It has now been 14 months since I was hit in a motor vehicle accident, and I am still in pain every day. Although the pain is not as excruciating as it was at the beginning, I no longer have the strength or endurance to do the things that I used to do. I often find myself thinking that I just want to get better so that I can get my life back. But I also believe that God is trying to teach me something through this experience. I ask Him in my prayers, “What do you want me to learn from this?”, but in my heart that usually ends with “so I can get back to my life”.
My first thought about what God’s lesson for me might be was rest. It seemed to be a common theme in sermons I heard a few months after the accident and now in a book I am reading for my Bible study group. It is the answer that is most often suggested by my friends, and it is certainly something that God advocates. (Exodus 16:27-30, Exodus 34:21, Matthew 11:28) But God also advocates working, (John 5:17, John 9:4, James 2:22, Ephesians 4:11-12, Acts 18:3) and I had already started prioritizing where I put my energy, so I’m not convinced that rest is the answer. The second reason most people suggest is this blog. Perhaps God wanted me to write this blog, so He took away everything else I could do so that I would write it. That might sound good in theory, but the truth is that I had intended to start writing this blog on January 1, 2011 before the accident happened. I do believe God called me to do it, and I do hope that some day I will see that it has been of value to people, but God didn’t force me into it. I do it willingly, and I’ll leave the results up to Him. So what is the answer? I think I’ve finally figured out that my problem is pride.
Different people probably have different ideas of what pride looks like. Some may imagine someone who is arrogant and conceited and thinks he is better than anyone else around him. Others may imagine someone with great self-confidence, a person who knows that she can do what she needs to do. The second version doesn’t really sound that bad, does it? But as the popular, abbreviated version of Proverbs 16:18 tells us, pride goes before a fall. Pride is trusting in yourself alone. For me, it boils down to this—wanting to be self-sufficient. I don’t want to be dependent on anyone, and I certainly don’t want to be a burden to anyone. Currently I am both, and I really don’t like it! In the book, The Sacred Romance, Brent Curtis says, “Part of my smaller story has been to use my gifts as a teacher and thinker to win people’s admiration—to be someone’s hero.” I have a similar desire. I like to be appreciated. I like to hear people say Thank You. I find myself doing what I can for others, so that they will think that I have some value.
The truth is, that without the grace of God, I am nothing. All good gifts in this world come from Him, (James 1:16-17) including our abilities and good health. How much He chooses to give us is up to Him. We can work and strive and plan and pray, but unless He is willing to allow it, it will not happen. That is not to say that He does not allow us to go our own way, because He has given us free will, but I had been praying for months before the accident that I wanted to do whatever was His will for my life. That’s truly what I want, but the pride of being self-sufficient is obviously deeply ingrained, and needs to be eliminated first.