His body flew like a rag doll over the handlebars of his motorcycle and skidded across the asphalt pavement, abruptly stopping in the middle of a busy California intersection. In an instant, Jeremy McGhee’s body was terribly shattered. His ribs were broken, his legs were numb, and blood fell from his mouth. Later, Jeremy learned his spinal cord had been injured, resulting in paralysis of his legs. He would never walk again. A tidal wave of emotions crested and crashed as the days passed. But, in time, he realized the accident would be the catalyst to life change and that decisions he made in its wake would set the course of his life.
Our lives are often changed in an instant. For most folks, moving through the storm of an accident, an injury, a diagnosis, or a prolonged trauma feels impossible. We fight, we regret, we wish our lives would return to what was normal. Often, we refuse to accept pain because pain causes us to feel vulnerable, confused, and out of control. What was isn’t coming back. But what can be is up to us. Like Jeremy, we can accept that, while the hardship may alter our lives, what we choose to do about it changes our course completely. Our lives are set on a better course as we cultivate attitudes of acceptance and trust and as we acquire new skills for coping.
What has been your painful catalyst? What has forced you onto uncharted, rugged paths? Life as it was will never return. So, are your energies being spent on finding the old road? It is terribly difficult to accept, but the old road is gone, dear friend. Each choice to keep moving along the new road is yours to make; no one can walk it for you.
Jeremy knew nothing about living life in a wheelchair, and he quickly found there was no step-by-step plan to follow. If guidance was provided, the focus was often cast on finding the old road back to life as it was before his accident—a fruitless pursuit. Life would never return to what it was. Finding and learning new ways of living produced inspiration for Jeremy, and that is exactly what Jeremy continues to help others do.
His nonprofit organization, Fight2walk, focuses on mentoring people with spinal cord injuries. Jeremy raises funds to buy adapted sporting equipment like hand-controlled bicycles and adapted ski chairs. He is a seasonal ski instructor at Mammoth Mountain, California, teaching people how to use adapted equipment so they can learn to ski again. Jeremy says that he’s trained himself to pull through the bad days by thinking about the incredible people he’s met on his journey—people whose challenges far surpass his own. This helps Jeremy feel thankful for all he does have.
Jeremy’s story represents a foundational truth about life. Ultimately, the choices we make when life is hard change our lives, regardless of what type of trauma we encounter. God shapes each person uniquely for a purpose we cannot see in the dark. A light is cast by others who bring hope when ours is gone. You can become that light for others—a light that might be life changing, life inspiring, and life filling. I leave you with one simple reminder: there is purpose in today’s pain. Who knows what tomorrow holds?