Do you ever stop to think about how insignificant a single person really is? I try not to dwell on it, but occasionally it hits me…I am just one of the 7.4 billion people who currently live on the earth. When I think of it like that, I feel pretty small. It makes me wonder: Is an individual life as insignificant as it seems? Can a single person really have an impact on the world around them? Is there a way to fulfill the innate desire that humans seem to possess to somehow make a difference in the world?
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to speak at an occupational therapy school. My daughters came with me as my support system and to cheer me on from the back of the classroom. I was asked to share the story of my 2014 accident and the details of my recovery thus far. It was a great experience! I wasn’t sure how I would be received, but the students seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. I focused on the medical and physical part of my recovery, sharing with them the miracles of modern medicine and the power of their chosen profession in helping people heal. I was given about 50 minutes to talk, and although that was plenty of time for this particular presentation, I am pretty sure I could speak for hours about my experiences during the past few years.
As we walked away from the campus that day, my daughters and I began discussing all of the areas in which our family has been challenged in recent years. The list is quite long. More importantly, however, we discussed the lessons we have learned and the blessings we have been given as a result of the trials we have endured. They seem to be endless! There have been many ‘aha’ moments, when one of us suddenly understood something that we needed to know. Those epiphanies have often brought clarity and peace to seemingly senseless situations. There have also been lessons that have come slowly, through weeks and months…and even years…of suffering. This type of schooling continues today, and will probably never end. Our lives have been forever changed by the adversity we have endured and the discipline required to come through those experiences refined, rather than ravaged.
For most of my life, I have felt like it is my duty in life to help and lift others in their trials. I have never known how to accomplish that, however. I am not a gifted surgeon who can repair the body and give back life to the severely injured patient. I am not an ecclesiastical leader, helping parishioners find God. I am not a wealthy philanthropist who can donate to a worthy cause or bring hope to the impoverished. I am not a professor or a scientist or a philosopher ready to change the world with my latest discovery. And I don’t have any fancy degrees, specialized certifications or important accomplishments that would make people want to respect my opinions. In reality, I am a nobody, just one of 7,295,889,256 people on the planet.
But as that one person, I do have unique experiences and unique ways of dealing with the challenges in my life. Perhaps it is simply through sharing myself and my stories that I can make a difference. I can speak of healing physically from major injuries and illness. I can speak of the patience, perseverance and determination required to relearn basic everyday tasks, as well as the hobbies and activities that have always brought joy to my life. I can speak as the Mormon mother of a gay son, fighting to keep my family close while adjusting to the challenges of different beliefs and lifestyles. I can speak of the darkness and despair caused by depression, and my own journey out of that black hole. I can speak as a victim of abuse who has learned to love and forgive through the gift of Christ and His atoning sacrifice. My life has been full of lessons and opportunities for growth, and while I have not always done things gracefully, I have made it through the challenges and I am a better person for it.
I am currently working on a book that I hope to publish someday soon. It is entitled, “OUT OF THE WOODS: Lessons Learned Through Adversity.” It is a collection of lessons learned and blessings received in the past two years. During the time since my accident, my outlook on life has changed significantly, and I want to share the things I have learned with the world.
I believe each one of us has a purpose greater than ourselves. Every one of us is here for a reason. Our lives are significant. It is up to us to figure out what our purpose is and how we can make a difference within our own sphere of influence. I think I have finally found my purpose and I look forward to future invitations and opportunities to share my stories through published writings, live presentations, and intimate conversations with others. My reach may seem insignificant when compared to the vast population of the earth, but if I can make a difference in just one life, then I will have made a difference in the world.