Don’t you just love when kids tell you that? I know our children get equally aggravated when I put them off with the same phrase. Maybe that’s why so many school children have problems learning the concept of time. A minute is 60 seconds? No way. Not in our world.
My senior year of college kicked off with one of the most tragic events of my life. My parents, Reverend and Mrs. Gerald Hunter, were killed in a car accident early one September morning. I received a phone call from a friend early that morning who thought I already heard the news. I hadn’t. An hour later, after a confused phone call from my aunt, uncle and hysterical grandparents, a cousin came over and shared the news that my parents ran into the back of a livestock truck and both were instantly killed.
Of course I was in shock. All that went through my mind when the words hit my ears was, “Run!” So, that’s what I did. I grabbed my keys; thank God I didn’t actually get in my car, but I ran and sat by the pond in our apartment complex. My room mates and cousins looked at one another, not knowing what to do. Immediately, my mind flew to my brothers. Where were they? What were they doing? Marshall was seventeen years old, a senior in high school. Matthew was only eleven, beginning his first year in middle school. I needed to go home. The rest of that horrible morning went by in a blur. Eventually, I went back to the apartment. Jeromy heard the news and immediately showed up to provide comfort. Dear friends filled my apartment. My ex-high school boyfriend graciously offered to drive me home.
I’ll never forget pulling up to my grandparents’ home that day. The front yard was empty but many cars were lined in the driveway. Blue skies, shining sun, pine trees swaying in the wind. All of the normalcy of that scene was shattered with a bright yellow sign that read Slow, Death in Family. I never understood that Southern tradition until that moment. It is a comfort to know that while the rest of the world might be turning, your world has come to a temporary stop. A loss so great, so tragic had ripped the foundation from underneath our feet. Children were orphaned. Parents lost children. I rounded the corner and saw all the people, every eye riveted on me. My grandfather came to me first. I don’t remember the words he said. All I remember is the sight of my middle brother heart-broken and in shock sitting on the dock that stretched out over the backyard pond. Then, most of all, I remember the green eyes of my eleven year old brother, Matthew, looking at me with all those unanswered questions swimming around, questions I did not know the answer to then and answers I don’t know the answer to now. Immediately, I grabbed him, ignored everyone else and said, “Let’s walk.” We went to the front yard and circled those pine trees. He missed them. Of course he did. They were his whole world. One thing I knew then though, they were in heaven. They were with the Jesus they served day in and day out. They were rejoicing. Never, even in the state of crisis my faith was in, never did I doubt that. Neither did I doubt that the grief, if embraced fully, would kill me. Very quickly, motivated by the shattered mess around me, the flip switched to anger. Anger at the God who took them and angry that all of us were left behind. That anger went unchecked for a very long time. That anger came to a slow simmer left on low until one day, God kicked the temperature up so high I couldn’t ignore it.
I knew I had junk that needed to be dealt with-big time. But not now. I developed a whole other way of responding to God. In a minute! The almighty “to-do” list became my best friend.
My parents’ accident was on a Tuesday morning, their funeral was on a Thursday, and I was sitting in class on Monday morning. "How are you Amanda?", many well-meaning, very concerned friends and professors asked. "Fine. I’m fine." Meanwhile, I obviously wasn’t fine. By this time, my best friend–who was becoming so much more— drove me to my first counseling session, kicking and screaming. Nevertheless, I went. He meant well, but I wasn’t willing and therefore, the counseling acted as a band-aid. A band-aid so tightly secure no one but the Creator of me could rip it off.
The next five years were a whirlwind of activity. My In a Minute was pacified with church attendance, occasional five minute grab and go devotions and a couple of on my knees I’m so sorry please forgive me prayer sessions.
Graduated from college with honors. Check.
Secured first teaching position. Check.
Got married to my best friend. Check.
Deliriously poor, but happily together and employed. Check.
Started and finished Master’s Degree. Check.
Secured a position at the age of 25 teaching on a university level. Check.
Will to live to see another day. No check.
The Galatians 5 challenge is all about pursuing one fruit during 2016. Mine is peace and through the telling of my story I hope to share a little of what this journey looks like for me. I invite you to join me.
Galatians 5:22-23 The Message
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.