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Get Out of the Middle of the Road

Chrystal Evans HurstBy Chrystal Evans Hurst

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

In my midtwenties, I took a business trip to San Francisco. I had been asked to go receive training for a new job. I’d never been to the city before and decided to stay an extra couple of days to see the sights.

During my stay I had the opportunity to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, and to this day I count that experience as one of my favorite adventures of all time. My ride went exactly according to plan—a few miles along the coastline, a steep uphill climb to enter the path leading to the bridge, a cruise across the bridge overlooking the bay, and a smooth downhill sail to the quaint town of Sausalito, where I ate lunch, rested, and then headed back across the bay by ferry.


Almost a decade later, I decided to relive that San Francisco adventure, this time with my daughter and a girlfriend. I was, of course, excited about taking them to see the city I’d fallen in love with ten years before, but I was especially interested in introducing them to that fantastically flawless experience of biking across the bridge.

The morning after we arrived, we jumped on a trolley headed toward the waterfront to rent some bikes and begin our adventure. Leisurely riding through Fisherman’s Wharf, past the marina, and through Presidio Park, we laughed and talked loud enough to hear each other over the noise of the ocean, seagulls, and nearby traffic. We pedaled toward the Golden Gate Bridge, stopping here and there for a photo before eventually dismounting our bikes to walk them up the steep hill to the mouth of the bridge. Then, with butterflies floating around in our tummies, we mounted the bikes, entered the pedestrians’ path, and made our way across the famous landmark and over the San Francisco Bay. The day was beautiful, the views were perfect, and the three of us smiled with satisfaction as we took it all in.

After arriving at the other side and stopping for a few more pictures, we rode toward Sausalito. I was looking forward to the easy ride down that long slope into the quaint town.

She's Still ThereAbout three minutes into the descent, I remember thinking that the bike was going too fast. And I remember thinking that I should probably brake just a bit to slow the bike down.

So I tapped on the brakes.

The bike stopped abruptly.

My body, on the other hand, did not.

I don’t remember flying through the air. I don’t remember hitting the pavement. I don’t remember feeling any pain. I simply remember thinking, Girl! Get yourself out of the middle of the road!

As I crawled on my hands and knees to the shoulder of the road, I realized that my daughter had jumped off her bike and was crying and running toward me. My brain felt as if it were ricocheting back and forth inside my skull.

I felt a bit of an ache on my right side and a twinge of pain on my left, but those were not enough to distract me from my goal of getting to Sausalito. I figured I just needed a second—a chance to get my act together—and then we could be on our merry way.

I thought I would be okay.

My daughter didn’t think so.

She asked me to look down at my shirt, and when I did, I realized it was covered with blood. I glanced at my left side to identify the source of the pain that was now radiating up my arm. My pinky finger was throbbing. It also seemed to be oddly shaped. I looked at my right arm and realized that my elbow was busted up.

My friend had called an ambulance, and when it arrived, one of the emergency medical personnel squatted in front of me, looking me over and asking me the types of questions you ask a girl who has just flown head-first off her bike.

“Are you okay?”

“Do you know your name?”

“Who’s the president?

“What year is it?”

I guess the way I looked to the EMT, those questions were necessary. But I only felt irritated by his questions and offer of assistance. He was getting in my way.

All I wanted to do was get back on my bike and on my way to Sausalito.

Achiever. Control freak. Doggedly determined to make things work.

I reasoned with myself, figuring I could tolerate my pain long enough to get back on that bike and make it to Sausalito. Then I would put my bike on the ferry, pedal back across the bay to San Fran, and get myself to a hospital.

Insane. Crazy. Muy estupido.

The EMT closed his eyes and leaned his head to one side while taking a deep breath, willing himself to patience with this stubborn woman he had found himself caring for.

“You could, ma’am, but I don’t recommend that. You are hurt, and I think you need to come with me so you can have your pain addressed.”

I didn’t want to admit that I needed help. I didn’t want to acknowledge that my left pinky finger was hurting terribly (because it was broken), my right elbow was pulsing with pain (because it was fractured), and my brain was still ricocheting back and forth in my skull (because I had hit my head on the pavement). And I didn’t want to confess that the sight of blood had totally unnerved me.

Never in a million years did I think I would take a trip designed for relaxation and pleasure only to find myself sitting on the side of the road injured.

All I’d wanted was another perfect day, another great experience, another adventure that lived up to my expectations.

Sometimes, though, our days don’t live up to our expectations.

To find my way out of the mess I’d found my way into, I only had one option: I had to acknowledge my predicament.

I had to own my story in order to fix my story.

It takes one brave chick to admit that her life is not quite shaping up to be the life she envisioned. It takes courage to pause and assess your disappointment, realize where you’ve been disenchanted, and identify the source of your distress.

So many of us press through the pain without paying adequate attention to our brokenness. We disregard the ache in our hearts, as if ignoring the injury will cause the blood to stop flowing. We convince ourselves that somehow we don’t need to deal with the distance between our expectations and our reality. We think that somehow, if we just keep going, the distance will simply close by itself.

It won’t.

You and I must play an active role in closing that gap.

And the first step in closing the gap is to admit that the gap exists.

Owning your story can be an uncomfortable first step, but in the words of Brene Brown, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” It might feel like you’re coming out of hiding and seeing your scars for the first time in the full light of day. But telling yourself the truth is not an admission of powerlessness. It is when your story is in full view that you have the greatest ability to see what healing work needs to be done.

Owning your story is an act of strength.


She's Still ThereAdapted from She’s Still There by Chrystal Evans Hurst. Click here to learn more about this title.

What’s a woman to do if her life is not taking shape the way that she thought that it would? What happens when she looks at herself in the mirror, lingering just a little longer than usual and realizes that she no longer recognizes the person staring back at her? What does she do when she sees that, somehow, her life has drifted away from all her original hopes, dreams, or plans?

Speaker, blogger and writer Chrystal Evans Hurst wrote this book because she was that woman. One day she realized that she had somehow wandered away from the life that she had purposed to live a long time ago.

Chrystal since discovered that this moment of awareness happens to lots of women at different seasons of their lives. Poor decisions, a lack of intentionality or planning, or a long-term denial of deep hopes and dreams can leave a woman, old or young, reeling from the realization that she is lost, disappointed, or simply numb.

And she just needs encouragement.

This woman simply needs someone to hold her hand, to cheer her on, and to believe with her that she is capable of still being the person she intended to be or discovering the girl she never knew was there in the first place.

Chrystal uses her poignant story of an early and unexpected pregnancy, as well as other raw and vulnerable moments in her life, to let readers know she understands what it’s like to try and find your way after some missteps or decisions you didn’t plan on. In She’s Still There Chrystal emphasizes the importance of the personal process and the beauty of that path as it is shared authentically from one girlfriend to another. It’s a book of “me toos,” reminders of the hoped for, and challenges for the path ahead—to find direction, purpose, and true satisfaction.

Chrystal Evans Hurst co-authored the bestselling book, Kingdom Woman, with her father Dr. Tony Evans. She reaches a wide audience speaking at conferences, sharing on her blog, Chrystal’s Chronicles, writing for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and by teaching and leading women in her home church. As the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of the Hurst household, she is a dedicated wife to Jessie and mother of five. Chrystal lives just outside of Dallas, Texas.

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Filed under Books, Guest Post, Reflections, Women