Tools for Mentoring

How I Broke My Neck and Lived On

Tragedies can turn a normal day into a pivot point for all of the rest. March 14, 1987 was a normal day, and I went to the grocery store. As I left the parking area, I was hit by a speeding car driven by a young man having a very good time. The impact knocked me unconscious and broke my neck. The firemen spent an hour using the Jaws of Life to get me out of the car.

I woke up on the ground with many worried faces looking down on me. I couldn't move and I struggled for breath. Something was very wrong. At the same time, great peace came over me like a comforting blanket. I wondered how those two feelings could happen simultaneously: peace, when something was wrong.  It was the first of many interventions by God during the next few months and years.

During the first few hours in the hospital, the doctors and nurses worked soberly. I knew it was bad; I had lost a friend to a broken neck shortly before. Dick, my husband, leaned over me and, tight-lipped and pale, said, "The doctor gives you a 50-50 chance of living."

I didn't want to die. I had two small children to raise and a marriage to accomplish. I began to look back over how I had invested the time given me so far. It was as if I were standing in my house, hand on the doorknob of my front door, looking back to see if all was in order before I locked the door and left for a very long trip.
I was pleased and comforted with some investments. I had been grateful to my mother and told her I loved her. Dick and I had done what was necessary to get our marriage on stable ground again. I had made career changes in order to spend time with the children. I knew that parents have only a short time to invest in them while they are young. No one knows how little time some may have. There was no one I had not forgiven and no one to whom I still needed to make things right. The relief was enormous.

Then, there were the regrets—wrongs against God and people. I was pressing against that thin membrane between this life and what would happen to me beyond. I knew better than to carry in a bundle of good deeds hoping they would outweigh the bad. What a futile concept. 

Long before this day I had asked Jesus to forgive each act I regretted; He said his death paid for them. That thought left me feeling a little vulnerable. I would be entering His presence with only that as my ticket to heaven. Was it enough? Was it true? I leaned back on the homework I had done. The people that lived with Jesus wrote down His words when He said that His death was enough payment and that He forgave me when I asked. I believed what He said was true. So, I let it rest.
I lived on, however, with hands and legs paralyzed. I'm accomplishing my marriage and have raised our children. I understand how swiftly life can be taken, or dramatically changed. So, I keep my accounts short with God and other people. I ask for forgiveness, and I forgive. And I tell those that mean something to me that they do. Tomorrow may not be mine.



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