In February, I had two adjoining weeks of euphoric joy. For 14 days straight, I woke up glowing with jubilance. It didn’t matter what I had going on that day. Whether it was work or school or I had no commitments at all, I was joyful.
I truly feel like God has enlightened my soul and shown me the distinction between joy and happiness. Joy is this continuous, positive mindset, while happiness can be a positive yet fleeting emotion. Joy comes from the Lord, and He helped me maintain the momentum of joy for two weeks straight.
On the evening of February 18 (the 13th day of my continuous joy), I was driving on the country back roads of Crowders Mountain when a doe lunged out at me and collided with my car, who I affectionally call “Rodger”. I can still remember the sound of the creature smashing into me: a loud, solid bang!–as if a cannon ball had struck my driver’s side fender.
Those several seconds felt like an eternity, from the instant the doe appeared in my peripheral vision and jumped into me within half a second to the moments after when I shifted into neutral, slammed on brakes, and sat with my hands on the wheel, shaking and screaming in these staccato bursts until my throat was dry and scratchy.
I emerged from my car, trembling and crying from hysteria. Even though I was two miles from where my mother and grandparents were, their cell service was nonexistent, and my mom wasn’t answering her phone. Over and over again, I screamed her name:
“Mom! Mom? Mom! Mom?!”
Even when I stopped trying to contact her, I kept shrieking her name. Maybe I was hoping that someone would hear my cries, but I was in the middle of nowhere, and the only source of light apart from my working headlights came from the stars, and the only ears to hear me were the animals in the surrounding woods. The only sounds I heard were the trees blowing in the wind and my own voice echoing back at me from all directions. I sounded delusional.
For five minutes, I felt completely alone.
But I wasn’t alone. God was up there with His hand over me, protecting me and keeping me safe.
After trying to contact my mom failed, I decided to call my uncle who lived nearby. Just like a superhero, he jumped in his car and came to my aid.
In the minutes before he arrived, seven cars drove by me, and not even one stopped to see if I was okay as I stood outside my vehicle in the grass with the flashing yellow hazard lights illuminating my presence.When an eighth car appeared, the woman in the passenger seat rolled down her window and said, “Honey, are you okay? Would you like some help?”
I felt an ease wash over me as I decided to trust that family. They pulled over and helped me move my car and even opened up my hood to help assess whether the engine was damaged. These good samaritans stayed with me until my uncle arrived, just to make sure I wasn’t alone again, and then they went on their way.
Once my uncle was there, we had to contact a tow service and work out the insurance details, which was all too monotonous to really describe in-depth.
During this whole ordeal, I found myself making a mental list of all the blessings I had in order to combat the negative feelings trying to flood my mindset.
- Thank God I am alive and unscathed
- Thank God my car isn’t as damaged as it could have been
- Thank God I have insurance through my parents as a college student
- Thank God we have the means to pay for damages if they’re not entirely covered
- Thank God I started working at an automotive restoration shop this week (my first day was February 13) because they can do the repairs
- Thank God I have family nearby. This could have happened anywhere, but it happened where I was within five miles of two sets of family members
As I stood there shivering in the cold night, I kept going down this list of gratitudes in my head. I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t angry, I didn’t curse God.
But I will say, if this had happened to me in January, my discourse would have sounded like this:
Why me, God? Why me? You know how much I love my car, I love it like it’s my family! Why would you do this to me?
Because God is the omnipotent creator of my life, He has every intricate detail worked out in a systematic fashion. In an engine, every single spark plug and screw and all the cylinders and pumps serve their own individual purposes just as a team does, striving for one goal. As with His plans for our lives, every minute of every day, every trial, and every blessing is intentional. Each one goes hand-in-hand with the other to serve a greater purpose.
To refer you back to the beginning of this story, God gave me two weeks of absolute euphoria leading up to this collision. He used that time strengthen me for the impending trial I had down the road (literally). The valleys in our lives are meant to prepare us for the mountains.
This tribulation was meant to test the mettle of my faith, and my ability to trust in God right off the bat. And even though I experienced terror like nothing else in my life during the first five minutes after the collision, I didn’t feel like God had abandoned me.
Anyone who knows me–even a little–is completely aware of how much I love cars in general, and those who know me well were heartbroken for me when they heard that my car would be out of commission for repairs. This was completely understandable because the Olivia of the past would have been frustrated and angry.
But as much as I love my car, I understand that it is a material possession. In the days following the collision, I was preparing my heart for the potential of losing my car, and the night before the appraiser was coming to the shop to assess the damage, I felt myself erring away from my trust in God. I was worried. I got down on my knees and prayed to Him, and He picked me right back up and held my hand again.
Now let me make this clear: God is always good. There is no exception to that.
The story of my car’s condition started to unfurl, and it appeared that I would never drive my beloved Rodger again, but God (my two favorite words to use together) helped me hold tight to my faith. The entire situation turned around when the shop I work for took me in and fought for me and my car, and everything has been settled.
In a matter of weeks, I’ll be grabbing gears in my four-wheeled friend once again. And I have God and the people he placed in my life to thank for that. Each person in this situation has played an integral role.
This collision was more than just a doe running into my car while it was in motion, it was a collision between my divine joy and the possibility of losing my faith. During those two euphoric weeks, God had equipped me with the armor to defeat negative feelings, and through His strength alone, I was invincible.
And believe me, I am still as joyful I was then, but I wanted to emphasize those two weeks because so many happenings during that time played into how I eventually managed this collision.
In the hindsight of each tribulation that I experience, I find myself feeling thankful for the training He puts me through.
It’s easy to love and trust God when we’re venturing through life with clear skies. But when the fog descends and we’re walking through the unknown, that’s when our faith is truly tested.
But as I’ve found, the foggy times are often the most translucent. Nothing makes you see quite so vividly when you truly submit to God and His plan.
Close your eyes, grab His hand, and let Him lead you. He’ll take you places you could have never found on your own.