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Lindsey Mitzel ponders a family emergency when all she could do was abandon herself to the arms of the Blessed Mother.

About a year ago my family decided to take a trip to the zoo. It was a great trip, and we all piled back into our car exhausted. We started for home, over an hour away, expecting the baby to fall asleep and the toddlers to settle into their chattering back and forth.

Then our tire blew out.

It happened so fast, my husband had just enough time to pull over to the side of the freeway. It was, naturally, rush hour, and the flat was, naturally, on the side of traffic. We both got out of the car, expecting to retrieve the spare, change the flat quickly and be on our way. However, after unpacking all the strollers and gear, we couldn’t find the spare. Next came the owner’s manual, which said nothing about spares. We wondered, did the car even have one?

We called roadside assistance and gave them our coordinates. They were going to send a tow truck. We had no idea how we would fit three kids in it, all in car seats. Roadside assistance didn’t know where the spare might be either. This was the point where I started to feel anxious. And this was about the point where the baby lost it too.

We pulled out YouTube and finally figured out that the spare was placed between the front console and the back seats, right under where my feet were. We wedged it out, and my husband started to try to jack up the car. Then the tow company called. They had sent someone out and wondered where exactly we were. A little back and forth, and we both realized that roadside assistance had called a towing company located more than five hours away. Meanwhile, I’d stumbled into the hole where the spare had been while trying to help the baby, and now all three kids were crying.

I started panicking. My husband was having trouble getting the car fixed with all the traffic, no one we knew was in town or nearby, and now everyone but my husband was crying. I googled anything close to us, found a fire station, and called to ask if they had any ideas. They told me they couldn’t help, but to call 911. I didn’t feel very comfortable doing that, since we weren’t really having an emergency, so ended the call feeling discouraged and tried to help our screaming children. I had no other ideas.

Out of desperation, I started to sing the Salve Regina. It’s what I’ve sung to our kids as a lullaby, so I was hoping it would somehow help. After singing the very last notes, I heard men talking outside our car, and wondered if my husband had called someone else to help. I turned my head and saw two firemen installing the spare. They were having a slow day and came to see if we still might need some help. Their truck was parked behind us and just over, forcing traffic around where the spare was being installed.

Later that evening, as I reflected on the craziness, I sensed Mary’s arms in place of the fire truck as we merged back onto the highway. I had felt so helpless and scared. Simultaneously, I also felt a desperate need to regain control. Mary showed me the grace she has been given to protect and guide us back to where we are meant to be. The reason it resonated so deeply at the time is because the situation hit on my weakest points. Think of where you struggle with trusting the Lord the most. For me, it’s my kids. I’ve suffered deeply in the past, and it’s hard to not worry that I will suffer deeply again.

Like this simple example, we are now living in times of true craziness, where many around us, if not we ourselves, are experiencing great anxiety and desperation, stemming from a profound lack of control and fear of the unknown. I sense that Jesus doesn’t want us to focus on our situation or our suffering, but to look at Him. When the criminal suffering alongside Jesus looked to him on the cross, he humbly asked, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42, NAB). In this moment the criminal was accepting his cross. When we look at Jesus in the tumultuous times, we see how he is bearing our own cross, our sufferings and our sins himself. Jesus says to us, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mattnew 11:28).

The truth is, I will suffer again. Maybe not as deeply as I have, but I will suffer. We are called to be like Christ, and to be his body. Here is the sweetness, however, that I have found with Mary: she will also comfort and guide us through any cross we’re called to bear. Just as she accompanies Christ during his Passion and stands at the foot of the cross, she will not abandon any of her children. Mary’s prayers for us are so powerful that the Memorare states, “Never was it known that anyone who [asked for her help] was left unaided.”


Mary will comfort and guide us through any cross we’re called to bear. #catholicmom

Copyright 2020 Lindsey Mitzel
Image copyright 2020 Lindsey Mitzel. All rights reserved.