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May 8, 2019

The Battery

I’m not exactly a trusting person when it comes to personal safety.
3 min read

I’m not exactly a trusting person when it comes to personal safety. I don’t trust airplanes to stay up in the sky when I’m in one. I don’t trust my ability to drive safely when I’m lost or upset. I don’t trust myself not to pass out cold when I’m in front of people speaking or performing some other task that I can’t screw up. I don’t trust my body not to succumb to panic attacks for no good reason. Or put on five pounds of weight overnight.

This pattern of underlying fear manifests in my emotional as well as physical life. Although part of me knows that I have gained wisdom, strength, and (dare I say?) stability from the struggles I have endured, I still believe that my next mental breakdown remains one perfect storm of circumstances away. And although I have come to depend on the love and care of a benevolent God, I don’t exactly trust him to protect me 24/7. I am far more devoted to the idea that forces of darkness and entropy track me more attentively, ready to pounce. Especially when I’m trying to accomplish something good. I’ve experienced too much pain to think otherwise. Horrors happen. To any of us, no matter our creed or convictions, or how hard we may try to do the right thing—even the best thing—on a regular basis.

So imagine my surprise the other night when I narrowly escaped a catastrophe that I had not seen coming. And believe me, I keep a sharp eye out for trouble, hoping to fend it off well before it reaches my door.

On the evening in question, I was calmer than usual considering that I was dealing with a tired and hungry child while trying to make dinner. I had managed to put together my grandmother’s mushroom meatballs, adding a few extra flourishes that included fresh ground pepper on top of the casserole. When it was ready and I pulled it from the oven, I noted with satisfaction how beautifully it had turned out. It was going to taste so good, nourish my family, and give me the energy boost I needed to get my son through his nighttime routine.

I grabbed a large spoon and scooped up a serving of the piping hot food.

Thunk.

Something hard and unidentifiable had landed on my plate along with a meatball. Taking the object to the sink, I washed off mushroom gravy and saw that I was holding a disfigured AA battery.  One that must have fallen from the electric pepper grinder I had used and then had baked right into the dish.

I looked at the mangled battery. Then at those tantalizing meatballs. Then back at the battery. A question began to form in my mind, one eerily similar to what Eve must have posed when she considered her fruit in the garden. I was so damn tired. The food looked so damn good.

How bad could it be, really? 

A voice pierced my reverie, belonging to my mother. She often eats supper with us.

“Don’t fool around with batteries, Rebecca. They have dangerous chemicals. Throw it out.”

Instantly I snapped awake to two chilling facts. First, that I might have eaten poison had not another person stopped me. Second, that I most certainly would have eaten poison had I not discovered the errant battery in that first scoop.

So much of getting through our day unscathed depends on outside factors we cannot control. People being in the right place at the right time to help us. Us doing exactly what we needed to have done in the moment, completely unaware.

Even now, it’s still hard for me to ponder. How much God has to arrange for me and my loved ones to stay safe. And how one day it might be me—faithless, imperfect, exhausted me—whose words yank someone else from the ledge.

Like it or not, I need to learn to trust in a divine hand leading and protecting me. All the time. Either that or develop a stubborn obliviousness to danger that obviates the need for trust in the first place.

I think we all know which is far more realistic for a hypochondriac with catastrophic thinking.

And so I choose trust. In my own neuroticism if nothing else. Because I’ll never be someone who blithely rides the subway with her eyes closed, assuming she’ll be fine.

Who knows, I may get better at spotting the behind-the-scene movements—divine or otherwise— that I suspect are going on all the time on my behalf. Especially if I pray and ask to see them.

Worth a shot. You?