Monday, February 6, 2012

Accidentally Finding God's Plan

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

In May of 2001, I graduated high school.  In August of that same year, I left the great metropolis of Pahokee and moved an hour east to Palm Beach, attending Palm Beach Atlantic University, majoring in Pre-Law.  It was an exciting and liberating time for a seventeen year old from a very small town.  Six weeks later, my entire life (or what I knew as life at that young age) was turned completely upside down. 

Social life in college is really a funny thing, when you put it on paper.  Here we were: 2,000 strangers thrown together to live, learn, and grow.  You were instant besties with your roomie or suitemate; you were fast friends with your classmates, and close enough with your acquaintances to hop in a car, completely trusting you would arrive to your destination in one piece.  We were young, naïve, and invincible.

In the short span of 15 minutes on the evening of September 12, 2001, we found out we didn’t really know each other, certainly weren’t invincible, and life was incredibly fragile.

That evening, I was involved in what was, to me, a traumatic car accident.  Thankfully no one lost their life, but five lives were changed forever.  Four of us traveled to dinner on a humid night, following a day of brutal September rain – my suitemate and two male friends, the eldest of them driving.  For brevity, I’ll save the details of the accident for another day.  I will say that Fire Rescue did use the Jaws of Life to open Brian’s car, just like opening a tin can with a can opener.  Two of the injured parties, including my suitemate and closest friend at the time, were flown by traumahawk to local hospitals with life threatening injuries.

I suffered a broken pelvis, which would leave me bedridden for a few months, until I was healed enough to begin walking.  Unable to attend school, I was forced to withdraw and move back home.  After healing, I began attending community college, and working at a local insurance agency.  This was definitely not the exciting time I had been planning for months and months during my senior year of high school.

Because I was a semester behind when I finally started school, I was challenged to complete my Associate’s Degree in 18 months.  Meeting this goal allowed me to graduate on time, and move to Fort Myers.

In May of 2003, I moved to Fort Myers.  Six weeks later, my life was again changed forever, but this time, no broken bones were involved – I met the man who would later become my husband.

Looking back, those months after the accident were painful, both physically and emotionally.  I was incredibly angry at God for uprooting me from what I thought was my path in life.  I felt as if one of those all-important life experiences had been stolen from me.  I would never join a sorority, attend college ball games at my own school, or experience dorm life.  I had lost a group of friends, people I would periodically touch base with for a few months after, but eventually lose contact with completely.  No reunions, no “old college buddies” to reminisce with or vacation with, no stories to share with my children or grandchildren when they became college freshmen some day.

By now, you’re probably wondering when the “God’s Plan” stuff is going to kick in…well, here it is.  I can say now, over ten years later, that being involved in that accident put me on a course in life that I never would have otherwise attained.  To me, as traumatic as the event was, the accident brought me to the greatest blessings in my life.

If it weren’t for the accident, I wouldn’t have moved.  I never would have met Evan, and I cannot fathom life without him.  He is truly my heart and soul, the love of my life, and the most incredible, amazing, funny, clever and handsome man I know (can you see me blushing?)  Without Evan, I never would have moved to Cape Coral, and had we never moved to Cape Coral, we never would have began attending Cape Coral First United Methodist.

When Evan and I began attending CCFUMC, our lives were again changed forever.  There aren’t enough words (actually, there would be too many…) to fill this post with the wonderful, wonderful blessings we have received since attending.  The friends and family we’ve made; the ministries we’ve joined and the small groups and Bible studies we’ve learned so much from.  Our faith has grown tremendously.  Our bond has strengthened a thousand times over.  Our church is the most amazing place on earth – yes, even better than Disney Land!

This is how I know God has a plan.  After the accident, I was lost and confused, hurt and angry, scared and unsure of what the future held.  But, God knew.  He knew exactly where I needed to be, and what I needed to do.  He laid the stepping stones for my next journey in life, and brought me to where I am today.  And while I may have given up my dream of becoming an attorney, I have found myself in a career I love (and I wholeheartedly believe the accident, and learning the value of uninsured motorist coverage, brought me here).  I may never have experienced dorm life or college buddies, but I’ve made friendships here that far exceed what I may have found in those four or six years.  I was blessed enough to meet my soul mate, and our faith was changed in a way that only God can do.

I can honestly tell you that I cannot imagine my life being anymore perfect, happy, full of love and laughter, or joyful than it is right now.  God knew exactly what He was doing.

Life isn’t always easy.  You’ll have some incredible highs, and some tumultuous lows.  But it’s true, God never gives you more than you can handle.  God gives us mountains to climb, but he also gives us the strength to climb them…and you can’t dance on the mountaintop without first walking through the valley below.  When you’re faced with challenges, adversity, fear, trauma or tragedy…just hang on, and know that God is taking care of you, guiding you, comforting you, and giving you peace. 

The Big Guy always has your back, and knows exactly where you're going.

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