I am incredibly private person. One of my best friends called me an ‘enigma’ last week because there are many happenings that occur in my life that I just don’t speak about. It’s not so much that I don’t want to share the information; there are various factors have resulted in my silence about the things that matter, but perhaps they can be summarised into two words:
Have you ever wanted to say something, but just not felt able to? The words are on the verge of tumbling out of your mouth, but a barrier prevents them from doing so? That’s how I feel whenever I have something to share. Usually I buckle under the pressure of the occasion and promise myself that I’ll share another time. This time rarely ever comes around. Today is different. It is D-day. I am finally ‘sharing’ and true to form, I feel incredibly awkward and exposed.
Once I decided to write this post, I immediately wondered how much detail to divulge; was I to include the part where I crawled out of a car that was on the verge of flipping over? Would I describe, moment by moment, the time I was a victim of a ‘hit and run’ accident? Could I leave out the part where I emerged from a smashed vehicle, saw that my sister was bleeding, and began to scream at the sky, “WHY, GOD? WHY?”
The stories of my various car accidents are dramatic and painful. I rarely speak about them because of the emotion that rises within me when forced to retell the narrative. Also, the stories do not belong to be alone; others were there. For this reason, I must be careful how much I reveal.
There are no scars on my body that could indicate that I’ve been in multiple car accidents. I still have all my major faculties; I can see, feel, walk, run and think. I know that this, in itself, is a miracle. All things considered, I shouldn’t be alive right now. But, as with all traumatic events in one’s life, there are wounds that aren’t visible to the human eye that remain.
The most pervasive impact of my accidents was that I was deeply afraid of cars/crossing the road. Fast-moving objects, loud noises, enclosed spaces etc were all deeply frightening to me. I didn’t know it was strange to associate cars with death until I started driving. Alas, it was all I’d known. Most people think car accidents are some vague, impossible outcome of reckless drink driving, yet I was keenly aware, by the age of 13 (the age of my ‘hit and run’ accident) , that this was not the case: cars were dangerous, drivers generally couldn’t be trusted and I was always one car ride away from death or decapitation. As you can imagine, these thoughts made crossing roads quite the ordeal.
The decision to drive was not one I’ve taken lightly and even within my time learning, I was in a further two (minor) accidents (I must say, at this point, that I’ve never been the one driving when I’ve been in a car accident!) My life is such that I’m always on the go and being unable to drive had become frustrating. I had to decide whether to let me fear of the road hold me back, or allow it to push me forward. After months of thought (and procrastination), I booked my first lesson and got behind the wheel.
During this process, learnt a few lessons:
You can’t live in fear – you must conquer that which scares you. It won’t be easy but you’ll never know how strong you are and your capacity to overcome unless you put on your big girl pants and do it.
You must keep going
I knew that regardless of the outcome of my test, I was going to keep trying until I passed. Failure was not a set back – it would be a step forward. A failure could only take me closer to my success.
You don’t need an audience to set and achieve your goals
I told 3 people when I started driving – those who knew the depths of my fear, could appreciate the step I was taking and would only encourage me. I was weary of sharing my decision with anyone, just in case they derailed me or made me feel small. I protected my goal. Not everyone needs to know when you’re making a major life decision. It’s okay to execute personal goals without the watchful eye of social media.
People won’t always understand your method (and that’s okay)
I had been driving for just two months when I bought my car. I hadn’t even passed my theory at the time. I did things in a different order and members of my extended family laughed at me and thought I was insane. However, I knew that I needed to feel comfortable and confident on the roads and the only way to do that was to drive. I knew what I was on (apologies for the colloquialism), I knew I would achieve my goal and I didn’t let the disbelief/laughter deter me.
NB: I would encourage all learners, if it is possible, to buy a car and practise with your loved ones. It will save you money and increase the likelihood of passing!
I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
The above Psalm sums up my experience. Every single time I took a step, I sought God. I depended on God, exclusively, fully, trusting that I would be whole – that what I had been through would no longer hold me back.
Despite being a private person, I really wanted to share this part of my story with you, just so you could know where God has taken me from. I’ve gone from having panic attacks while crossing the road, to passing my test (first time!) It is a miracle that I am alive.
I have survived car accidents – the same car accidents that kill hundreds of people each day. I often wonder why I’ve gone through what I have, and I’m sure if you’ve lived through any traumatic event, there are times where you question a God that could allow for such. I don’t know the answer, but I do know there is someone reading this that needs to know that they can overcome their fears. That what has gone before does not predict where you will end up. That God can take away your fear. That you will be okay.
And to those who have stories of pain and triumph that are afraid to share (it’s taken 3 weeks to find the courage to post this) remember that your story matters – your story may be the difference and there is someone, somewhere, that needs to hear it.
All my love,