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How to Live in a World of What If

Twenty-one years ago this month, I blacked out while driving on a highway in Portland, Oregon. I was pregnant with my firstborn, and the doctors think my baby somehow cut off circulation to my brain. I only remember taking deep breaths and feeling light-headed and thinking, I’m almost there, then opening my eyes to see colored wires hanging below my dashboard.

Had I run off the road?

I looked up to find myself backwards on I-205 with cars slamming on their breaks so as not to hit me. I got out because I had to move my car out of the way somehow. Then the driver of a semi-truck came running over.

He said, “I didn’t mean to hit you.”

I said, “I don’t know what happened.”

“You drove off the road, rolled back across it into the divider, then spun in front of me.”

I looked at my car. It was totaled except for the driver’s seat. The hood was somewhere down the highway. The windows were shattered. Everything else had been smashed in.

I looked at my overalls. There was glass down my shirt but not a scratch on me.

Witnesses said they were shocked to see me get out of the car in one piece.

The EMTs tried to get me to ride in the ambulance to the hospital. I refused the ride because I didn’t need an ambulance. However, I did need to make sure my baby was okay.

I went in for another ultrasound. My baby was fine, though we did find out one surprising thing. He was a BOY!!!

In that moment I knew God had big plans for my son’s life. After all, He’d pretty much sent angel wings to protect us.

What if… God allowed that accident because He knew ten years later my son’s dad would leave, and when he hurt so badly that he said, “I believe God has a purpose for everyone but me,” I could respond with confidence, “Oh no. I’ve known He had a purpose for you since before you were born,” and I could tell this story.

What if… God allowed my ex to leave because he knew in another ten years, I’d be going through cancer treatments, and He wanted me to have someone by my side who loved me the way Jim loves me.

What if… God allowed me to be admitted to the hospital this weekend due to low white blood counts because He wanted me to have the antibiotics that would help my blood counts rise enough to fight off the coronavirus that has us all wondering “what if…” in fear.

Bad stuff happens. It hurts. I’m not making light of it.

Even Jesus wept when Lazarus died. Jesus could have hurried to heal Lazarus when he’d found out his friend was sick, but he didn’t. He allowed it, he felt the pain, and then he brought the man back to life in a story that is still being told a couple millenniums later. What if that was no accident?

In the midst of our own pain and chaos, there are lots of unknowns. It may seem like we have no control, but we get to choose which way to ask, “What if?”

What if God doesn’t really exist/love us/have the power to change the world?


What if God is personal and all-knowing and allowing me to go through this for a reason?

One of those questions leaves me in fear. The other gives me peace.

Even though God protected me from getting hurt in my car accident twenty-one years ago, it still made life hard. Afterwards I wasn’t allowed to drive until my baby was born. I was pretty much quarantined while my husband went to work. Sometimes I’d put on my backpack and walk to the supermarket with my big belly helping to balance the load. Sometimes a friend would visit. But I remember it as a really lonely time in my life. And I will always choose to believe God allowed it for a purpose.

I don’t have all the answers. I only know which questions I want to ask.

What if… God wouldn’t let me to sleep tonight until I wrote this because he wanted you to read it?

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