When I was writing my master’s thesis, I got into an explosive fight with my thesis chair.
If that seems weird it’s because it was. I burst into tears unexpectedly, then quickly tried to reel myself in. My tears laid my vulnerability bare, and my professor softened. When it was time to leave, she gave me a hug, and as I leaned in, the unspeakable happened. For reasons I’ll never understand, I whispered softly in her ear, “I love you.”
The very second it left my lips I knew I had no choice but to drop out of school, glue on a beard, and hide under an ambiguous name like Pat Stephens. I mean, was I nuts? I respected her, sure, but she could be a real piece of work. Brilliant and terrifying for no good reason. To say I loved her was a real stretch. The cringe ran so deep, it kinked my neck and my limbs froze to ice.
She said nothing in return, just patted my back politely, and then watched me leave her office. Rigid, like an ice sculpture.
To say I wasn’t ready to return to class the next day is an understatement. How could I look her in the eye again? But I somehow managed, detached and bubbly. It worked well enough, I guess. With her guidance, I eventually went on to write a thesis worthy of awards.
Now that I think of it, I’ve never been ready for anything. Adult decisions, marriage, conflict, parenting, crow’s-feet, large pores, skinny jeans, hosting a dinner party... you name it, I’m not ready for it.
I’ve never, not once, been ready to go sleeveless. Or for my monthly period to arrive, even though my iWatch gives me several warnings. And don’t even get me started on that one time I appeared on national TV in a blazer two sizes too small because I thought I’d lose 20 pounds before the shoot. Oh Lord, I ain’t never ready!
But somehow, miraculously, God finds a way to push me forward. And
- the more I’m pushed, the more I’ve had to rely on God for a miracle.
A reminder that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to while simultaneously recognizing I can’t accomplish anything at all.
In fact, I probably wouldn’t be alive today if I wasn’t, literally, violently pushed.
I don’t remember much, but I do recall the screaming and running, the confusion and fear. It was just one tiny second, and I thought maybe my mom was running to hug me. But she pushed me, hard, and I flew back several feet. Skidding across the gravel, my elbows skinned raw. I heard screams, saw people running. A woman scooped me into her arms and carried me away.
I was in the first grade and on a typical school day, I’d walk home with my friends. But on this day, Mom was struck with an immediate sense of urgency. It wasn’t a gentle, inner knowing. Not a little nudge, or whisper in her ear. It was an inner bullhorn: I was in danger, and she needed to run.
Mom says it felt robotic. As if something, or someone, had taken over her body, and she was left to observe, confused and concerned. As someone else started the car. As someone else pushed the accelerator to the tiny school where children trickled from its doors.
She spotted me immediately and felt pushed from her car. She ran toward me as a large dump truck gunned it in reverse.
That’s when I saw her. I lit up, until I saw fear in her eyes. Then she pushed me. A woman scooped me into her arms and ran toward the school so I wouldn’t witness the truck crash into my mom, knock her to the ground, and roll over her entire body.
Air left her lungs as she was pushed deep into gravel. Bruises immediately appeared, dark and blue, from her neck down to her ankles. Without a single broken bone.
When I hear this story I like to think of Acts 12:7, when Peter is asleep in a jail cell and an angel hits him on the side. Startled, Peter wakes up and sees his shackles are open. “Quick!” the angel says. “Get up!”
Last week, as we revisited the story, Mom said, “You know what the driver did after he realized he ran over me? Blamed me! Said I was stupid standing there.”
“Typical,” I said, rolling my eyes. The nerve. For a moment so extraordinary, a miracle beyond understanding, man somehow remains predictable. Distracted. So self-involved.
But mercifully, we’re still granted those rare magical moments when something, or someone, gives us a little push. Of course, we’re never ready. But maybe that’s the point.
Adapted with permission from I’m Not Ready for This by Anna Lind Thomas, copyright Anna Lind Thomas.
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Are we ever ready for what happens to us? If we were we'd never need our God of miracles! Most of the big pushes in my life have been as unwanted as they were unexpected but turned out to be just exactly what I needed! How have you felt the Lord or someone else (instigated by the Holy Spirit) push you in ways you needed to be pushed? Come share with us! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full