This past Saturday I experienced what every cyclist fears — getting hit by a car. I entered into an intersection with right of way when a driver made a left turn into me. The impact of the collision sent me head over heels over my handlebars and I landed squarely on my butt on the cold, wet pavement. Thankfully, I wasn’t more seriously hurt; though there were a few minutes where the pain in my back and left knee — where I hit he car — had me concerned. After a trip to the hospital in an ambulance (no siren) the damages were an abrasion on my knee, a very sore back, a broken wrist, and a totaled bicycle.
I was fortunate. It could have been worse. I am grateful that it wasn’t more serious.
As I was lying on the couch recuperating, I began to absorb the stories of families who were certainly experiencing a more significant, painful tragedy than me. It caused me to reflect on the speed at which our lives can change.
Whether it is an accident, a death, or a huge public tragedy our lives can be changed in an instant. Even though it only takes an instant to completely disrupt our life, it takes time to grieve, heal and recover from the event. Nothing really prepares us for the shock of life’s disruptive, painful events. They happen in an instant.
As I listened to the father of shooting victim Emily Parker, I was inspired by what he said as he shared his story. He bravely offered a very important insight for all of us while he was coping with his own horrific adversity. He asked that the tragedy…
“not turn into something that defines us, but something that inspires us to be better, to be more compassionate and more humble people.”
This is a simple, concise message to us as citizens sharing the pain of an awful, horrific tragedy; but, it is also an inspirational message to each of us as members of the human race surrounded by people working through their abrupt, painful personal experiences.
Tragedy strikes quickly and the experience of that pain lives on forever. It is not the event that defines us — it is how we live, learn, and respond to it that does. There are people around us every day living in pain, dealing with their private hurts and facing their own personal struggles. Because we know what it is like to hurt, suffer, and struggle we need to remind ourselves how much we appreciated the love and humility others offered us in our time of pain.
The gift of love is the best gift we can offer those around us. There is no room for pride, judgement or criticism in our world today. It only takes a moment for something to unalterably change someone’s life. Learning to adapt, adjust, cope and move forward is much less difficult when we are surrounded by the love and support of others.
In this holiday season, I am encouraging you to challenge yourself to “be better, to be more compassionate and more humble.” If you want to honor the memory of those lost this past week — be inspired to honor the request of a suffering parent made in one of their darkest moments. This is the greatest gift you can offer this father, your world and yourself.