What a Near-Collision Taught Me About Life

Read what this author learned about life from a near death experience.

The last thing I remember before closing my eyes was being face-to-face with a semi truck.

Despite it being a clear day, I found myself fishtailing after changing lanes, and spun across three lanes of highway traffic. I honestly don’t know how I ended up alive and facing the right way on the highway or how I didn’t hit the guardrail or any other car for that matter. I just know that I should have gotten obliterated by that truck. 

Life has a way of putting experiences in your path that make you think and can change you or your outlook. This can be for better or worse. My hope is that even in the bad situations, you choose to look at experiences as ways to learn and bring meaning to life. When one has a near death experience, there are many lessons that we can learn. Lessons about our calling in life or perhaps the need for a change in our life situation. Here were my takeaways in those moments after my near-collision.

1. We can’t control everything. 

This was a wake up call for me. I have the tendency to try to control a lot of things in my life and to keep myself busy. However, this experience demonstrated that no matter how meticulously I plan my schedule or keep to a fitness routine, there are still so many things that are out of my control. This does not mean that one should fret or feel the need to despair. I feel this is actually an opportunity to place trust in the Lord for all of our life situations.

In the book, Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe, he writes “We are not always the masters of the unfolding of our lives but we can always be the masters of the meaning we give to them.” This is a powerful statement as even though we do not control our lives, we control how we respond or don’t respond. We control what attitude we have towards what life gives us. 

2. Surround yourself with people who love you. 

We are ultimately made to be in community with others. As author Jennie Allen shares in her book Find Your People: Building Deep Community in a Lonely World: “We’ve replaced intrusive, real conversations with small talk, and we’ve substituted soul-baring, deep, connected living with texts and a night out together every once in a while, because the superficial stuff seems more manageable and less risky. But let’s face it: whether we live lonely or deeply connected, life is messy. The magic of the best of relationships is the mess, the sitting-together-on-the-floors-of-bathrooms, hugging-and-sobbing mess.”

I think we need to find these types of relationships, those people who have your back but also will give you the honest truth even if it is hard. It is in these relationships that we are able to understand who we are and find a deeper-level connection. For me, I’ve found it in a group of women who encourage me to pursue my faith and trust in the Lord even when I don’t feel his presence. If we don’t have people who can speak truth to us, we can fall into patterns that may be unhealthy and bring us further from our true selves.  

3. Your life is a gift. 

The only time you’re guaranteed is this exact moment. Each breath, each step, each sound; everything is given freely to you. Being so close to crashing made this very clear. What you do with this gift is entirely up to you. You have the choice — which is a beautiful thing. God created us to have free will so we can choose (or not to choose) to participate in his will for our lives. How are you going to give that gift back to God? 

4. You are not going to get it right 100% of the time

Since my near-accident, have I transformed into a saint? I wish I could say yes, but the honest answer is no. I continue to struggle with determining God’s will in my life and following that plan wholeheartedly. There is a humility in understanding that I do not have all the answers and that it is okay. There are going to be days where you are on top of the mountain and others where you feel lost. No matter where you are, I encourage you to think about where your faculties lie. What are you placing your trust in? We are only human and we make mistakes — whether or not we want to admit it. 

Life is a series of experiences and lessons and growth. Take some time today to look at the life you have been given. See the wonder of the world around you and allow your life to reflect the one who made you.

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