Today was a crash not a spill. Nobody was hurt. The damage can be fixed and something very important was exposed. It all started with my winter storm car crash.

It was supposed to be a sharp right turn but my steering wheel couldn't navigate the slide. My car careened across the ice. I took my foot off the brake and tried to steer with the slide. No results. I resigned to the crash and sat between moments; sandwiched between choice and outcome. I felt more like an observer than a participant. Time matrixed into a slow frame by frame. The car slid across the road, off the edge and headed for a barbed wire fence post. Outside my window, fence post and car seemed to be skating at each other too fast, like bad ice dancers. I watched them both collide with a hard metalic crunch. The post crashed into the fender between my front tire and driver’s door. The barbed wire scraped my red paint grey where steel met steel. The airbags did not go off.

Nobody was around. I got out to survey the damage and calculate how to dislodge fence post from car body. After a successful battle against my impulse to cry, I manuvered my injured 'Vibe' back on to the road and headed into the consequences.

There’s a lot of good news in the story. Nobody was hurt. No other cars were involved. My car is running. I was able to get where I was going without much interruption. My husband is on his way home from Boston right now. When he’s settled back in, I’ll say, “Um ... I wrecked the car today.” And I know he’ll tell me it’s not a big deal, and that it could have been much worse. Even so, if given the option, I’d definitely take a do-over.

The thing that lingers with me about the crash isn’t so much the insurance hassle and the rattle in the car door. It’s about that floating moment before the outcome. It’s about the slide. Because that slide is a reminder of larger life-events that happen. I'm talking about the times when all our regular means for steering in a determined direction are rendered powerless. When there are no brakes to stop the trajectory, and we're unable to drive. In that stretch of space, time seems to freeze and the only moving pieces are the things we can’t control. It’s right about then, that an ice cold sliver of reality lodges in the most tender place of a soul and speaks, “You are not in control.” That’s the floating moment. There are no choices to be made. The only option is to ride with the long slide and wait for the outcome.

Sometimes, that slow slide is 1.6 seconds until the steel crunches.

Other times, it is 2 days until the biopsy comes back,

or 5 sessions until the chemo is done,

or 12.5 weeks until a job is found,

or 30 days until the adoption is final,

or 17 years until the prodigal child returns.

Life is full of those times when it’s clear we are no longer really the one who is driving. It's eye-opening, awakening. There is something healthy in the abrasive truth that we are fragile beings in a crashing world.

In that place, something core gets exposed. It's like the barbed-wire-paint-scrape revealing my car's underlying steel. Crashes expose what's underneath -- where I place my trust. So, let's say, to “trust” is to put our full weight down on something and expect it to hold you up or get you through ... like sitting down in a chair and expecting it to carry your weight. We all trust something. We do. If it’s not ourselves, we put the weight of our trust in someone else, something else, or God.

I know where my full weight goes. Today’s icey road reminded me about what I ultimately trust in long sliding moments. For me, that's about my Jesus belief. That's the substance of my trust -- the heavy steel underneath my scraped surface paint. It's what I hope gets exposed when my life crashes.

And I won’t be preachy about it. I'm just saying it because it matters, and the crash brought it on. So, now I'll turn it around and let you reflect on what's under your own paint.

Crash Questions

Food for Thought

When I am involved in a crash in life, what is revealed as the substance of my trust?

What do I trust when life goes into a free slide?

Am I good with that?


KELLY said...

Trusting Him, yes. Glad you are okay. What a great metaphor and reminder!!

Julie said...

Beautiful, redemptive, and so true! I have often been shocked to find what is under my paint...
Really loved this. And as always, love you!

Laura said...

great post and great writeup. love how you are able to see the God in the ordinary. fantastic picture of truth. thanks for writing it for us to read . . .

Dinah said...

So, was this written in your head as you were approaching the fence post? Thanks so much for the reminder! I sometimes forget how difficult life would be without a strong coat of primer!

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

Awesome, Kelly. Thank you.

Sandra Heska King said...

I just stumbled over here. Wow! I've been in both kinds of slides and know exactly what you are talking about. I felt your feelings. Great post.

Kleigh said...

Great crash responses, everybody. It's good to share the sliding life moments, and remind each other what we truly trust.

Welcome, Sandra!! So glad you decided to stop by.
I hope you choose to come back. You'll be in good company.

: )


Mary DeMuth said...

Great post, great writing. I'm thankful you and your family are fine.

Kleigh said...

I'm so glad you took a minute to be in The Spill.
Really. It'd be an honor to have you check in again.

Thanks for the encouragement!

Kelly said...

Kelley, Somehow even your posts about a traumatic even are beautiful -- in message and in verbiage. Thank you for sharing it with me.

Ann in IL said...

Great post. I could so relate. Late last December on a cold, icy, dark wisconsin road I hit black ice, lost total control of our conversion van - with 4 of the kids in it. As the van just spun through air, we were headed directly for a huge wooden pole at a pretty good speed. At the last second, hit the snow bank and the car turned completely 180 and we never even made contact with the big pole. Will and Matt even managed to help me rock the vehicle out of the snowbank. The only damage was the lost of some plastic bumper parts! Those surreal moments which begin with terror and sometimes end in great relief push one to think very seriously about what we're really trusting in!

Kleigh said...

Thanks, Kelly!

Ann, wow. What a wild experience, and well-described. I can't imagine shoving a car back on to the road like that ... 'so glad it's a story about a miracle not a tragedy.

Dinah ... no. I didn't write this while sliding. : ) Although, I guess if everyday life counts as sliding, then, yes.