Four years later: Thank you

I stared at the ceiling through groggy eyes in the ICU. I sensed someone had just arrived, but thanks to the neck brace stabilizing my head, I could not even look up to see who it was. After a brief pause, I heard someone say, “Superman…” I broke into a smile, immediately recognizing the voice of a close friend who had a knack for Denzel Washington impersonations from “Remember the Titans”. While he would hilariously recite various other lines from the movie in the apartment we shared at the University of Cincinnati the year prior, we never could have imagined replaying this dramatic scene from the same movie in real life:

Today marks four years since the day my life flipped upside down along with my car on November 20, 2009. Sometimes it feels as if it was just yesterday I was waking up in my fraternity house bedroom. Sometimes the four years seems like an eternity. Regardless of how it feels in a given year, the date does not merely suggest, but actually demands some type of reflection.

“Superman” being uttered in the walls of the intensive care unit was only a slight glimpse into the immense support that I would receive in the coming days. In addition to my incredible parents graciously taking in a new roommate after they probably thought they had gotten rid of me after high school, friends have demonstrated various selfless acts since day one; from sleeping in my hospital room, to driving me from place to place, to taking time off school or work to help out with my day-to-day needs. Family friends have stuck by our side bringing meals and helping out financially at opportune times. Medical professionals of all sorts have taken a genuine interest in providing quality care. A vibrant community has surrounded me since day one from the church of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy and The University of Cincinnati.

These examples just scratch the surface of those going above and beyond the call of duty. Philippians 4:19 tells me, “God will supply every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” I have never experienced this more blatantly than I have since my accident. Without the people God has provided along the way, navigating this journey over the past four years would not have been possible.

Prayer candles  from community lining my front lawn
Prayer candles from community lining my front lawn

With that being said, I don’t quite think I’ve said thank you enough. This may result from being forced to be on the receiving end of the goodness of others time and time again, which often makes me feel as if I need to ashamedly put my head down as I figuratively accept the gift. I believe it is human nature to feel as if an exchange needs to take place. You scratch my back, I surely need to scratch yours. A friend was interacting with the homeless and said one of the major dynamics noticed was the propensity of those receiving food to stare at the ground and sheepishly take the food, visibly ashamed or uncomfortable that they are in need of reliance on others. That describes exactly how I feel at times.

To receive has been a challenge as a 25-year-old guy wanting to hide behind the façade of pretending I don’t need anything and I can do it all on my own. Without being able to return the favor often times leaves one feeling unworthy of receiving. It’s interesting how this mirrors how I feel when it comes to Jesus and the sacrifice He made. So many times I feel as if I need to try harder, do more, and be good enough in order to be worthy to receive from Him. Thankfully I know that forgiveness is a free gift and when He hung on the cross and exclaimed, “It is finished!” He actually meant it. In the same way, there are no strings attached or debt to be paid for the help that I’ve received from many over the past four years. For that, I am incredibly grateful.

Four years later, I’m thankful for each of you that God has placed my life. Some for a short season, some still today. I’m thankful for every prayer, email, card, note, meal brought (and fed), ride given, leg stretched, and a laundry list of other blessings along the way. I hope one day I get the same opportunity to emulate what so many of you have demonstrated to me. I could not have done this without you.

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