Yesterday, I read an entire book in one sitting. No, it wasn’t Where’s Waldo or Are You My Mother?, though it’s been too long since I’ve had a good Where’s Waldo challenge. Anyways, with my toes burrowed in the sand, the waves rolling dangerously close to my chair, and the sun wreaking havoc on my shoulders, I read a respectable 200+ page account of a fashion blogger’s life-altering accident when hit by a plane propeller. Her name is Lauren Scruggs, popularly known as LoLo. You may have seen her story on the news back in 2011, when the world became fascinated by how someone entrenched in an appearance-driven industry could exude such incredible positivity in readjusting to life without a left eye or hand.
I’ll admit, I’d vaguely heard her story and was under the impression that she was a jet-setting model who somehow walked into a propeller while exiting a luxurious private airplane. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a jet-setting model, but it’s ridiculous how the media misconstrues things about a person’s personality or circumstances. Lauren is not a dumb blonde super model who casually strolled into a plane propeller with a Louis Vuitton bag in tow. No, she is a young writer and entrepreneur in the fashion industry who was taking a joy ride in a family friend’s tiny two seater. She used the wheel as a stepping block to exit the plane, which landed her right at the front of the aircraft- near the propeller. When plane propellers are in motion, they spin so quickly that they are pretty much invisible, given that you can see right through them. Add that to dark, rainy conditions, and any one of us could have walked around the plane and not seen the edge of a propeller. Only 1/16th of an inch of metal hit Lauren, but her skull cracked and lodged into her brain, her hand was completely severed, and her left eye was split in two- among other crushing injuries. In her book, Still LoLo, she describes her life up until that point and how her faith in God prepared her to keep moving forward in the most incomprehensible circumstance.
Along with every other human being on the planet, I have experienced ups and downs in life. What I’ve found is that ups and downs don’t necessarily reflect the difficulty of circumstances, rather the mental state in which I’m capable of coping with whatever hardship I face. People would probably assume that the hardest thing I’ve ever coped with is losing my mom to cancer. Oddly enough, that’s not the case. Yes, losing a parent is an overwhelming experience that never fully ends, but for the first few months, I only cried about once every other month. Thanks to the support and closeness of my last relationship, I now allow myself to truly miss my mom about once a week. It’s a bit tiring, but therapeutic to be in a space that I’m not brushing over any thoughts fear of being sad. Although dealing with that loss is far from easy, my ability to cope has been made easier by my mom’s faith and the concrete separation- knowing there is nothing I can possibly do to get her back.
What leads me to my lowest valleys, even more so than dealing with my mom’s death, is losing people who are still here. Whether it’s a break up or natural growth away from close friends, I am not mentally capable of handling those partings as healthily (even though they’re not “technically” has devastating). If I’ve loved someone- friend or otherwise- I’ll always love them. I have never had a falling out with a friend or held a grudge towards an ex. This, in theory, is great- but also makes it difficult process why certain people can only be part of my life for a season. I want to love everyone forever! Each time I have to accept that a friendship/relationship is no longer what it once was, I become profoundly upset- even angry. Why do we become so close to other people, only to wake up one day and barely know them? What’s the point? And why would God bring people into your life, only to take them away?
These questions may garner cliché responses like “Everything happens for a reason” or “You learn lessons from each person who comes in and out of your life.” Those things are probably true, but Still LoLo helped me remember that sometimes the surest way to peace is accepting that we’ll never fully understand why hardships are placed upon us or why we handle certain struggles better than others. Part of Lauren’s story was written by her parents, who were married for 10 years, divorced for 7, then remarried to each other. Reading about their divorce and remarriage reminded me that although things may certainly feel devastating at the time, God is great enough to bring people back together in the most unforeseeable ways.
Aside from her parents’ story, I was so enthralled by Lauren, who is my age exactly, as she walked readers through the insecurities and questions that came with her new disabilities. She only kept moving forward because of her faith-based support group, comprised of people who constantly led her back to trusting God. Sometimes I plainly don’t like trusting Him because His rhyme and reason is rarely made clear in this lifetime. How frustrating. My friends and family know that nothing rattles me more than not understanding something. I’d rather keep thrusting my square-shaped plan that makes sense in my head into the circular hole that is my life’s path, instead of patiently waiting for God’s circular plan and my circular path to come together nicely.
For the past three months, I have been so frustrated with not understanding circumstances that I have blatantly been shoving my square peg into a round hole, thinking that at least that’s better than blindly sitting around wondering when God is going to do His big, bad thing. But the whole essence of faith is not understanding, and trusting anyway. I’ve gone through enough questioning to know that I definitely believe in God, so it’s about time I stop getting mad that my beliefs require me to be okay with not understanding. That’ll just be endlessly exhausting. I can either decide that God must not exist (which I’ve tried but, sorry, I’ve concluded that He does), or just “let go and let God.” I know I’ll never be really good at the latter, but thanks to a great beach read, I’m back on the right track. And hopefully, this blog will help you get there, too!