Surviving an Accident: Learning to Live Again

How do you deal with sorrow and guilt that comes from being the cause of an accident. It is not an intentional act that requires confession and forgiveness, it’s just an accident. An unfortunate mistake in judgement, like spilling a glass of milk at a meal, or pulling out from the gas pump with the hose still stuck into the car. These are minor examples, but what if it is a major accident that results in someone being injured or killed. These accidents are life changing and extremely hard to get past. Frequently, they lead to isolation and depression from all the psychological pounding. It is analogous to a log caught in the rocks hammered by turbulent whitewater.

A log trapped in whitewater

A log trapped in whitewater

My mind swirls with relentless self-recriminations that I cannot switch off. The condemnation I feel begins to build to high levels. Friends with good intentions throw verses at me like: “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away,” or they talk about it being God’s will or purpose. But these words only seem to make me feel more isolated and upset, no one understands, I feel alone. The worst battering comes from the inner voices constantly berating me: “how could you be so stupid” or “you should be stronger … where is your faith.” With all this, the burden of guilt only seems to grow, not slacken. I begin to wonder if life is worth living.

Learning to Live

First, I must understand there is no easy answer or quick remedy. Second, I have have to learn to breath again, taking one breath at a time. This involves forcing myself to breathe in truth in the form of a memorized verse (e.g. “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” – Psalm 27:10) Then I exhale a prayer for help. Inhale truth, exhale prayer, over and over until the truth starts to sink in. I constantly remind myself “don’t panic,” for the waves will keep coming. During this process false accusations will bounce around in my head, stuff like: “you’re a failure,” or “you deserve to die.” I can only refute these lies with truth from God’s Word.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (including terrible accidents) will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Lastly, commit your way unto God, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Prov. 3:5)

Living Water

Icicle River Spring snow melt

Icicle River Spring snow melt

Water running so pure and refreshing, it is life giving, it is cleansing, it is soothing for tired feet after a long hike. But, if we realized it is just a metaphor for the living water Jesus wants to give us, then we would let go of everything else to partake in this blessing. Adding to the joy would be helping our family and friends to join the jubilee. One important fact is it matters not how tired and dirty you are, for the living water will wash it all away. Step in, the water is wonderful.