I sat down with a childhood friend and talked about God, faith and her life-changing experience
The first time I met Christine was at primary school. We were in the same class for the first two years before she moved with her mom and stepdad. Eight years would pass before we again found ourself at the same school, this time at High School.
Despite the eight year long and heartbreaking distance at primary school, Christine Hansen has turned out to be one of my lifelong friends. A person that is warmhearted and compassionate towards other. Always optimistic and cheerful. Something that is reflected in her current job at a nursing home in the northern city Tromsø in Norway.
Presence, serenity and balance are words that describe her well.
But it hasn’t always been like that. Not according to herself.
At the autumn of 2007 Christine is moving to Trondheim with her boyfriend at the time. Their car is packed heavy with their moving loads. It’s during this fifteen hour drive they have an accident. The car runs off the road, which Christine describes as flying through the air. The trees whizzing around them as they’re heading straight towards a rock wall.
At this moment Christine has one clear thought: Now I’m going to die!
We’re sitting in Christine’s living room on a Sunday afternoon. Over a cup of coffee we’re discussing faith, belief, the ability to live in the present, the accident and the value of life itself.
“I remember one of our school trips back in High School,” I say. “We had a discussion about faith and God and angels. Looking back and hearing your story now, it seems like your take on life has gone through a change?”
“Yes, and it’s actually very interesting,” Christine answers. “Even though I can’t remember all the details from that conversation, I still remember we had it. I know that my view on life has gone through a massive change.”
The car had miraculously stopped that day. Christine sat in the passengers seat with not a single scratch and in total shock. She describes it as having an angel watch over her.
However, the time after this accident turned out to be difficult. She felt aware that there was someone who had looked after her, that there was a greater meaning behind it all — that she had survived the accident for a reason.
“I remember feeling like I was living on borrowed time in the months that followed. It became important for me to tell my friends and family that I loved them. It took a long time for me to get rid of this feeling, because the thought of dying was so clear to me that day. After a while I realised that I wasn’t going to die — I had survived.”
She completes her education in Trondheim and moves back north where she’s from. Here she works as a cosmetologist and it is during this time that her faith develops more specifically.
“After the accident I found that my belief in God only grew stronger. I had many experiences of the presence of God.”
“Like what experiences,” I ask her.
“The fact that I would pray and ask for help and would get it. It almost felt a little strange,” Christine answers. “There were also times when I was pissed and would put God to the test: You listen to me God, I expect answers! I would sometimes pray like that being very specific.”
“That same night I’m at the local pub when a stranger walks over and starts talking to me. He asks me if I like it here? Then he suggests that I could move if I wanted to and that I could find some other job. He’s standing there talking about how I might not feel like I fit in to this place. It was strange, because the threshold to quit my job and the apartment I was living in was very high. And all of a sudden this strangers comes and talks about how easy it could be,” Christine says.
She continues: “I had to ask him if he believed in God? To which he said no. It was very special, because he responded directly to all these things I had prayed for earlier that day.”
“You mentioned that you sometimes were pissed. Why?” I ask Christine.
“I didn’t really thrive at work or the place that I lived at,” she answers. “It was a frustrating and difficult time. I didn’t know what to do next.”
Praying specific prayers becomes somewhat of a pattern during this season of Christine’s life. She talks about several experiences where she would get specific answers.
“I’m don’t know the Bible that well, but I think it says something like God works through people?” Christine says. “That evening at the pub I felt the presence of God in the conversation.”
Christine clearly has a philosophy about life. It strikes me that every time I meet her she is calm, present, and does not rush into anything in life.
“I get irritated when people try to to put pressure on me that I need to hurry up with school, life or whatever. Or when they talk about how old they are. You’re exactly as old as you feel like and if you’re at good health then that’s the most important thing. We’re supposed to live a long life and not hurry through it, but to enjoy it,” she says.
“Sometimes I think back to the car accident,” Christine says. “Things could have been different. I could have laid in a cemetery right now, but I’m not. So I have nothing to stress out about. I can live life, enjoy it, go to a café with friends. In a weird way I’m actually glad the accident happened, even though it has given me some fear.”
At the end of our conversation, I ask her: “What is the value of life?”
She hesitates, thinks for a moment, before she quotes a song lyric from a Norwegian artist:
“There’s a son by Halvdan Siversten and it goes something like: We are allowed by life to live today. I think that is the value of life, simply to be allowed to live.”
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