This past November, I was racing through my final preparations for a small dinner party with neighbors when I received that proverbial phone call that always comes when all seems most right with the world; the kind of call that crashes right into your perfect plans just when you're at peace with life, when you've dutifully given thanks to God for health and happiness and beautiful crisp autumn weather. As I vacuumed, I saw the face of my cell phone illuminate with my mom's number. Since my mom routinely calls just to chat, I decided let the call go to voice mail, knowing I would call her back as soon as our dinner guests were gone. But, for some reason that I'll never know, I grabbed the phone on the last ring. I didn't even give my mom a chance to talk, breathlessly explaining that I needed to complete my checklist of vacuuming and candle-lighting before our guests arrived.
Once I finally halted my pathetically mundane rant to draw a breath, my mom's broken and shaky voice began — my dad had been in a serious car accident, a head-on-collision, and there were no other details. She and my sister Amy were on their way to Alamance County Hospital about an hour away.
My husband and I instinctively jumped into action, canceling the dinner party, snuffing the candles, and shuffling our three girls to our amazingly accommodating neighbors. As Pete drove us down I-40, I silently pleaded with God, praying all those prayers we all tend to resort to in moments of desperation: "Please let him be O.K., and I will be a better daughter. I will start finding more time in my crazy hectic life to spend with him. If you'll bring him through this unscathed, I will put into words all of those silent thoughts that I've been saving for a later date to give breath and voice to... like how much of a difference he has made in my life; how he is my gold standard of kindness and goodness and godliness. Father in Heaven, if you'll just give me a little more time, I will not waste it, nor will I take it for granted. I will stop saying, "after soccer season, I will make the time..." or "as soon as we survive these crazy middle school years, I will make the time..."
As I urgently and frantically pleaded with God, I received a text from my friend Sherri that silenced my racing, desperate thoughts. She reminded me to simply trust, knowing that God was in complete and total control. And, in that moment, I finally began to accept that all my pleading and begging could not change the situation. I could not bargain with God for results that were not in His original plan. And, with that, I let go. I stopped my silent appeal for more time and, instead, gave thanks for the gift of hope.
Despite the devastation of the accident itself, my dad did make a nearly full recovery. There are, of course, things that aren't ever completely perfect again after such a serious accident, but, for all intents and purposes, he made a great recovery. And, so the time came to make good on my promises, my commitment to be there more for my parents, to say the things that filled my heart to overflowing but seemed too awkward to utter in actual spoken words.
But, it was Christmas time and the season was filled with work deadlines, kid activities, Christmas concerts, and parades, not to mention decorating, planning, and hostessing. There were meals to be made and delivered to sick families in our church. There were choir practices and bells practices and the transition from outdoor soccer season to indoor soccer season. I could barely keep my own head above water. And, so, the promises faded and I resumed my chaotic and crazy, yet relatively peaceful existence.