My blood sister, Lauren, sometimes jokes that her middle name should have been Grace (instead of Faith) because of how accident prone she is.
Today, that's the word that comes to me when I think of what almost happened: the accident that could have been.
To set the stage: I live on the third floor of our house in what was technically designed to be an attic. The stairs are many, and they are steep. I don't think there's ever been a time when my friend Sarah (a gym instructor) has visited me and not said, "Oh my God, your stairs." And I admit, if ever I am tired, or carrying groceries, or just returning from spin class, and I've made it up one flight of stairs but have another one to go, I face it as though its Everest. Lots of groaning, heavy footed plodding, and wheezing.
That's going up.
But going down has never caused me much concern. I'm on the cusp of an age transition where I still perceive downhill as the easy direction, yet I realize that my knees and hips will soon be paying me back for all those years I sprinted down mountain trails and used two risers in step aerobics.
In any event, I left my apartment this morning, layered in gym clothing and sweats, and as I was hustling down, my foot got hooked on the bottom of my sweatpants in a mysterious way that caused my life to flash before my eyes.
It was that moment when your brain has registered what's about to happen, but the rest of your body is helpless the stop it--the neurons have already fired and everything is happening in slow motion because there's no stopping it now. And what I saw was the most epic fall: face planting, twisted ankles, busted knees, cartwheeling head first down the stairs. But despite my seemingly inevitable momentum, I managed to catch the landing with my hand, and the disaster was averted.
I narrowly avoided massive injury, and I am supremely grateful. So much so that I spent the morning saying, "Thank you Lord. Thank you Jesus. Let this stinging sensation in my hand forever be a reminder of what could have been." It got me thinking about the fact that when something bad doesn't happen--we don't get the bad diagnosis, we don't have to pay the full amount, we don't tumble down the stairs--we are grateful for maybe half a second, and then we move on with our lives. However, if we don't get what we want...well, then we dwell on that thing for all eternity.
It just seems a little backwards.
Had I broken an ankle yesterday, it would have affected every part of my life. What would I have done about the Global Scavenger Hunt? The devastation would have been sweeping. But because it didn't happen, I can ignorantly live in bliss and go on complaining about my mild headache at 4pm.
Therefore, I want to acknowledge the what-could-have-been's from which I was spared, and give thanks. Because that, too, is grace.