“Where are you?” I asked my niece Shayna on the phone.
“You aren’t gonna believe this, I am sitting parked on the side of the highway, my mom’s behind me and a trooper is parked behind her,” she replied. “I can’t believe this, I just picked up my second ‘new’ used car in a week and we aren’t even 3 miles from the dealership and the car died on me.”
“Is the vein in your forehead pulsing?” I asked.
“You got that right!” she replied. “This is the second time that I’ve tried to get a car this week and everything has fallen apart again! First one lemon, now this one! I don’t know what I am gonna do!” her voice trailed off into tears of frustration.
“Shayna, take a deep breath. Be still. God is trying to tell you something.”
My niece Shayna is my spiritual daughter. I’ve known her since she was less than two. She’s now twenty. Along the way we lost touch for a bit in her teen years due to circumstances beyond our control. When Shayna resurfaced in my life she was a strong 17-year old with a plan for her education and future. And she had a son. She’s now a sophomore in college studying nursing, working full time as a certified nurse’s aide and is the head of household for herself and her 5-year old child. It’s a mighty tall order for someone who isn’t even 21.
Having a spiritual daughter is a lot like having a biological daughter except you don’t push the child out of your womb. You still get stretch marks but they are on the inside, not on the outside. You are still there emotionally, spiritually, maternally, and physically as situations arise.
A few weeks ago I got the phone call no one ever wants to get – “…there’s been a bad accident.” Shayna had fallen asleep at the wheel of her car and had a terrible car wreck. The car rolled several times and slid on its roof before hitting a utility pole. The force of the impact snapped the pole in half leaving live wires all around the scene. Shayna partially ejected through the windshield. She doesn’t know “who” or “what” helped her get out of the car as the live wires crackled and popped around her. She was found 10 feet from the crash, confused, bloody and semi-conscious. The miracle of her even being alive still makes me weep.
The list of miracles around her physical condition continued…no broken bones, no paralysis, no nerve damage, no internal bleeding. A big chunk of tissue missing from the top of her head, bruises, broken blood vessels in her eyes, she didn’t even resemble herself. But she was alive! Alive to face another day and live with the enormous blessing of surviving. Surviving an accident like this is a genuine miracle.
But Shayna didn’t see it that way. When the initial shock of the accident lessened she became frustrated with herself for falling asleep at the wheel, for messing up her plans and the rhythm of her life. She was angry for totaling her car, for being unable to work, for having to miss a semester of college…it was a lot for her to take in.
“But you are here!” I said.
“And my life is a mess now” she replied.
“But you are here! And the plans can be changed, the car replaced. YOU can not be replaced.”
“Big deal” she grunted.
In the days and weeks after the accident Shayna’s ‘healing’ began to take some interesting turns. For starters, she was forced to move back in with her mom, a relationship that’s been difficult and strained by the disease of addiction. For over 20 years her mother has struggled with being an addict and at the time of Shayna’s accident she was barely 30 days sober. Her history for staying clean was pretty much non-existent. Shayna moved back home with her 5-year old son feeling frustrated and like a failure.
She was angry that after all her hard work she had somehow arrived back right at square one: Living at home, dependent on her mom to drive her everywhere, no car, no insurance, out of work, and overwhelmed with bills and life. More than anything she wanted to get back on track. Yet try after try her efforts seemed thwarted. It was almost comical how God needed her to be still and listen yet over and over Shayna fought it.
“I just want to get back on track!” she cried.
“Maybe God is asking you to try another track honey. Maybe this is The Universe’s way of showing you there are other tracks. Maybe Shayna’s way isn’t the best way. Maybe God has another way.” I could hear her begin to soak that in. The lessons in this ‘accident’ have been nothing short of Divinely Orchestrated from where I was sitting. I prayed Shayna would be open to seeing that.
And slowly, bit by bit, the ‘healing’ of Shayna began to creep in. Miraculously, her physical wounds are healing. Her emotional pain is being replaced with patience, peace even. She is finding new ways. Her tenuous relationship with her mother has grown stronger through this. Her mother is now almost 60 days clean. There has been acceptance and healing between them one day at a time. Her new housing options are coming through. Her mechanic is looking out for her and working on finding her a reliable used car. Shayna is learning that more people care about her than she realized. I keep reminding her she is a miracle and to consciously look for and find the positive in this situation. To count the blessings. Savor the victories. She is starting to feel more comfortable with asking for help from life and we’ve been working on finding options for grants, scholarships, and loans that would lessen her burden.
“I never knew there was so much help out there” she said sounding amazed as we tackled the scholarship list I pulled off the Internet. “I always believed that if I wanted something I’d have to do it all by myself, so that’s just what I’ve done: I worked hard, so so hard and I counted only on me. You mean all this time there was other help out there for me?” she asked incredulously.
“Yes honey, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. There are other ways to do this.”
The solution to struggling isn’t to just keep working harder doing the same thing. Sometimes the solution to struggling is to be pulled out of the game for a while. Just like coaches do when their players seem to be faltering—forcing them to ride the bench and view the game from a different perspective. It’s a chance for the athlete to catch their breath and adjust their attitude if necessary. Human nature often has us struggling on the sidelines wanting to get back in the game before the coach feels we are ready.
So many times in life, God (our ultimate coach), tries to help redirect us and we miss it. First, God whispers… then God speaks… until ultimately God shouts to us, and if need be moves us out of the game completely – literally parking us on the sidelines like a Masterful Coach forcing us to regroup, reexamine and reassess.
When it happens to you, be still. Breathe. Be patient. Focus on the positive. God is trying to tell you something. Listen.