Cw: Vehicle-related trauma described.


When I was twelve years old, I was in a car accident.

It was June 1st, 2015, and my family and I were on our way to my grandparents’ house. The nine-hour trip wasn’t one we made regularly, but we made it often enough to feel confident in the journey. We were about one hour from our destination when it started to rain, just enough to get the highway slick. As the truck in front of us slammed to a stop, we safely braked, having left enough space between vehicles. But a bigger truck behind us was holding too much cargo and didn’t stop in time. It crashed into us, totaling our 2004 Honda Odyssey.

I remember many things from this experience. I remember no one had died from the crash. I remember my little sister charming the EMTs and ER nurses with her sweet smile and innocent questions. I remember neck braces and x-rays, both of my parents crying, and having to be transported to a children’s hospital. But of all the things I remember, this sticks out the most: 

It was the first time I experienced what I now call “The Unknown.” 

“The Unknown” is an umbrella term I use to describe any major change in my life—changes that come with a sense of displacement and uncertainty. The loss of a loved one. The transition of people in leadership. A new house in a new place. A traumatic experience. I’ve experienced many Unknowns in my life, and I’m bound to experience more as time goes on. But that first time was striking to me. Before the crash, my life wasn’t filled with too many Unknowns, and I wasn’t sure how to respond in that moment.

Here’s what I’ve learned about Unknowns in the years since:

  1. Unknowns are an opportunity to slow down.

    It’s easy to see our world as constantly moving, bouncing from one thing to the next. While Unknowns seem like an inconvenience, they can actually be a blessing. Don’t get me wrong; we need to engage with others and with the world around us. But when our busyness comes at the expense of our physical health or relationship with God, an Unknown might be just the thing to halt us in whatever we’re doing to bring us closer to Him. I look at the life of Joseph, the favored son of Jacob. Joseph was sold into slavery, falsely accused of assault, and was left forgotten in a prison cell. He had no idea when he might be released from prison and was ultimately left waiting for two years. Yet his time of waiting wasn’t wasted. Joseph found favor with the warden and the other prisoners and was still shown God’s “faithful love” during this Unknown. In the end, Joseph still rose in the ranks to become the second most powerful man in Egypt. And he knew God was with him through it all, encouraging him in the darkest moments of the Unknown.


  1. Unknowns are an opportunity to put things into perspective.

    As imperfect humans, we often become too absorbed with ourselves and our own little worlds. When something unexpected comes in, it can be used to shake us out of our narrow mindsets or selfish habits. It can provide us with the perspective and space needed to create change in our lives. I’m reminded of Esther, a young Jewish woman who was kidnapped from her life and home and forced to marry a dishonorable king. Soon after her marriage, a plot to massacre her people was discovered. Her cousin, Mordecai, encouraged her to use this new position to save her and her family from destruction, but Esther was initially hesitant. She knew speaking up and revealing herself as a Jew was a great risk, possibly leading to a death sentence. With Mordecai’s help putting this Unknown into a different perspective, Esther was able to see the significance of her place in that moment of time, allowing God to save His people once more.


  1. Unknowns are an opportunity to see our amazing God at work.

    Let this one sit with you for a minute. You get to see God, our loving and faithful father, fully involved and working in your life in Unknown moments. While these aren’t the only times to see God at work, we often overlook His grace, especially when life is going really well. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was able to experience this firsthand. Though she thought her life was going to go in one direction, she accepted God’s call into the Unknown with humility. Mary trusted that God was fulfilling His promise to His people through her. Unknowns not only provide the opportunity, but they also make it hard to avoid God’s glory.


Time and time again, God has presented His people with unknowns, using them to show the strength, beauty, and character of the Almighty Creator. I’d never claim Unknowns are easy. I still have a pit in my stomach every time I enter a car, and I don’t know if that will ever go away. I’ve been changed by my Unknowns, yet God has used them to move me closer to where He wants me to be. 

That said, it’s hard to endure difficult and confusing circumstances, so here are three steps to help you live with the Unknown:

1. Surrender your Unknown to God. (Psalm 55:22, Romans 12:12)

Understand what’s happening to you is something beyond your control. Unknowns often feel too big for us to handle. But God, the most powerful being in the universe, not only offers to carry our burdens, but invites us to give them to Him. He wants us to draw near to Him in our times of need. Spend some time in prayer and in reading His word. And don’t be afraid to cry. We sometimes need to allow ourselves to break down in order to be rebuilt again.


2. Talk through your Unknowns with others. (Romans 12:15, James 1:19)

This doesn’t mean find other people who’ll brush aside your troubles to complain about their own, or someone who’ll just amplify your fears. Find someone who practices what I call “the ministry of silence”; someone who’ll simply sit there and listen. These friends will recognize when you’re broken, and they won’t try to force other brokenness on you during a time of vulnerability. When they do choose to speak, however, listen to what they have to say. More often than not, what they’ll say is helpful.


3. Begin the process of healing. (Isaiah 38:17, Matthew 11:28-30)

This doesn’t just happen overnight. Healing from Unknowns takes time, and that’s okay. And healing doesn’t mean your life goes back to the way it was before. Allow yourself room to grow into who, how, and what God wants you to be. He wants you to be His child. He wants you to feel safe in His arms. He wants you to go on to do some pretty amazing things. And He wants you to know this as you move forward, having become stronger and wiser than before.

 It can be easy to feel alone in these times that feel unstable. But we’re far from alone. We have people who will listen to us. We have a Savior who died for us. We have a loving Father who has been there for us before we were even a thought. Even during all the rocky and uncertain moments, there is one thing we can truly know. God will always be by our side, even in the Unknowns.

Here’s a short prayer:

God. I just don’t know.

But I know you do. Help me to trust.

Draw me close to you.