Michelle and I finally had some time to just sit and veg out together over the weekend. This has occasionally led to at least the partial viewing of a Lifetime Original Movie. You know, where Meredith Baxter-Birney or Alyssa Milano get beat with a stick by Brian Dennehy. Not them for real. That would be ridiculous. Their characters. On Lifetime. I digress.
This time we ended up watching an episode of I Survived. Three people told their stories of survival.
- The man who went to a remote location with an acquaintance only to be shot in the stomach and then literally hunted for over an hour in the middle of the night. He has violent nightmares to this day.
- The hiker who survived for eleven days in the mountain wilderness of New Zealand after falling over thirty feet and breaking his wrist and ankle and sustaining a deep gash in his thigh. Oh, and he had to hike for two days and swim a freezing river before reaching safety. With his dog.
- The fourteen year old girl who arrived home from school to find her slightly older sister murdered, be held hostage and survive being sexually assaulted by the killer only to be left for dead after he stabs her and slashes her throat.
These stories took me back to an article I read: “My own dad tried to kill me.” Faith, friends help in survival. The article is incredibly powerful and well worth the few moments to read it. Every time I read it I find something different that hits me in a powerful way. The short version is: When Chris was five years old his dad suffocated his mother, shot and killed his eight year old brother, shot and killed Chris (according to the medics to first arrive on the scene), and then turned the gun fatally on himself. Chris was found to be alive as he crawled toward a door during the investigation…after being pronounced dead. He.was.five.
I also was recently in a conversation with several acquaintances. During the conversation it came out that one of the women had grown up in the section of western Africa where the diamond wars raged from 1990 through 2005. She was nine when the wars started. Someone asked her, just to make some sort of mental connection, if it was like the movie Blood Diamond. Her response was powerful. Her guarded smile never faded as she told us: “Yes. That movie, the awful things, I know they are true. All of them and more. I grew up in war.” I see this woman all the time. I had no idea. None of us did. She seems happy…
Watching all the stories of survival; reading the details of Chris’s survival; learning more about what an acquaintance has survived… You just never know. You never know what’s going to happen. Maybe more to the point, you never know what people are carrying around with them. In Chris’s story he carried that around until he finally confided in some youth leaders. I have a lot of friends who work with youth. What an incredible amount of trust it took for him to tell that story. What an incredible responsibility youth leaders carry around with them. I’m sure all these other people had to tell their story to someone sometime too.
These are intense stories. They are deep and dark and sad and horrific. They are true. They are powerful. It’s interesting too that almost all of them referenced God; mainly in the sense that they believed God saved them for some reason. Some knew the reason. Some did not. The fourteen year old girl even noted that her sister was the one with all the plans. She herself had no idea what to do. She knew God had saved her for a purpose; for a reason…now she just had to figure out what that was.
Comparison is a dangerous thing. Most of us have never survived something like these stories. At the same time, we all have a story of survival. We’ve all come from the past, we live in the present, and we continue to walk toward the future. I learned a lot by hearing these stories. I really can’t stop turning them over in my head…
I add up all these stories and I just keep wondering:
How would the world change if everyone told their story of survival?
What can we all learn from incredible stories of incredibly saved people?