I’m writing these words only a couple of hours after this happened and I don’t know yet, what consequences are still to come. Maybe none, but maybe huge ones. I can’t wait to find out.
Spoiler alert: I’m fine and there is no reason to worry. This part of my story has a happy end and my adventure continues.
I actually planned to take the train, but since travel by car was cheaper my plans changed and I went on a journey I did neither expect nor want to make but ended up needing to make it. Because driving a car is difficult when you are not moving at all.
Driving to Bad Blankenburg (a town in the middle of Germany with not much else around) was fine. I was there for a Young Leaders Conference hosted by the German Evangelical Alliance. People from different church backgrounds, work fields, ages and places came together to think about God in our society. We talked about chances and challenges for Christians and how we can live for the one we all love: Jesus.
The conference was only a day long but it felt like family and I was excited about the love and openness in the room. We met each other eye-to-eye and everybody was encouraged to take part and share their opinions – young Christians as well as the heads of big Christian organisations.
It was exactly the right place for me, not only because I could get in contact with people for my career in media. These people applied what became more and more important to me over the last couple of months: a community of Christians, working together for the Kingdom of God. It was all about cooperating and supporting the strengths and weaknesses of the others.
One would think I got that part when I left the conference. Community and fellowship is important, nobody can do it alone and we all need help sometimes. My head knew that. I would never have guessed that I was forced to take it to heart only a few miles away from Bad Blankenburg.
On Thursday I had a light headache, which is unusual for me but nothing to really worry about. Only when my tasty lunch sat before me and I really did not want to eat it at all did I know something had to be wrong. So I decided to leave early and drive home, because I also needed to finish my master’s thesis on the weekend.
I didn’t even make it to the next town when a bad déjà-vu came to me and I felt like I did once last summer: slight headache, dizziness, about to faint. This time it was winter and really cold, so it could not be the heat, like I suspected last time. I stopped and after a couple of minutes of fresh air I went on my way, even if I was really cold by then.
I did not have time for this at all. My master’s thesis would not finish itself and I had other plans as well, so physical problems were unnecessary and unwanted. I was wrong (again). My thesis would easily be finished on time even with a little delay and these physical problems forced me to practice what I believe in. Those facts kept my stress-level at bay, but not my frustration and despair (which nobody would have noticed because I have my pride, too).
So I drove on but was quickly stopped again at a random dirt road because the dizziness came back. In these situations it is better to be too careful and not be too confident. Since I did come from a Christian conference, I started to pray and ask God for help, which he seemed to conveniently ignore (or not answer for my benefit). After five minutes in my cold car I was convinced God would not spontaneously heal me and I had to find another way out.
Next I called my dad, because he couldn’t really ignore me as soon as he picked up. His idea was less extreme than mine (continue driving or find a hospital) and so I found a pharmacy in a small town somewhere. There I hoped to get my body back on track to be able to drive home. I did not want to ask for help but by then I really didn’t have a choice anymore, I couldn’t get out of this by myself.
The pharmacist was super nice and gave me water and sugar and bread, but nothing helped. I was okay for a couple of minutes before the dizziness hit again. The woman told me that she had similar symptoms once and it was her cervical (where she was right in my case as well, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought).
I was surprised the town had a doctor but her practice would open two hours later. So I stayed at the pharmacy and when I couldn’t sit anymore, I moved to lie on the floor in the back room. There I was, stranded, helpless and only about 25 miles air-line distance away from my home without a way to get there.
While talking to the pharmacist I found out that not only I was the first stranded person there but also that I could help the woman as she helped me. I told her about my faith and how I was convinced God let me have this experience for a reason. She didn’t talk much, but apparently she was “really religious” and had had some situations to think about.
God would not be God if he didn’t sprinkle a little humor in situations like this. Mine came though the customers of the pharmacy who were relieved to find the visible boots in the back room still moving. There was no murder with a corpse still lying there. One older man talked to the head pharmacist who just got there about being young. They said they would not want to be young again, only if they knew at 20 what they know now about relationships and love.
I only listened to them and held back my snappy comments from the floor. I really wanted to say something sarcastic though, like “Thanks, I needed that as a young woman literally lying on the floor who has no idea where life would take her, has a thesis to hand in and is single as well.” Only the funny dialect they had made it more fun than annoying for me and I could almost feel God grinning.
At some point I was able to go to the doctor, although the packed waiting room almost held me back. Her diagnose: I don’t have enough muscles on my neck and shoulders, my head is not supported enough and that’s why I have these symptoms. But sorry, there are no pills for this and to tell me to be more active is not helping now either. So I can either try to keep on driving or somebody would have to come get me.
Basically nothing changed, I got in my car, cried to God and drove on. My hope was that God’s plan for my life was not finished yet and would not end that day. I concentrated less on God and more on the highway and the 50 miles to go, as fast and as safe as possible. First part of the journey was surprisingly fine while the last part was agony and luck. As the dizziness came back my driving was more automatic than conscious.
As promised this story has a happy end. I managed to get home in one piece although I was an emotional wreck by then and my body hated me. A couple of hours of sleep later everything looks better and the experience feels unreal. My doctor told me I should try to build up muscles to avoid this in the future.
This story is just a bit of what I learned over the last two days and I suspect God continuing to work on me. Although I am almost graduated from university, my studies in the school of life will never be done. Every time I think I passed a class there is a new one on the curriculum.
A conference among Christians was not enough to show me the importance of community. To really get it I had to lie on the floor of a pharmacy in the middle of nowhere with a stranger helping me. I can only hope I won’t forget that lesson so God won’t have to go to these length to teach me again.