What Smashing My Face Into a Car Taught Me About God


What Smashing My Face Into a Car Taught Me About God

Chris Frank

9 mins

I don’t think getting head-butted by a car is the typical ending of anyone’s Saturday night.

It’s been ten years since I should have died on a little street called Ida Avenue. I had been out drinking, blacked out…you’ve probably heard stories start like that. In my case, though, it ended with me somehow wandering into the street and being run over by a taxi and dragged for about 40 yards.

The ambulance never should have made it in time. I shouldn’t be here today. But I think God kept me alive to give me an opportunity to change my life—and not just change toward not drinking as much or not wandering into streets at 2 AM. Above all, a change with Him.

Leading up to that night was a culmination of depression and regret. I grew up in a faith-based home, but church was a box to check every week. We went to service on Sundays as a family and usually on Wednesdays during the school day, but I never felt like I heard from God in a language that registered to me. As soon as I was old enough to decide on my own if I would attend, I stopped going.

I still prayed to God at times, but I wasn’t growing closer or really putting my faith in him. I had made some decisions that I wasn’t happy about, and instead of talking to someone (or God) about them and how to move forward healthily, I tried to drink those problems and guilt away. Which brings us (back) to Ida Avenue…

What Smashing My Face Into a Car Taught Me About God

The brunt of the hit was to the right side of my head. The right side of my forehead was crushed, along with the orbital bone that went behind my right eye. My right temporal artery was completely severed, lacerations down the right side of my face and head. There was a large, deep laceration in the middle of my chest where the cross necklace that I wear was pushed in by the taxi, and the chain got caught on something on the underbody of the car and ripped it up in line with my sternum. Both my eyes were completely unresponsive, and I contained a blood alcohol content of .30 or something ridiculous. For context, anything above .08 is beyond being ‘very impaired,’ and at .40, you may be at risk for death or a coma.

The following taxi to pull onto Ida had two passengers. As if it were out of a movie (or more likely, by God’s grace), one was an EMT, and the other was an ER Nurse. They held me down (as my adrenaline was pushing me to get up), plugged my severed artery with their fingers, and kept me alive long enough for the ambulance to arrive.

What Smashing My Face Into a Car Taught Me About God

The doctors said I would have been dead in minutes if not for those two women.

The ambulance took me to a university hospital, which gave my parents a phone call at 4:30 in the morning. The social worker from the hospital basically told them, “Your son has been in an accident; he is unresponsive, and you need to get here now.”

My parents arrived, and the staff took them back to a room to discuss what to expect instead of sending them straight to see me. They told them that I’d had a massive head injury, and there was every possibility that the person who would wake up might not be the same person they spoke with the day before. I would more than likely be blind in my right eye, maybe both. My parents then saw me briefly, still unresponsive, before I was rushed to the operating room.

What Smashing My Face Into a Car Taught Me About God

The surgeons were going to try to put me back together, and that would require four separate surgical teams and six hours. The optical team was first—I had bone fragments drilled into the back of my right eye. Once removed, my eyes began to respond again. God showed up.

The ENT (ears, nose, throat) team was to follow. They worked on clearing out my sinuses and throat of all the blood, then packed my right sinus to keep it clean and sterile. Following was the cranial team, who removed the bone and fragments from around my brain and checked to see if I had a CFL (cerebrospinal fluid leak—which can result in meningitis and other serious complications). By some miracle, the avalanche of bone fragments didn’t pierce the lining around my brain. God showed up again.

The last team sewed up my head with over 120 stitches. The doctors decided to leave my chest wound open, though; they said it was better to let that one heal on its own from the inside out (the scar is pretty rad, and I’ll count that as God showing up again).

What Smashing My Face Into a Car Taught Me About God

Against all odds and the physics of cars dragging people the length of half a football field, I was going to be okay.

The recovery process was long, and after six months had passed, I was semi-back-to-normal. It was a miracle alone that I was alive, but additionally, that my eyes worked and that I didn’t have a CFL or a traumatic brain injury. Through as good of news as I could have asked for, however, I still wrestled with one aspect of the experience more than others:

I couldn’t forgive myself.

The most common outcomes for someone in an accident similar to mine are paralysis or death, brain damage, severely impaired cognitive or motor function, etc…yet here I was. I couldn’t figure out why God saved me; why did I deserve another chance to seek him (not to mention live)? Looking back, if I wasn’t careful, this same guilt and isolation I wrestled with for years could lead me back to an Ida Avenue situation.

What Smashing My Face Into a Car Taught Me About God

My shame lingered as my recovery did, but God was not done with giving me opportunities for change. No more than a year after the accident, I met a girl who caught my eye. Even after plastic surgery, the scars on my face and head were still pretty prominent, and I assumed I would kind of end up alone due to them. The fact there seemed to be potential with this girl came as a big surprise.

We ran into each other a bunch of times, and I eventually mustered up the courage to ask her out. When she gave me her address to pick her up for dinner, she just happened to live on Ida Avenue (like out of a movie, once again (or out of God’s grace and redeeming nature)).

We grew closer and closer, and she encouraged me to come to church with her, a place I had been far from for so many years. I had felt too much guilt and shame to step into such a place, let alone reconnect with God. In this new headspace (literally), though, I was ready to be pushed. I saw where a life outside of God and entrapped in my guilt would lead to—whether it be in this life or the next. I wouldn’t waste a chance this time.

Over time, by reminding myself of God’s grace, surrounding myself with community, and taking time to know Him, I found a close relationship with Jesus. I felt His presence. I heard His voice. I found joy in Him—something I once thought impossible or a waste of time. By the way, that girl became my wife, and we’ve been married for almost six years and have two beautiful children. God is good all the time.

What Smashing My Face Into a Car Taught Me About God

Looking back, I realize I actually didn’t deserve this second (or 74th, whichever you want to call it) chance in life. But that, in my new eyes, is the beauty and cornerstone of my faith. God’s undeserving, abundant grace freed me and allowed me to let go of my guilt and shame rather than wallow in it. God’s kindness and grace pushed me to turn to him.

“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).

Now, I am grateful for the story I get to tell, but I undoubtedly have remorse and regret for what I put myself (and others) through. My realization of what life with God could be came after catastrophe, but it didn’t have to. I could have chosen God beforehand. Many people don’t get that “second chance”—I just so happened to be someone who did.

Wherever you find yourself with God, I believe a chance awaits you—a chance to draw near to Him for maybe the first or 74th time. A chance to see that full life and grace awaits you today and not some distant year from now, where that chance may no longer be present. It almost wasn’t for me.

Your beginning (or renewing) could be joining a church community, squeaking out a prayer, or flipping open a Bible. That’s where I started—just a bit more banged up than I would have liked.

What led me to Ida Avenue was a pattern of choosing numbing vices out of disbelief that there was grace for my mistakes and failures. I thought I couldn’t find freedom or peace and needed to run from my past, not accepting that redemption was possible. Ironically, God showed me that even someone in my condition, lying broken on Ida Avenue, was redeemable.

Could that just be true for where you lay, too?

Disclaimer: This article is 100% human-generated.

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Chris Frank
Meet the author

Chris Frank

Introverted husband and father to very extroverted wife and children. OG WoW Player, Alliance Beast Mastery Hunter. Love to cook anything and everything—especially Italian, Hungarian, and Korean.

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