Theology

Of rosaries and car accidents

I got my Covid vaccine yesterday, and almost didn’t live to tell about it (or post the obligatory selfie).

I’d just gotten off the highway exit for the Walmart pharmacy. The traffic light was green, and I had my own lane to turn right. A semi truck was distantly behind me, and I sped up so I could merge in front of it. But the truck driver had other ideas – he suddenly sped up too, much faster than I anticipated, and narrowly missed taking out my tiny Kia by a few mere feet.

In a rare moment of control under duress (thank you, anxiety drugs!), I grabbed the wheel with both hands and pulled my car onto the sidewalk and into the grass to avoid getting hit (thank God there were no pedestrians).

Shaken, and minutes away from my vaccine appointment, I called my husband practically in tears: “I JUST ALMOST DIED.” He said soothingly, “But you didn’t, honey. You’re okay. Take a deep breath, you’re fine.”

I am fine, physically (my arm is a bit sore from the shot, though). In nearly two decades of driving, that is the closest I’ve ever come to getting in a massive wreck. I’ve been very lucky. Or is it something else?

I have a rosary hanging from my rearview mirror – a handmade gift from one of my college friends. I don’t believe it contains any magic powers, but I did look at it for comfort. And like many people in a literal life-or-death scenario, I thanked God.

I’m thankful to be alive – that’s what I was thanking God for. But did God save me? That’s where I hesitate. Not because I don’t believe he can, but because of what it implies for everyone in my situation who didn’t make it out okay.

I’ve walked out of church services that talk about divine healing of conditions like cancer (whether or not chemotherapy was also involved was curiously not mentioned). I distinctly remember crying in the bathroom of the last evangelical church I attended, because the pastor was interviewing a woman onstage who claimed God miraculously healed her of metastasized breast cancer. This was roughly a month before the one-year anniversary of my father’s death from Hodgkins Lymphoma. He had multiple churches praying for him, but the prayers didn’t work. Or so I thought.

I swore off all possibilities of an intervening God that day. Because there was just no rhyme or reason, from my hurt perspective, that God would play eenie-meenie-miny-mo with who gets healing and who doesn’t. I imagined that Dad just didn’t meet the right prayer quota in order to be healed.

Several years later, the hurt I felt then is less raw. I believe in an intervening God again; I just don’t know for sure how to tell if or when he does so. There’s a kind of arrogance in saying, “God saved me,” especially when other people in the same plane crash or F-5 tornado weren’t, that still grates me. At the heart of this proclamation is gratitude, I know. But understandably, the words still come out wrong.

Am I worth saving – more so than, say, author Rachel Held Evans, who recently died from a brief illness, leaving behind two young children who will now grow up without a mother? Do I still have more work to do – more so than, say, Ruth Bader Ginsburg did? How can I be so presumptuous?

I can’t answer those questions. But I can be grateful. And I thank God in gratitude to still be typing this today.

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

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