It was just another dreary morning when the alarm on my iPhone started to blare. I rolled over, hit stop,and groggily tried to remember what day it was.
Sunday, I thought to myself.
Sundays were sometimes full. I was an extraordinary Eucharistic minister and I helped teach religious education, which started at 10:45. It was currently 10:15 so I had to book it.
I contemplated skipping but knew I made a commitment to the kids and to God I got out of bed, showered and dressed to head over to my church, which was less than 10 minutes away.
10:35 I saw on my car clock when I got in it.-I should be there on time.
Down and down I went through my apartment’s garage before emerging onto the street not really paying too much attention since I was late. I’d driven this way a million times before. Why would today be any different?
My car came to a stop at a red light. It was the last one I would have to go through before arriving at the church.
I could see it in the distance. It’s beautiful old white steeple poking out through a canopy of trees. It was a beacon of hope in my community for years that served as a place of refuge for African Americans during the segregation and the civil rights movement.
Now, it served as a beacon guiding me to my destination- the rowdy kindergarten and first graders I would see in less than five minutes.
10:43-I saw on my clock as I accelerated through the light that turned green.
Great-two minutes to spare. I would be cutting it close.
I drove through the first two lanes. The road was still slick from rain.
“I wonder what the kids will say today” they always were telling jokes I was thinking to myself when-
A car struck the front of mine pushing me back into the intersection.
I sat there stunned, in shock, as I processed what was happening.
“Oh my God…what?!” I shouted confused that my car was stopped, the front was a mangled piece of metal, and a land rover sat a few feet away with its air bags deployed.
Shaking and in tears, I pulled my phone out to call the first person who I knew could help. My friend Emily who was also teaching Sunday school. She told me she was on the way.
Next I called my dad to tell him and then 911 after a bystander, who was French, said he couldn’t do it.
The driver, a young woman, ran over to ask if I was okay.
She told me she hadn’t seen the red light and braked when it was too late.
Fast forward. The police came and collected our information. My car, my trusty car that I had lovingly named LaTonya, was towed away.
I went to the hospital for neck pain. I didn’t feel well. I was stiff and confused. Dizzy and delirious. Sure signs that I had a concussion. They sent me home with some medicine telling me the days ahead would be worse. I missed work the next day and was glad for it because I was in too much pain to really do anything.
All my friends and family were concerned so they bombarded me with texts asking if I was okay. I was. But it was the one text, I’ll always remember.
My mentor from the Given Forum, a religious sister based in the Midwest, was asking how I was and asked me to pray for her because she was having surgery.
She didn’t know I had been in an accident.
And when I told her what happened, her reply opened my eyes to the situation.
She told me to praise the Lord that I was entering into a season of the suffering of the Lord.
All of a sudden, it hit me that in pain we experience here, whether physical or emotional, it doesn’t have to be in vain.
It can be used for good if we offer it up. Not everything in life will be sunshine and roses. We’ll have inconveniences-minor and major-that can disrupt our lives.
But it’s up to us to use whatever God gives us.
As I my pain continued through the next couple of weeks, this text was a reminder to grow closer to God, who is a healer.
I think this can really hit home for some during Lent, where we willing give up something that will cause us to “suffer” in some ways.
But if we remember that there’s a purpose and a plan, it’s worth it.
One of my favorite sayings that helps me get through times of hardship and suffering is what Pope Benedict XVI says about the comforts of the world.
He says, “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness. “
My car wreck didn’t make me comfortable. My car was totaled. My neck was in pain. I was dizzy for weeks and not able to work at times.
But it showed me how precious life is and that our pain can be united to the Lord’s.
I hope when you doubt whatever sacrifice you made for Lent or whatever you decided to gain, you remember the words of Pope Benedict and know that the Lord, who knows and understands what it means to suffer, and who is beside you for the journey.
Kara Dixon is a TV reporter based in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Kara’s mission in life is to bring awareness to the beauty and diversity of the world through her stories. When she’s not reporting, stockpiling books for her library, or belting our her favorite Hamilton show tunes at karaoke, you can find Kara at church teaching religious education or feeding the homeless. You can follow her on Instagram @Karadixontv or on @karawavy.