There. I’ve Owned It.

Last night, I was driving home from a meeting and my car struck a deer. There. I’ve owned it. I was at this meeting and off-handedly said as I walked out the door, “I hope I don’t hit a deer on the way home.” Everyone chuckled because it is fall and the deer are down out of the ridgeline looking for water in the arroyo and they are constantly crossing our yards and streets. It is what it is. And with this thought forefront in my mind, I headed for home.

It was over before it happened. And I have been oddly peaceful about it. Oddly in that I haven’t cried or dreamed or fretted. I feel bad, yes. So, please don’t go throwing bricks through my windows for being a careless vehicular operator. I feel bad, but not broken.

So, here’s the throwback. About 15 years ago, I was driving home in the dark on a road I didn’t normally travel. I hit an opossum. It nearly broke me. I cried the entire way home and well into the night. The next day, when I went to school to teach, I was still shaken. A mentor friend of mine who is well-versed in Native American mythology and spirituality tried to comfort me with the Native American belief that often animals will sacrifice themselves for a human in order to impart a particular characteristic of theirs to the human. She suggested many noble characteristics that the opossum might have imparted, but the one that sticks out after all these years is “what does an opossum do when it is afraid?” It plays dead. Fear and playing dead.

There has been a lot of fear these past 15 years. Fear that has grown cold and immoveable, dead weight. Fear that has robbed joy, that has bound and stifled life. Fear that has taken me down to the core at times.

So, I’ve been mulling last night’s events in light of my earlier experience. If it is possible that the opossum imparted some of its characteristics to me 15 years ago, than what did the deer impart last night?

Beauty? Strength? A wild freedom? Graceful gentleness?

Maybe this marks a new start? Maybe this is the breakthrough I’ve been awaiting? Maybe this is symbolic of a restart? I can throw off the opossum, stop playing dead, and can wow, run and leap and flash great big doe eyes and stop hearts with the beauty and grace my heart now possesses. Can it be?

I’m thinking about the moment, about how one moment there was an open road ahead of me and in the blink of an eye there was a deer. Was it a sacrifice? I can’t really wrap my head around that notion. It seems a little too egocentric. And not for a second would I believe that God placed that deer at that exact moment for that exact purpose. No. I can believe that He is able to redeem the situation, make good come out of it, but it is a broken world and sometimes animals do jump in front of our cars.

There’s something about that word – sacrifice. I’m trying to see around it. Sacrifice. A giving up of something, a replacing of something in order to save it, blood and pain. And there it is. Sacrifice. I don’t need the deer to sacrifice for me. I don’t need the sacrifice, because a sacrifice has already been made.

When Jesus died on the cross, he was the sacrifice.

And what did he impart through his sacrifice? I am made new. He washed me clean, sainted me with righteousness, set me free from the law, and established residency in my heart.

Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we can take off the old, ragged, dirty clothes of our sin. We are wrapped in a beautiful cloak of strength and righteousness. Language is a struggle here. How do words express the transfer? How do words hold the magnitude of meaning?

I’m asking if this is a new start, if this is a throwing off of the dead opossum act and putting on the wild freedom, grace and beauty of the deer. But that is a moot question. Because I am already wildly free from shame and guilt and the past and from the labels of old. I have already been made beautiful.

I emailed the friend I spoke my hope to last night and shared with him how indeed my words had come true. He queried, “Does this fall under the name it and claim it category?”

I don’t know. But I do know that I can name my salvation. My salvation comes from the Lord (Jonah 2:9). And I can claim it. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to save us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Because God so loved the world that He gave His only son so that whoever believes in him might have life eternal (John 3:16). There. I’ve owned it.

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