It’s been almost 6 months since my car accident (Holy cow. In some ways it feels like it was yesterday; in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago) and I realized I had written quite a lot about the accident on my personal Facebook page but not much here. I wanted to share some of the extraordinary stories from that day. In the midst of chaos and trauma, there was a profound intervention from God.
Clouds pass in my notorious eye but You, through all, I see. – Frank O’Hara
Here are some of the stories that have emerged from that day.
On the way to my beloved Little People of Ambato, I and 3 others were in a horrible car accident. In a compact car we hit a semi. No airbags. Going extremely fast. The fireman said this was an utter miracle - they said we shouldn't be alive - that they have never seen something so bad and the two in the front survive. I walked out with a very broken collarbone and very bruised ribs. One friend shattered his nose, another broke her thumb and others got bruises, but nothing else. I literally don't have a scratch except from the seatbelt and my broken collarbone. Even as I lay in the car while they were trying to saw the doors off, covered head to toe in glass, I knew we should be dead and Jesus completely saved our lives. As the car hit, all I could cry out over and over was, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” And He was there. Everyone witnessed an utter miracle that day and, as much pain and frustration as I was in, I think I'm more in love with Jesus than ever before. I was broken open by the love of everyone around me, from jumping in their cars to get to the hospital I was in 3 hours away, to sleeping next to me waking up every 4 hours to give me pills, to bringing food and medicine at all hours.
Still lying inside the shattered, smashed car, unable to move, tears streaming down my face, people all around yelling in panic, I said, "Jesus. Are you mad at me? Did I mess up? Did you leave? Did you remove your covering or protection from me? Jesus. Where were you? Where were you?" Even as those questions arose, my heart hurt. That’s not the God I believe in at all. Yet the questions came. In a split second I went into a picture of the accident all over again, still strapped inside the car; as our tiny compact car hit the huge semi, I saw the body of Jesus jump in-between the cars like Superman. He put his hand against my chest bone to stop the full blow while his other hand was against the semi. The cars wrapped around him instead of wrapping around me, and he said so clearly, "Carly Esther, I will never leave you. Ever. You are enough. I will always come for you. I will always come save you. Over and over and over." And I wept.
That night, finally undressing in front of the mirror at my house, looking at my untouched, un-bruised body in utter amazement; the only bruise I had was right over my chest bone – the exact spot I had seen Him put His hand in the image. Again, I wept.
After the car accident the paramedics had to cut every single piece of my clothing off me in the emergency room because I was so covered in glass; it was the only way they could get it away from me. Even as I lay there crying, I realized the not-so-subtle coincidence. They were cutting off the sweatshirt I love so much that just says, across the whole back, “FEAR IS A LIAR.”
Fear is a liar being cut off my body after a car accident I should have died in.
Fear is a liar. Miracles are real. There's no reason to fear when Jesus is present.
I have a tattoo on my hip that says, “Deep Abiding Love.” There’s a whole story behind it from working with Black Lives Matter and choosing to tattoo it as a constant reminder to live out of deep abiding love (scroll back a bit in my blog and you’ll find the whole story). Every time I'm tired of humanity and burned out and scared, I try to go back to the realization that all I am and all I do comes out of deep abiding love.
The doctors had to take bone tissue from my hip for my collarbone and said they wanted to cut right where the tattoo is, but chose to save it for me. So my 1-2 inch scar is DIRECTLY above it. I cry as I think how I got the tattoo about living from my OWN deep abiding love. And now there's a scar, constantly reminding me of God’s Deep Abiding Love, saving my life, intervening in a car accident that should have killed me, forever next to my permanent tattoo of Deep Abiding Love.
“Some people see scars, and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact that there is healing.” - Linda Hogan
My dear friend Benji was in a separate ambulance than me. He was with our friend and the driver. She was under oxygen after the accident and Benji heard the paramedics saying it was bad and her heart rate was dropping very quickly. Her heart dropped to 40 beats a minute. He didn’t know what to do so he started playing the song, “Good, Good Father” in Spanish on his phone. The song is a worship song that says, “You’re a good, good father. It’s who you are, and I’m loved by you. It’s who I am.” By the end of the song her heartbeat had risen back up to the correct number and she was completely stabilized.
The inspectors of the vehicle, weeks after the accident, assessed it. They said they had never seen anything like it before. They said the way the car hit it looks like there was a bubble around the driver and a bubble around the passenger (me), and the car hit and wrapped itself in the crushing motion around those two bubbles, not hitting the people in those bubbles at all. They couldn’t find a logical explanation. Miracles tend to leave people at a loss for explanations.
There was a doctor at the first (HORRIBLE) hospital we were immediately taken to. It was hell and more traumatizing than the actual car accident. But there was one doctor there whom we all met and who was the most tender with each of us. His name was San Pedro (Saint Peter). A couple people from the accident went looking for him after the accident to thank him. The hospital said no one by that name worked there. They tried to explain who he was and what he looked like.
No one with that description worked there.
We had ALL touched him, talked to him, interacted with him. But then the hospital said no one by that name works there?
I guess our doctor was Saint Peter. Entertaining angels unawares.
My body still hurts tremendously some days. I still white-knuckle the car door when anyone else is driving. I still cry before bed sometimes thinking about it. The scar is still very prominent across my entire right collarbone. I still think, “what if?” But at the end of the day, I am alive. With a testimony. God’s goodness is real, and tangible, and true, and beautiful. And I still wrestle with my faith on my bad days, but I fall asleep knowing the beauty of God is real and deeper than any of my fears or failures or doubts.
"My Lord God. I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you, does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always, though I may seem lost in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone." - Thomas Merton