I haven't really had a chance to get really serious or really personal on Owl Really, but today is the 10 year anniversary of a car crash that changed my life.
I was a sophomore in college and I was heading home to Louisville for my mom's birthday. I was living at Delta Zeta, sharing a room with my friend Bethany, and developing friendships that I know will last a lifetime. My sophomore year was fun and exciting and I was living it up. We went to frat parties, to themed informals, and to fraternity formals. I was having a blast but I definitely felt like I was missing something.
I grew up going to church with friends and when I was in the 8th grade, I was baptized. I believed and I loved Jesus but in high school, I got lazy and uninterested in attending church. I still believed, I was just pretty lukewarm about my faith, which continued into college.
I met amazing people in college and many fellow believers, but I was enjoying my freedom too much. I loved this new world of being in a sorority and parties and boys! I am thankful that my moral compass never let me do anything too wild & crazy - I was still a great kid, but I was definitely still just a kid trying to figure out life and what was important. Fortunately, I couldn't shake the decisions and the love and the faith I had all those years ago, and I didn't really want to. I just wanted to make it convenient for me.
It all changed March 1, 2002. On interstate 70, barreling toward Indianapolis, I was hit by a semi truck. He claimed that he had his turn signal on to enter the fast lane and changed his mind when he saw me there. We couldn't have collided if he never entered my lane, so I know he was lying.
Upon impact, I lost complete control of the car. I remember clenching my eyes shut and just praying, "Let me live, let me live, let me live." I somehow managed to stop in the grassy median (thank you Lord for that grassy median - if it had been a cement wall, I surely would have died). Scared that the car might explode (irrational, I know), I jumped out of the car and doubled over gasping "I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive!" I was definitely in shock.
Drivers all around me slammed on their brakes and came running over to me. A man had his cell phone out and asked who I wanted to call. I had him call my parents and as he was saying hello to them, they could hear me in the background shrieking "I'm bleeding!" I had reached up to my face and ears and found blood. Thankfully, my face and ears were only slightly scratched and it turned out that my only injury was a tiny scrap of glass in one ear.
A woman wrapped a white blanket around me and I was scared I would get blood on it. Strangers held tissues to my face and ears and I still can't forget their kindness - in a world where foreign blood can hold so much danger, I am thankful that they helped me.
The paramedics arrived and held my neck still until they loaded me into the ambulance. If you look at the first photo, you can see a paramedic in blue gloves holding my head while I talk on the phone. You can also see my tire marks in the grass that don't make sense at all. How could my tires have crossed over each other like that? I had no idea then and I have no idea now.
Once loaded into the ambulance, I assessed my situation. I told the EMT, "I think I'm going back to church." He smiled and said he thought that was a good idea.
My parents raced from Louisville to meet me at the hospital in Indianapolis. I am needle-phobic, so I wouldn't let them give me an IV or anything and I really did (miraculously) feel fine. I joked around with the nurses and doctors and some of my best friends came up from DZ to be in the hospital with me.
A few nurses stopped by my room because they had passed my car in the median on their way to work. They told each other somberly, "They airlifted that one." They couldn't believe my condition when they saw me- they thought for sure I would be in emergency surgery.
A male nurse came by my room and said, "God's got a plan for you, honey." He walked out of the room and came right back in and said, "No, He just loves you."
I felt so much love and safety and comfort in the midst of such chaos and panic. This accident is the reason that I identify so strongly with the hymn "Come Thou Fount."
Come, thou Fount of every blessing,I was literally in danger and I was rescued. If you saw the car, you would see a bubble of safety around the driver's seat - everything else was destroyed. If I had a passenger, they probably would have died.
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.
Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
I think about how grateful I was to be alive when I jumped out of the car. The first time I heard "You Alone" by the David Crowder*Band, I wept when we got to the bridge:
"I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive" were the exact words I gasped.
I'd like to say that I have been on the straight and narrow path ever since then, but I'm human. We haven't been going to church regularly because our congregation is temporarily meeting at a strange time and it's inconvenient. See, I really haven't changed that much in 10 years - but I know that my life is His and I am so thankful for mercy and grace and a second chance.
March 1 will forever be a marker of an event that changed my life and my heart.