The foulness of vomit filled my mouth. Our girls were 48 hours post-accident. The initial shock sunk in and it felt as though my heart was on the outside of my chest. The bitter bile taste comes up just thinking about it. I stumbled out of the bathroom of the Pediatric ICU and slid down the wall. Two of my closest friends came and sat alongside me. Grief crashed over me in relentless waves. I wept from a place in my soul I had no idea existed.
The waves slowed, I swallowed back the bile, and I gathered my composure – somewhat. I began to speak all kinds of fears.
“If the swelling in Olivia’s brain doesn’t stop then she is going to die. If Olivia dies then my family is going to fall apart. If God was with us then this wreck would not have happened.”
The words spilled out from my heart into cold air of the ICU. The men next to me listened and chose the hard work of carrying me through a desert of pain. The power of the imagination can, and will, take us places that are far from the truth of God.
Capturing our thoughts and holding strong when imagination spins us out of control is critical on our spiritual journey. The nucleus of the imagination is the word “if”. If/then statements are the creations of a belief. Wherever the “if” can project “then” a belief is created. The crazy thing is, we all do it. Let me show you what it looked like in my case.
In a nano second, a statement like, “If the swelling in Olivia’s brain doesn’t stop she is going to die,” changes to, “Olivia is going to die.” I cannot tell you how many times in the first 48 hours I “imagined” her funeral and absolutely believed it was going to happen. I sat for hours fighting the imagination. All the possibilities flooded my mind during our 77 days in the hospital. It was exhausting. Belief systems form in trauma, birthed out of if/then statements or thoughts.
Here is the problem, when we do not circle back and wash the if/then statement through the word of God, we can allow these beliefs to sink in and become lies which guide us. We need both the word of God and people around us to keep the lies from taking root.
Wiping tears from my eyes, I looked at the men sitting around me, unable to articulate the tangled mess in my mind and heart. One of them looked at me and asked, “Brandon, what do we know to be true?”
I said, “I know that Olivia is alive. I know that God has put you guys here so I am not alone.”
He responded, “Right. Keep focusing on what we know is true.”
With the help of my friends, we circled back to truth. In order for us to maintain spiritual equilibrium, especially in severe trauma, we must infuse truth. The bible says,
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
We must take rogue thoughts captive. We need others beside us to inject truth and point us to God’s word in order to reign in the imagination and bring the lies into submission.
Here’s the truth:
One year later, Olivia is alive and stronger than ever and playing softball. Emma just signed a scholarship to play Division 1 softball at Houston Baptist University. My wife has been a strong and faithful warrior throughout Olivia’s recovery. The strength and compassion my boys have demonstrated makes me proud every day. God was with the girls during the wreck, with us in the ICU, with us throughout their long and sometimes very difficult recovery, and He is with us now.
- What thoughts do you tend to focus on that are born out of a broken belief?
- What if/then statements do you tell yourself, imagining outcomes or trying to control the world around you?
- Who in your life can help you take broken thoughts captive?