You know me and I have a flair for the dramatic, but what I am about to tell you I barely have the creativity and words to explain. Even now, my hands shake as I write.
I was heading up and over the train tracks onto the bridge that connects Bound Brook and South Bound Brook and passes over the Raritan River. I came up under the tunnel and onto the bridge and was stopped in bumper to bumper traffic. The car in front of me and behind me boxed me in at the entrance of the bridge and directly on top of the train tracks. I was casually talking (hands free of course) to my mom over my car speaker system. I glanced over my right shoulder as I heard a train blow its whistle. In that moment, I remembered that traffic had stopped leaving my car literally straddling the middle of the train tracks; And as I realized where I was, fear gripped me as both of the gates that prevent a car from crossing the tracks due to an impending train – began to close on top of my car – both the front and back – locking me right in the path of the oncoming train.
I tried to move up and the cars could not move and put my car into reverse to back-up but the gate was closing down behind me. I was trapped. I looked up to see a police officer running – scratch that – sprinting – with a look of terror on his face. He was a football field away at the opposite end of the bridge advancing frantically toward my car.
Seeing no other option; I pulled my car ahead into oncoming traffic- escaping the closing gate. I veered hard and pulled to the left just time time for the gate to close behind my van and the train to pass by blowing its whistle. The police officer doubled over to catch his breath. His body language confirming what I realized in that moment – he was trying to get me out of my car – because there was no way out.
I had no idea until I felt it pass behind my car; just how fast that train was moving and how close I came to meeting my end today.
As the police officer held traffic back so I could get back into my own lane; he exhaled deeply and approached my car window. Now trembling at the gravity of the situation; I welled up with tears; as he said, “That was a close one!” I answered him, “I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” – I am not really sure how those words were even the first to come to my mind – but to God be the glory.
All the while – my mom had remained on the phone. I didn’t immediately realize she was still on the phone listening through the whole incident -quietly waiting – helpless to change the outcome – and likely praying – willing to wait to hear what would happen to me.
She asked if I was okay? I was so traumatized – I could not even answer her in whole sentences. She stayed on the phone with me.
Despite her fears and helplessness, she stuck with me in my pit moment – willing to bear witness to a devastating accident – at the cost of her own peace and trauma. She stayed with me. She was silent – so as to protect me from further harm or confusion and to allow me to make quick decisions in a life or death situation. She waited until I was ready and able to talk to her and calmly talked to me to help me get to the point I could explain myself, the loud sounds of trains and horns blowing and the sudden voice of a strange man at my window.
Not many of us can say for sure they watched as God protected them from sure death. Today, I can say with certainty – there is no doubt without Divine intervention – I would have been dancing with Jesus today. Had any one thing been different – including there being cars in the oncoming lane – today would have had a very unfavorable outcome. If you want to know more about my certainty in my Savior, I’d love to talk to you about Him.
Today I can also say with certainty – when we experience trauma an fear – we aren’t in control of our thoughts, our actions, our bodies and our words. Here at Miriam’s Heart – we talk a lot about being in the pit with your kids. Being willing to be with them in their trauma – to hold their hand as they walk the difficult road of healing – and today my mom modeled it.
Our children who have walked through terrifying situations are not always in control of their thoughts, their actions or their words.
Without knowing it, my mom modeled some pretty impressive trauma-competent parenting. She remained calm and quiet when it was real bad. She stayed with me. She prayed for me.She waited until I was ready to talk. She validated the reality of my fears. She encouraged me. She used kind words to calm me down when I was ready to talk.
Perhaps you’re in the midst of some pretty terrible behaviors? What if we were to imagine our kiddos being chased down by their own train of fearful thoughts and beliefs? Consider that some of those choices they are making in the midst of fear aren’t being made in the right mind?
There is a reality to the impact of fear in our mind, body and spirit. I felt them all today. I invite you to let this lesson settle deeply your heart and mind and invite you to consider the lesson God has for you on the day God saved my life.
(pictured is the train tracks/tunnel that I was stopped on and the lanes right in front of me)