On April 27th, 2016, I was hit by a distracted driver while riding my bicycle in Nashville, TN. 9 witnesses testify that it was no fault of my own. I woke up with no leg function. I had no idea how much of a life-altering accident this would be. Am I a victim?
option 1: I am a victim.
It's been the hardest year and a half of my life. To be honest, every day I worry that I'll pee in my pants. It could happen any time. I wear diapers to sleep. I still can't poop without using a glove. It's embarrassing. I'm a virgin and will never experience intimacy normally. I get weird looks from people sometimes when I walk into a room. I can't bend my knees while walking without falling straight to the ground. And walking with straight legs puts a lot of wear on my knee joints, so I wear knee braces to minimize the long-term damage I am doing. My feet get swollen and purple when I stand for more than 5 minutes. I can't sit for more than 10 minutes without my back hurting. I used to wakeboard, mountain bike, run a 4:44 mile, climb. Things I can't do the same way anymore. These things were taken from me at no fault of my own. I am a victim.
option 2: I am not a victim.
I have an incredible family. I'm engaged to the most beautiful girl I've ever seen. I've met and played music with some of my heroes in the past year. I've played to a full house at the Bijou Theatre. I've gone from no leg movement to being able to walk almost anywhere on forearm crutches. I've completed audio engineering school at Blackbird Academy. I've recorded 20+ songs in the past year. I'm independent. I'm alive. I'm breathing. I still have my brain. I still have my arms. My hands. I have purpose. I am not a victim.
So am I a victim?
Every day I wake up with a choice. I can let the things that happen to me define me, or I can define my life despite my circumstances. I sometimes find myself choosing to be a victim. It never helps. Yes, I can justify it. Yes, it's hard. But guess how far it's gotten me. NOWHERE.
I don't think I would have progressed as much as I have, done the Bijou show, or be engaged, had I chosen to be a victim. I wouldn't be happy. I wouldn't have purpose. I wouldn't have joy. I don't even like thinking about where I would be as a victim. I wouldn't have the platform I've gained, because no one wants to listen to someone complain about their lives. I AM NOT A VICTIM.
We live in an age of victims
I don't know your story. Your struggles. Your journey is your own. I can't tell you how to deal with whatever you're going through. I have only experienced one kind of struggle. But I do know that mindset has been key for me. Please, please don't be a victim of your circumstances. Please fight the fight. I can guarantee that you will find joy. You will find purpose. Others will be encouraged, because the fight is contagious. You'll find that you can do more than you realized. You'll find you are the only thing holding yourself back from joy.
I may never fully heal. In fact, I've never heard of someone fully healing from a spinal cord injury. But I've embraced the life I have. And if I focus on the right things, it's an incredible life. No comparing. No complaining. Just thankfulness for the good. I've never experienced such highs and lows in my life. And I think they generally come hand in hand. The lows that I've experienced have made the highs that much higher.
What if everyone decided to take ownership of how they respond to their oppression/trials? What would the world look like if people pushed harder when the going got tough?
My Brave Desire
I wrote this song a while ago about a desire I had to be brave. I love playing it now, because I've been forced be brave since the moment my back was broken. It represents how I am facing my trial. You may find yourself in the same place. I hope it encourages you.
I AM NOT A VICTIM. Are you?
Comment below with your thoughts.