Wake Up Call

On December 12th, 2013 I almost died.

I was driving myself, my little brother, and three of my dear friends to a scripture study class held on weekdays at 6:00 A.M. at our church. The night before, I had slept for only about six hours. I had driven on less before, but that morning I was exceptionally tired.  I fell asleep for a few seconds while eating breakfast.  I struggled to put my coat on because I was too groggy to remember exactly how to do it.  After I started my drive that morning, I was consistently fighting to keep my eyes open. I pushed on. I didn’t need any help, I could do it. Just like every other morning. Right? After we picked up our last passenger, I turned onto the next street to head back towards the main road. I hardly remember the next turn.

Then I fell asleep.  The next thing I knew, we hit something wooden.  I heard a loud crack and saw a bright flash.  I was too drowsy to even realize what was happening.  The road had seemed to disappear and all I saw was a whirlwind of grass and debris. I pressed hard on the first pedal below my foot and made a hard left.  I felt another glancing blow and saw more splitting wood, and then I finally got the car back onto the road.  Only then did I realize that I had been pressing on the gas and moved my foot to the brake.  We came to a stop near the end of the street.  I was in complete disbelief.  My passengers and I got out of my dad’s pickup truck to see the front right corner bent completely in with the axle bent and the engine exposed.  As we looked down the road I was terrified to see a downed telephone pole rising out of the darkness about a hundred yards back.  After my initial disbelief, I turned to anger.  Why hadn’t my passengers woken me?! How could they all be asleep at the same time?! Discovering they had all been able to get out without a scratch, I was ashamed.  We had all just survived an insane car accident, I had no reason to be angry.

I had every reason to be grateful. As the police and fire department arrived, I reflected on what had happened. More details emerged in the next hour and in the days that followed. We found that every single factor in the accident worked out perfectly to allow us to survive. First of all we had no injuries. I think one of my passengers had a couple bruises. There happened to be no cars passing by for me to hit, which was good because apparently I had swerved into the other lane before moving back and then off the road. We were in a Ford F-150 that absorbed most of the impacts. We hit a telephone pole (that luckily only knocked out power to a couple houses but caused lights to flicker in all the surrounding neighborhoods), some hay bales, a tree, and a mailbox.  The telephone pole crushed our front axle, slowing us and redirecting us further towards the road. It turns out that my accidental choice to accelerate was a good one because that prevented us from getting tangled in the wires.  The hay bales then slowed us down and softened the blow when we hit the tree. Our truck then ricocheted off the tree, through the mailbox, and back onto the road. And had we not hit all of those in that exact way, we would have kept going into a concrete foundation that could have killed us all.  If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.

Even more happened in the coming weeks to confirm that the Lord was truly on our side that morning. When I was making my report to the police officers that arrived, they were skeptical as to what a bunch of teenagers were doing at six in the morning. But, in the end it seems they believed us, because all I received was a ticket for a lane violation. Again, I was amazed as we retrieved our belongings from the totaled truck; I have no idea how we walked away. For example, if my short little brother had been a few inches taller, the bottom of the car would have snapped his legs as it buckled in. In addition  to all of these miracles, I received a ton of support from friends, family, and members of my congregation.

So far, I’ve been listing things that happened. Whether or not they’re miracles is up to you. Perhaps this was all meaningless to you because you’ve been through much worse. What I really want to share are the lessons that this experience taught me. Besides the practical things like having people talk to me while I drive, I learned a number of spiritual lessons.

The most important one is that God loves me. He loves every single person on this Earth. I’ve learned this lesson many times before, but the fact that we all survived the crash and that so many people came to our aid is a reminder of that. Even if we hadn’t, I know this because the Lord has given me so many other blessings. Sometimes, in the midst of anger or sadness (right after a crash, for example) it can be easy to get lost in our trials. This crash has cost me a lot, but there is a positive side. By focusing on that, I recognize that God has provided a way for me to overcome this trial.

Another lesson I learned is to never ignore promptings from the Holy Ghost. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that our Heavenly Father talks to us personally through a messenger, comforter, and teacher.  This Holy Communicator is a spirit personage known as the Holy Ghost.  At some point during my drive, I had the idea to ask my passengers to talk to me. I ignored this prompting, and it cost me.  The Holy Ghost gives everyone these messages when they need it most. Whether as a thought, emotion, or even a voice, we all have some degree of these experiences to show us truth and to protect us.

A final lesson was that I don’t have to tackle this life alone. With college planning, school, work, church, and my personal life, I had a lot on my plate. Perhaps that’s why I was so tired that morning. And just like I thought that I could drive without the help of others, I believed I could deal with all of my struggles alone. Boy, was I wrong. My “heroics” were hurting me.  While it is wrong to thrust all our problems on others, I now realize that it’s important for us to ask others for help when we really need it, and above all, to turn to the Lord in prayer for help with ANY problem.

In the end, this experience was a wake up call for me. I was reminded that I need to focus on the important things, and that I need to not waste any time.  I walked around for the next few days feeling grateful to be alive and focusing a lot more on helping others. I miss that feeling and strive to recreate it every day. Above all, it reminded me that I don’t have to go through life alone.  None of us do.

One Response to “Wake Up Call”

  1. I totally agree! The Lord loves us and is always there for us