Oh Dear!

Saturday, August 22, 2009
Oh Dear, I hit a Deer! The lesson I learned from hitting a 6 point buck

The night of Thursday, August 20th, 2009, I was driving from Waco, Texas (where I was doing a job), to Bryan, Texas, to hang out with my best friend and throw his wife a surprise birthday party.

It was 2:30 AM and I was just getting to Bryan as I made the exit from Highway 6 to Texas Avenue (as per the directions from Google). As I made the exit I was decelerating (but I was still going a good 55 MPH) when I saw a deer appear on the left shoulder of the road.

My first thought was: "Oh cool, a deer on the side of the road." But I quickly saw that the deer was not standing still, he was headed for the middle of the road, and my thoughts quickly went to "I am going to hit this deer!"

I instantly reacted and did two things: I hit the breaks, and I hit the horn. I have no idea if hitting the horn scared the deer at all, but it didn't matter: there was no way I was going to miss it. As the deer ran across the road, the passenger side of my front grill hit it in it's rear quarters. I quickly brought my Jeep to a rest on the right side shoulder, and I turned on the hazard light and turned off the engine. I could hear large amounts of liquids draining from my engine, and I instantly knew I would not be driving away from this spot tonight.

I got out and surveyed the damage (link to photo). As you can see, the right side grill, lights, and bumper were gone, and my radiator had sprung a leak. I walked back and quickly found that there were pieces (some large and some small) all over the road. After getting the big pieces out of the road, I called my best friend to come pick me up (he lives only a few miles away).

(While the above photo link is open to the public, if you are a friend (or a friend of a friend) of mine on Facebook, you can check out my album with 23 photos here.)

While I was waiting for my friend, a truck pulled over and two college age guys came out to help. After saying "Wow, that's f#*&ed up!" like 20 times, they helped me push my Jeep further off of the road for safety. (At one point one of the guys threw a drink can into the grass. After they left, I stepped on it and fount it was a beer can... And I think it was the driver's drink!)

Anywho, they left, and after a short wait an NAPA delivery truck pulled over to a stop to see if I needed help right as my friend arrived on site. We all surveyed the damage, and the NAPA guy left. I then called Geico Emergency Services (I have tow insurance), and after joking around for a while with the guy on the phone, he told me that a tow truck would be there in 45 minutes.

On a side note: I have been very pleased with my Geico services. Everyone that I have talked to is very cheery, very nice, and very thorough. So far, they have an A+ rating from me!

The guy in the tow truck finally showed up, picked up my Jeep, and we were able to go home. Less than two hours after I ended the life of a poor deer, I was in my friend's home getting ready for bed. The next day (Friday) I called claims at Geico, within two hours a guy was looking at my Jeep, and a few hours later it was towed to a body shop. Later in the day my dad and step-mom drove in from Brenham (45 minutes away) and let me borrow his truck (it used to be mine). It is now my main mode of transportation until my Jeep if fixed.

[That is the end of the detailed account of what happened. Now begins my philosophical response to the situation.]

In the 24 hours since the accident, my mind keeps coming back to one thought: "What could I have done differently?" It is not reasonable to say that I could have taken a different route into town, because I had no idea that a deer would be lurking on that exit, just waiting for me to swing by. My timing, my route, my meeting with the deer was completely uncontrollable and inevitable; there was nothing I could do to change that.

But could I have acted differently once I saw the deer? At first (a few minutes after the accident) I thought "If only I had swerved, I might have missed it." But the more I thought about it, the more I realized: I was going 55 MPH at the time, and if I had swerved, there is a good chance that I would have swerved onto the shoulder, lost control of the vehicle, careened into the median, and started to barrel-roll... at FIFTY MILES PER HOUR! When you look at it that way, I will take my chances with hitting the deer!

So the more I think about it, the more I realize that there is absolutely nothing that I could have done to prevent me from hitting the deer. And to be honest, it is bugging me. It is in fact bugging me more than the $500 coming out of my pocket to cover the deductible. The thing that is bugging me the most is: I was not in control of this situation. Not to say that I lost control of my vehicle or that I was not in a good mind at the time, there is simply nothing that I could have done to make the situation any better.

And this is perturbing me! I like to be in control of everything that goes on in my life! I like to know what is going on, and when and where, and how things are going to happen. I control what I eat, when and where I go places, when I go to sleep and when I wake up, what I wear throughout the day, how I spend my money, even how often I brush my teeth. My life is the perfect example of a control freak living a controlling life. And I am not alone: most people are in full control of their lives. It is human (and very American) to be in control of one's life at all times.

But at 2:30 AM on August 20th, 2009, I no longer had control of my life. For that one instant, there was absolutely nothing that I could do to improve my life.

For whatever reason, if it be God or Satan or "nature" or just plain luck, I was destined to hit a deer that night. But, once you accept that I was going to hit a deer, things went amazingly well for me. I have insurance, so past my deductible everything is covered. While the car was beat up, there wasn't major damage to it. And most of all, I walked away from the accident perfectly healthy and safe.

But, for every thing that went perfect that night, there were ten things that could have gone wrong. I could have lost control of my vehicle. My airbags could have deployed, causing further damage and causing me to lose control of my Jeep. It could have been raining, causing not only the accident to be worse, but then I would have had to deal with a busted up car in the rain. I could have been in the middle of nowhere, instead of 5 miles from my destination. I could have had a passenger in the car. I could have hit the deer with the center of my car, causing the deer to flip up and crash into the windshield.

I could have died.

Of all of the things that could have gone wrong (past me hitting the deer), none of them happened. NONE! And they all refrained from happening with no help from me controlling my life! Every single thing that didn't happen was a gift from God! Every possible outcome outside of what happened would have been worse, and God saw that and created the situation to be the best outcome for me.

Romans 8:28 says And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. While I believe that this verse is often quoted for selfish reasons (IE: God will bless me simply because I am a Christian), I am absolutely certain that this verse describes how God worked in my life that night.

The night of August 20th, God worked for my good. He watched over me, he protected me, he loved me. And this is all absolutely separate from anything I could do. God knew that his plan was best for me, and while I couldn't see it at the time (and I quite possibly still don't), I know that God is working for my good. And while the worst feeling I have about this event is still "I was not in control", it is instantly covered with a feeling of "That's OK, God was in control".

So if I had to sum what I learned from this event in one sentence it is this: Sometimes we have to lose control so that God can show us that he is in control.



Anonymous said...

GREAT insite! Have YOU ever considered being a pastor? God has a purpose for your life, too.


Helen said...

I'm glad you didn't die! And that you have Geico. Hmmm... you seem to be rather full of good ideas lately. Maybe you should come visit more often, sans deer.

Stephen said...

so the deer was 'lurking'?

he was an evil genius waiting to enact his diabolical plan upon some unsuspecting passer-by?

I can just imagine the 'lurking' deer in his trench-coat and shifty, shady eyes...

well... he well he wasn't a very good evil genius and/or it wasn't a very good plan...

cuz he's dead....

or... do you think the CBSOB (Consortium of Body Shop Owners of Bryan) set him to 'lurking' in order to get themselves more business?

hmm... I smell a conspiracy...

Stephen said...

2 Corinthians 12

9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Matt said...

Yeah, that's great and all, but it was actually the morning of the 21st, so that nullifies everything you just said. ;-P

Seriously, though, I really like everything you said about it. I couldn't have said it any better... because I didn't hit a deer.

Brigette said...

that was a really good post. God is great!

Matt said...

So, this is still the top post?!