November has been a challenging month for me in so many ways, and I found myself riding a roller coaster of emotions as I faced each obstacle. I can’t seem to make sense of anything, but I’m still choosing to live each day with gratitude and thankfulness because I'm alive and kicking, and this time with more fervor and conviction to make the best of each new day. I've always been a passionate person (in a good and also not so good way), and when I was flooded with emotions in unexpected circumstances, I allowed them to get the best of me. I've had a long list of random and unusual experiences that really revealed how ugly uncontrolled emotions can get. That all changed after my almost fatal accident exactly one year ago. I discovered that my passion only needs to serve one purpose, and my emotions no longer need to lead to unpredictable behaviors and responses.
For too many years, I often played the victim role all too well, and it became a continuous pattern over and over again. I found myself thinking "Poor me", "Why does this happen to me?", and "What did I ever do to deserve this?" When I was a little girl, I was the biggest tomboy who always played sports with the boys, and my dad would often have to tell me, "Sarah, girls are not supposed to do that!" Well, one day at church I was chasing after some boys because they took something that belonged to a friend. Not long after, I hear glass shattering, and I stood there completely dumbfounded as blood was dripping down my wrist. I had pushed open the door using the glass portion of it instead of using the door handle, which of course I should've used. It became one of those "Boohoo, look at me", "It wasn't my fault, it was theirs!" moment.
As I got a little older (and I wish I could say wiser), I finally grew out of my tomboy stage and became a girly-girl who cared too much about hair, make-up, and clothes. I had always wanted to become a teacher one day, and I was finally living out my dream. Because of my passionate nature, I found myself working overtime night after night, and one day I was locked in and left with 2 choices: climb the towering fence in my high heels or call my principal to get me out. I went with the latter. So when it was finally winter break, my body was screaming for rest. I didn't listen. Couple days later, I found myself waking up in a pool of blood and crawling over to my parents’ door for help. I had passed out in the kitchen as I was getting a drink of water, and I ended up busting my chin, lips, and two front teeth. I looked hideous, and this time I was crying, "I'm gonna look ugly forever!"
And I got a little more older and still not wiser. Some friends wanted to participate in a bike-a-thon, and I was eager to join. We had started out in downtown LA, rode all the way out to Venice Beach, and started to make our way back to downtown. One of my friends got a little too close to my bike, and our bikes tangled and we both went flying off our bikes. He had scraped his elbow, and I ended up with a busted knee. Again, it became one of those "It's his fault my knee looks the way it does!" Bitterness grew in my heart as my wound became a keloid scar, and I went in for multiple treatments. I didn't need to go in for those treatments, but I wanted the doctors to do something about my protruding scar that wasn't healing properly. These incidents were a reflection of a person that responded to unfortunate circumstances with negativity, and I was choosing to wallow in them. I was in a place of darkness, and it was getting darker and darker.
Being stuck and drowning in negativity was not a fun place to be, and I’m beyond thankful that God rescued me from that place. But I had to choose to take the first step forward, and He did all the rest thereafter. The initial act of obedience led to my process of healing, growing, and restoring, so when I was faced with the most challenging experience of my life, I was given the opportunity to respond differently from my past.
On November 24, 2014, my friend Esther and I were on our way back home from Salvation Mountain, and unexpectedly we were t-boned by a big rig going 63 mph. By God’s grace, neither one of us have memory of the actual accident, and we both woke up in the car feeling disoriented. I was covered in blood with a broken nose, broken clavicle, and punctured lung, and thankfully my friend did not suffer any open wounds or broken bones. The car was totaled, and I had to be airlifted to the nearest trauma center. However, these were minor adversities knowing the severity of what should’ve been, and we thank God every day because our worst day turned out to be the most blessed and redemptive day of our lives. We are both walking miracles to show how real our Heavenly Father is, and we’re choosing to live a life of gratitude no matter the circumstance.
Life on earth has new meaning and purpose for me, which is to celebrate every moment…big or small, good or bad…thanking God for the opportunities of growth, change, and restoration. I am learning how to find joy even in the most challenging circumstances. When I find myself go down a path filled with complaints, criticisms, and even complacency, I have to look deep within and redirect my heart to a place of gratitude and thankfulness. My passionate heart now only serves the Heavenly Father up above, and it is His love and grace that saves me, realigns me, and keeps me rooted.
From my heart to yours #5:
As November approaches year after year, most of us are reminded to reflect on the things we’re thankful for. However, I believe if we practiced the act of gratitude and declared words of thankfulness in all seasons, we can walk with an extra bounce in our step and the goodness we carry can overflow into those around us. What are some practical ways you can continually practice gratitude especially during those stormy nights or dry seasons? Maybe you can wake up each morning declaring “Thank you for a good day!” even before your day has started, or maybe you can turn to someone and simply thank them for being in your life, or maybe you can start a gratitude journal that keeps records of all the things you’re thankful for. I’m always looking for creative ways to practice gratitude to renew my mind and heart, and sharing my story with each of you is definitely one way I’m uncomfortably yet passionately walking that out. Thank you to all my friends, family, and blog readers for taking the time to hear my story and for encouraging me to keep sharing! Starting a blog surfaced a lot of fears I needed to overcome, and I’m thankful that in my weakness, I find strength in my Father up above.
I'm using this space to simply share the meaningful things that burn my heart and the random things that run through my mind. Simply desiring more vulnerability and authenticity in my life.