November 24, 2015
I was one of the safest drivers I knew. Caution was my middle name. But it can happen to anybody.
It was exactly one month since I had turned 18, and I was traveling back roads. I had been down the road several times before, but not as the driver. The GPS was on, 91.9 was playing on the radio, but I was looking straight ahead. My mind was full, and the stop sign missed my field of vision. The passenger in my car started to yell, “that was a stop sign,” except they were unable to finish the sentence. I hit an F-250 truck, and spun across the street.
They said I was screaming. I remember spitting out glass. For weeks I felt like glass was in my mouth. Someone got me out of the car, but I remember no faces. I vaguely remember calling my mom, and it seemed like it took my parents forever to get to the intersection. I remember talking to the cops, but don’t remember what they looked like.
I rocked back and forth in front of my car, with its busted windshield and crushed hood. I repeated, “it’s all my fault,” over and over.
No one was hurt in the accident, and I refused to get checked out. If I was hurt, then I felt like I deserved it. I wasn’t wishing the wreck away, yet instead I wished I had been the only one involved. It took me a long time to realize why I thought that way.
I had no respect for my own life. It did not matter to me if I lived or died. I saw no point either way.
After the accident, things at school were strange. I gradually told people that I had been in an accident. People would question why I was driving my brother’s truck, so I told them. Pictures were shown next, and then I received the question: “How are you still alive?”
I had no idea, and the question kept me up at night.
I didn’t feel like I was alive that was for sure. At school, I felt like a ghost. It was as if I did die in the accident. I lost my best friend and felt isolated. I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I dreaded going to school because of how alone I was. I was angry and hurt. It way my senior year and everything seemed to be falling apart.
Not only was I angry with myself, but I was holding onto resentment for others as well. Deep down I knew that I could never forgive anyone else if I didn’t forgive myself first. All of it was holding me back, but it rooted back to the underlying problem of the apathy for my own life.
The question kept coming back to haunt me. Why was I still alive? I asked God everyday why he left me on this earth.
The answer came to me as I started to read my bible more. Jeremiah 29:11 popped into my head one day, so I turned to the page.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
I realized that I did not die because I do have a future, and that God is not done with me yet. I had no idea what I was going to do, but if I trusted in him, I would eventually find out if I started taking care of myself and growing closer to God.
Before I could do anything, one word held me prisoner: forgiveness. Matthew West has a song called “Forgiveness,” and when I was driving down the road one day, the song came on the radio. Tears sprung to my eyes and Jeremiah 29:11 entered my clouded thoughts once more.
In order to continue on my path, I had to forgive myself. Years before the accident, I blamed myself for multiple things. When I was at fault behind the wheel, more guilt piled on. I hated myself for it all, but that song made me see that I had to forgive myself so I could be set free. If I didn’t, then I would be stuck where I was and continuing to have no respect for my life.
Talking about the accident was not something I enjoyed, and I avoided it for a long time. Each time a car passes me on the road and comes too close for comfort, I will tense up and my knuckles turn white as I grip the steering wheel. When a car comes screeching to a halt at a stop sign or a red light, my chest tightens up and flashbacks of when I slammed into the truck force itself into my head. Each time is a reminder that I am still alive. Breath flows through my lungs, and blood pumps through my veins. It’s been over a year and a half since my accident, and I still cringe when I look at the pictures of the wreck.
God isn’t done with me yet. He kept telling me that I needed to talk about what happened, to talk about the accident. This post has been on my mind for almost a year, and I finally decided to listen to Him. I may not be certain of His plan, but studying the bible and writing has made the world of a difference.