Have you ever been driving merrily along when out of nowhere, a car smashes right into you? I have. I was the front-seat passenger in a car that was hit on my side—in fact, for a split second, I saw what was coming and yelled, “We’re going to get hi…!”
Thankfully the impact was just behind my door, but we were propelled through the intersection—doing a huge donut and landing yards away. My head slammed into the window, but mercifully the glass didn’t shatter.
The whole experience left me shaken and in a daze.
That’s what getting blindsided can do to you.
It’s like when an anvil falls on Wile E. Coyote’s head and the little birdies tweet around him while he tries to re-inflate and shake off his stupor.
Rarely do you get a glimpse of it heading toward you (as I did with the car crash), but even if you do, it’s not enough to prepare you for the impact. For the shock. For the damage. For the hurt.
Whether it’s an accident, a devastating diagnosis, a breakup, or a job loss, getting blindsided hurts in more ways than the obvious. Not only do you have to deal with the initial trauma of the incident, but there is the ripple effect of life being different from that point on.
Even when the blindsiding has less of an overall impact, it still leaves its mark. Thankfully there were no significant injuries in the car crash I was in, and the damage was mostly financial. But the way that I flinch whenever a car comes too close has never left me. The insurance may have helped rebuild the car—but my mind still has residual damage.
Major blindsidings ripple even more. Things that you believed to be one way are now another. And because the blow comes out of nowhere, there is no chance for goodbyes to what once was. It just is. In a split second, the world as you know it is very different. One way Monday, and then heartbreakingly different on Tuesday.
And there’s no going back. No reclaiming of the pre-impact reality. You just have to find a new way to navigate. To get back up. To heal. To let the little birdies swirling about your head fly away and hope for some clarity to settle in.
At the start of summer last year, my husband came home from work in the middle of the day, and after saying a quick hello to our son, he gestured for to me to follow him into the bedroom. I laugh now to think that the thing that crossed my mind then was that he was excited to share good news with me…a bonus? Vacation? After all, we really needed some good news. My mom had just come back home to live with us after a debilitating illness, and we were now grappling with how to care for her. The anticipation built within seconds, and then he said…“I just lost my job.” I thought he was kidding. As far as we knew, everything was going well in that realm—there was nothing that even intimated that his job was less than secure. But no…it was real.
Seriously, God? Hadn’t I just prayed to you a night or two ago that I didn’t know how much more I could handle? Is this your answer?
None of it made sense, and it hurt like hell. The sense of betrayal was strong, as someone he considered a friend had given him no warning before he turned our lives upside down. It wasn’t just the loss of income that hurt, but the loss of faith…the trust of believing that if you were loyal and worked hard, you would be treated fairly. Gone in an instant.
Time passed, we caught our breath, and the little birdies eventually flew away. And after much thought and prayer, we believed God was pointing us toward my husband opening his own architectural firm. And that’s how this particular Phoenix rose from those specific ashes. Though the business is still gaining traction, we feel it was indeed our next right step to take. (And if anyone needs a wonderful architect…I have one for you!)
And as you may have guessed from the timing of this post, the little birdies are swirling about us once more.
Another experience extremely similar to my husband’s work situation…but this time for me.
Life has taught me that we will eventually catch our breath and figure out our next right step. But for now, I am in the midst of trying to shake off my own daze from the blow and wondering how it could happen to us again. How what I thought I could have faith in, I no longer can.
I’ve never been one to think I have life figured out, and time and again I get reminders of that very truth. All I can do is have faith that God has something better in store for me, and then look to find it.
For a while, though, I may have to put some sunflower seeds out for those little birdies swirling about me, as they don’t seem to be leaving anytime soon.