By Yvonne Chamberlain
On December 20, 1998, my life changed forever. On that icy winter morning, I lost control of my car, crossed the median of the highway, and crashed into a vehicle in the southbound lane of traffic. The details of the accident and my recovery aren’t what I want to talk about today, but feel free to ask me about it sometime. What’s more important to convey is, I not only survived, but also I was transformed: physically, mentally, and spiritually. The spiritual changes are what I want to address in this article.
I knew early on, my surviving the accident was a miracle. Naturally, I was very thankful. I was appreciative of my guardian angels, who I know intervened on my behalf. I was grateful to the doctors and first responders, who used their spiritual gifts to mend my body. Mostly, I thanked God for his mercy that day, first for sparing my life and later for saving my arm; those blessings allowed me to fulfill a dream of working in fashion. Despite feelings of gratitude, I also experienced tremendous guilt. I felt liable for the injuries I caused others in the accident. I felt responsible for dredging up the painful memories for my family of losing my sister, who died 20 years before in a car accident not far from where mine occurred. I even felt ashamed for not taking advantage of opportunities life had offered me because I felt invincible — like I had plenty of time to experience those things later. At times, guilt consumed me, which led me to seek professional help, so I could cope.
In counseling, I was reintroduced to the Serenity Prayer; I first learned it as an adolescent, in Family Change group. I began reciting it regularly. Through recitation of the prayer and discussion with others, I came to realize I received a second chance at life for a reason. I did not know what that reason was, nor may I ever fully comprehend it, but that’s okay. What I believe is, God’s purpose in my life wasn’t complete. So, He granted me more time to see it come to pass. The Serenity Prayer helped me to become comfortable with the unknown. Also, it made me realize I only need to be concerned about things within my locus of control. You see, I cannot change what happened that day, nor how my accident affected others. However, I can be grateful for my time with my loved ones and for the support of strangers and friends, and I can respond to God’s call, by taking advantage of doors He opens to me.
Often, we become self-absorbed, seeking only to fulfill personal desires and ambitions but tune out God’s call in our lives. Yet, when we respond to His requests, we can achieve more than our heart’s desire, things far beyond our wildest dreams. We simply have to trust in God; follow His voice. We mustn’t delay being obedient to Him. As Mark warns, “be on alert — for you do not know when the master of the house is coming” (Mark 13:35). When we face God, and He asks ‘what have you done with the life I’ve given you?’ we should be prepared to say ‘Lord I have loved you first and foremost; I have answered your call and loved my fellow man as you have loved me.’ We should then be able to support those words with actions from our daily lives; this will demonstrate to Him that our lives were not wasted vainly.
One of my favorite songs, Pushing Up Daisies, sums this up best. In the lyrics, Garth Brooks describes the little “dash” on our headstone as more important than the dates on either side of it. Our dash may represent seconds, minutes, hours, days, or years, but no matter its length we have the potential to do great things with what God has given us. It’s up to us to choose greatness.