As I click the seatbelt and pull the slack, my three-year-old son asks me, “Dad, why do we have to wear seatbelts anyway?” Immediately replying without thought, “Because I don’t want to get a ticket!” I went about making sure his dog, Bullseye, was in the truck, and Eli had everything he needed. He was excited. Getting up early and being ready to leave with Dad at sunrise was not an issue, especially for a kid that loves trucks as much as he does. He’d been in this seat many times before, but his eyes were just as busy as the first time. You could see the cogs in his brain clicking away as he kept looking around at the dash full of gauges, lights, knobs, and toggle switches. I climbed down from the passenger side of our Peterbilt truck, slammed the door shut and went about checking the load. The engine was already running, tires looked good, the hay was good, no loose straps . . . “Ok, we’re ready to roll!”
Sometimes it is challenging to spend the time I want with my family and get everything done on the farm that I need to. For years, I worked alone on the farm, so that had made it even more difficult to find family time. So anytime my kids wanted to go hang out with me, I always welcomed it. Eli and I had a short haul that day. The day was beautiful. I think I was enjoying everything as much as he was. How could it get any better? God made a beautiful sunrise. Eli was just as content with his dog, his truck, and asking a million questions. The road was narrow, winding, up and down, and filled with early morning traffic. I remember seeing a pick-up truck traveling toward us on this narrow two-lane road. I downshifted as we approached a curve. Eli was still talking about something. Then, just nearly instantaneously, I said to myself, “I’m turning the truck over.” Immediately I looked at Eli. We were going over on his side. I tried reaching and grabbing him as if that was going to do any good. How long until we hit the ground? Everything was slow motion. Strapped in my seatbelt, I kept getting higher and higher in the air and feeling further and further away from him. He looked up at me, not realizing what was happening. Finally, the big thud I was waiting for. The glass immediately shattered, and a huge cloud of dust came rushing inside as we skidded along the grass. I remember yelling his name as he disappeared into the darkness. Instantly my mind was flooded with all kinds of voices, “Did I just kill my son! What am I going to see when the dust settles! Oh, God, please, please help me!”
Loss and the fear of loss are very powerful emotions. In fact, they are so powerful they can certainly alter the way we view life. I grew up with a fear of loss. Even as much as I wanted to love and be loved by people, in the back of my mind I believed something would come along, and I would lose it. In many cases, I would build up walls to protect myself from disappointment. I had convinced myself that I was going to lose someone I cared about, or even worse, that I, myself, would die and leave a huge burden for my wife. But in His wisdom, God brings circumstances in our lives to help us deal with our fears.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV
I can list several occasions in my life where God was showing me that I needed to deal with this fear. Ky and I suffered loss through a miscarriage of our first child. While she was expecting again with our third child, we went through a scary time when we thought it was going to be another miscarriage. Instead, we were blessed with a beautiful, healthy, baby girl. Eli was hospitalized with an infection where he literally shed every inch of his skin like a bad sunburn, and it took time for the doctors to figure out and work the problem. And in each and every situation, I may have looked strong on the outside, but inside those same, familiar thoughts kept flooding in. So, was this wreck finally it? And of all the people, my son?
It is not easy for me to admit that I deal with fear as often as I do. I mean, I’d like to think that I can handle myself in about any circumstance and come out on top. I don’t want my wife to think that she married a weak man! I don’t want my kids to have a weak dad! I don’t want to be weak, period. Even as I write this, I am struggling, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I like this?” Actually, the conclusion I am coming to is this: I have not fully trusted God to be who He says He is, to do what He says He will do, and to love the way He says He will love. My flesh and my experiences tell me that there is no such thing as unconditional love; everything has a catch, and nothing is as good as it seems. Wow, that’s a negative way at looking at life, you might say. Absolutely it is. But it doesn’t have to be this way! I can either sit back and complain how things aren’t fair, play a victim card that no one else understands, or even blame God for not caring, for not loving, or anything and everything else. OR, I can look for something else. Maybe, not everything in my life is about my own comfort, or what I want. Maybe, God puts things in my life so that I stop, look, pray, listen, and evaluate what road I am on: His or mine? What things are priorities: His or mine? In what purpose am I doing things: His or mine? Which kingdom do I live in: His or mine?
There is hope if you struggle with these things.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. – Jeremiah 29:11 KJV
And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. – Deuteronomy 31:8 KJV
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4 KJV
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. – John 14:27 KJV
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulations: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 KJV
Loss and grief are hard things to deal with. Personally, our miscarriage hit me harder than I expected. All along, I knew it was hard on Ky. How could it not be! We went from being told congratulations one minute, prepping her for surgery the next, questioning whether having kids in general was even going to be a possibility, to finally slowing things down and being sent home for bed rest. Lab results were showing improvements, but God ultimately had a different plan for us. The emotional rollercoaster took off again. It was hard. And, I did what I thought any good husband would do and did my best to help her bear as much of the burden as I possibly could, which felt like absolutely nothing. I never looked at it as this happened to her. It happened to us. We both grieved, each in our own ways. But, I thank God for it, because the joy we had later at the births of our son and daughter meant a little more. We knew how fragile life is, and we knew how blessed we were.
During these times, I noticed how simple life became. It didn’t magically or miraculously get easier, but it did get simpler. Maybe what changed was just my perception about life. The thousands of things per day that I felt I needed to control went away. The things that I thought were important to get done that day went away. My expectations of what the day would hold went away. The consequences that I perceived of my actions, like getting a ticket for no seatbelt, went away. All that remained at the end of these hard days was simply this: me crying to my Heavenly Father to love my family as much as I loved them, to give me the strength to be strong for them, for me to accept that He is in control, and help me trust He has a plan and a purpose for me and my family. EVERYTHING ELSE DISSAPPEARED! I wish I kept the faith enough to live life like that every day! I wish we could recognize the miracles that God puts in our lives each day. I know it was a miracle the day we had the wreck. When the dust settled, Eli was shook up a bit, but not crying, not massively bleeding, and was okay. He had nothing more than just a scratch on his face. If I recall correctly, I had just reached over and unbuckled his seatbelt and he stood up inside the truck. There was too much tension to release mine, and help started coming to the truck to get us out. Somewhere in the middle of all that he looked at me and said, “What did you do that for, Dad!” Of course, I replied with the typical dad response, “I don’t know buddy. I don’t know!”
What I do know is that God is good! God does love us and cares about the things that we care about. He wants to be a part of our everyday life. I don’t know if I will ever completely get over my fears, but at least I know I can recognize my behavior and know when I am living for me, and when I’m living for Him. Control is not the answer. It is merely a coping mechanism of a much larger issue. Faith is the answer. Faith is how we grow in that relationship with our Heavenly Father. I leave you with this last scripture to ponder:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my way, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV
— Written by Lee