Twenty-six years ago, I was hit by a car while walking to class in college. My life changed on October 6, 1995. I had a social dance test, so I had taken extra time fixing my hair and was wearing a great dress to dance across the floor. It was cold, and the temperature had dipped below freezing. Cars had a layer of frost on the windows.
I was a bit late and eating my breakfast while crossing the busy street. I had walked to the turning lane and was waiting for a few cars to pass before continuing across the road when BAM! I was hit by a student who was also running late. He had received a ticket for parking in the student parking lot without a permit and was hurrying to move his car. In his rush, he had only scraped a three-inch hole in the frost to drive his vehicle. He didn’t even know he had hit me until his windshield caved in on him.
As I flew through the air and then rolled on the pavement, I was praying, “God, please help me” over and over. I was so worried I would be run over again. The paramedics arrived and assessed my needs before taking me to the ER.
Thankfully, my injuries were relatively minor. Along with scapes and bruises, my most severe injury was my left knee. My medial collateral ligament (MCL) was disconnected below my knee with a small chunk of bone. It didn’t require surgery, but I was on crutches for three months while the bone healed and reattached my MCL. Being on crutches on a big campus is NOT easy! When I could finally ditch the crutches, I needed physical therapy to rebuild my atrophied leg. Following months of physical therapy, my body healed with no lasting affects.
Interestingly enough, just six days before the accident, I was prepared with the exact conference talk I needed. Alone in my apartment during the Saturday morning session of General Conference, I decided to re-pot a plant that was outgrowing its existing pot. I was listening and quietly working until Elder Richard G. Scott began. I didn’t know why at the time, but I just completely stopped and focussed on his talk Trust in the Lord. His words about trials of life touched me deeply.
“Trials, disappointments, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources… When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He, therefore, gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit.” Richard G. Scott
I was living an obedient life, so I knew this was an experience that would polish and refine me. When we are going through life changes, sometimes the differences are sudden and noticeable. Other times, we don’t see the gradual changes while living through the trial. As the years have passed, I’ve reflected on how life changed and how I changed following the accident.
1. Slow Down
I was on crutches following the accident, so I had to drop my social dance class and another PE class. Dropping some classes slowed down my academic progress toward graduation. I was frustrated and mad that my graduation plan was delayed!
I also was physically slowed down. I lived on the third floor of an apartment complex without any elevators. Going up and down stairs on crutches is scary! I found the best way was to hop up the stairwells using the railings while my crutches hung on my arms- and wearing a backpack no less! What a slow process! It was also slow and tiring getting across campus on crutches. The first few days were incredibly exhausting, and I enjoyed a good nap on several occasions!
I like to do things quickly and stick to a plan. It was good for me to learn to slow down, be flexible, and enjoy life instead of racing to the next destination or longing for the next phase of life.
2. Rely on Others
When you are 19 years old, living away from your parents, and confident in your abilities, you don’t think you need others. Oh, how life changed! The first few days, I had to have a roommate help me get dressed! Several of the young men in the apartment complex helped carry me up and down the stairs on my worst days. Across campus, strangers held open doors for me. Many others gave me rides, picked up groceries, and other kinds of service that were difficult for me. I was so thankful for these small and kind gestures. Years later, I came across this quote and loved it!
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.African Proverb
I’m so grateful for the friends and roommates who helped me beyond measure through that challenging time. It’s okay to rely on others when you need some help!
3. More Humble
While I had healthy self-esteem, I was not an arrogant person even before the accident. The type of pride I struggle with is relying on my own abilities and not leaning on, listening to, and depending on Heavenly Father. This experience taught me to increase my faith and trust in the Lord. Again, I learned from Elder Scott, “To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it.”
4. Improved Relationships
When someone is serving you, you love them even more! The additional time I had with my roommates and the service they provided to me strengthened those relationships. I’m still close to many of the friends who served me during that time.
Good relationships are vital in life. There are many health and other benefits that reflect the quality of relationships in our life. Relationships are one of the few things we get to take with us after this life. I’m grateful my life changed in ways to allow me to spend more time with those I care about and strengthen those relationships. The lessons I learned about relationships have helped me throughout my life.
5. Gratitude for my Body
It’s easy to take our bodies for granted. When they are working fine, we notice perceived flaws and needed corrections. However, when we have health struggles or other physical infirmities, we just wish we could be like we were before.
It’s incredible to me that the body can heal itself with time and proper care. As I’ve considered the miracle of the human body, I’ve had a recurring thought. Perhaps when we get to the other side, we won’t be so concerned about how thick or thin or short or tall we are on earth. Maybe we will be so grateful and amazed at our body that we will love it just the way it is!
Of course, we should take care of our bodies, but from a place of love and care, not a place of shame or embarrassment. During this trial, I came to appreciate my body and the gift of movement (especially dancing!).
6. Softened Personality
I know there were other minor changes and improvements in my life during this challenge. It’s hard to know exactly how to describe or label them. Overall, I became gentler, kinder, more aware of others, and more flexible in my thinking. The experience was described perfectly by Elder Scott.
He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit.Richard G. Scott
I’m so grateful that I learned so much and that my injury was minor and temporary. I greatly admire those that experience more dramatic and irreversible challenges with a humble heart.
The day my life changed, I had no idea what would take place in my heart. I’m grateful for Elder Scott’s conference talk to guide me on a path of greater humility, increased faith, and trust in the Lord’s plan for me. I learned that even in trials we can feel peace and feel joy in the journey. The resulting effects made me a better person, friend, mother, and disciple of Christ.
Want to Read More Life Changed Moments?
- 5 Life-Defining Moments that Have Changed Me
- Peace and The Power of Stillness
- How Your Reluctance Might be a Barrier to Growth
- Why Practicing Progress May Be the Best Way to Change Your Life