this with you when you go: I’m so glad you’re still alive too, and because you’re still blessing this earth with your presence, that must mean God has a plan for you too.

There’s always a reason you’re alive. Let’s pursue the reason and the One behind it together.

5 thoughts on “Lessons I Learned Upside Down

  1. Wow Tara!! I remember you telling me this story at MBS but I’m still astounded and awestruck at the way God showed Himself in such a REAL way!! I’m very very glad He chose to save you!! Love you!!❤️

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