Why 'Seatbelts Save Lives' Is An Understatement

Why 'Seatbelts Save Lives' Is An Understatement

You never think it will happen to you... until it does.
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When you are 15 years old you feel invincible. Most people are worrying about getting their license and the boy in history class and the petty fights with so-called "friends" that will not matter in six months. Your mom is worrying about you when you're out on your first real date, or why you won't answer your phone when she's called you twelve times.

However, this is not a story of a typical teenage girl. It begins with the day her brother lost his faith, the day her dad lost his chance to walk her down the aisle, the last day her mom heard her voice... This is about the day Whitney kept her life.

This is Whitney's story.


I recall it like it was yesterday. My seven-year-old self was watching "The Wiggles" and enjoying my cereal, when I heard my mother gasp for breath as tears collected in her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. My heart raced frantically as my mom told me something that changed my life forever, "Aunt Whitney's been in an accident."

I remember walking into the hospital room in Indianapolis as I saw all the machines attached to my aunt's body. I looked around the room to see my grandpa who looked defeated and my nana who seemed lost.

When they told me, "She was in the car with her friends. They were going too fast when the road turned to gravel. She flew out of the windshield 75 feet and is in an induced coma," I wondered what all this meant. How long will she be sleeping? Will she wake up soon and we can play? Nana used to make me jump on her bed to wake her for cheer practice, but she wouldn't want me to jump on the bed anymore; it wouldn't do anything — she wouldn't wake up.

Whitney spent her sweet 16 in a hospital bed. The day finally came when all my family said, "She's opened her eyes," and I was relieved. "Ah yes, she's finally better now," I thought to myself. She can talk and walk and jump on the trampoline with me like we used to. However, none of that happened. Whitney was diagnosed with locked-in syndrome. Since then, Whitney still is unable to walk or talk. However, when I asked if I could write this article for her, she gave a smile and extended her pinky finger to indicate "yes."

I remember everyone told me, "Pray that she will talk and walk again." So I prayed and prayed and prayed, and one day I woke up at 19 years old and realized my prayers hadn't been answered. There have been plenty of times that I was furious with God. "Why? Why did you do this to my Aunt Whitney?" I would scream and cry into an empty void where I didn't hear an answer. However, I would not wish this on anybody. When I asked God "Why my Aunt Whitney?" perhaps I was just asking why in a general sense. In the sense that no one should have to go through life like this. Every day I see her, I just want to tell her I'm proud of her. I want to tell her I am sorry — because this shouldn't have happened, not to her, not to anyone. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we will never know what that reason is, but that is supposed to be OK.

It is said that God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. I believe that God writes a narrative for us all. He chose Whitney for a purpose; he knew she was a tough soldier.

God knew he placed Whitney into a strong family. Whitney's dad does not always show it, but I know he is exhausted. I want him to know that I am sorry. No one should have to see their child go through what his does every day. I am so proud of him for working hard and being strong when I can only imagine how all he wants is to break down. Whitney's mom is the strongest woman I have ever had the liberty to know and I admire her immensely for it. God knew that Whitney's mom was a nurse, and he placed her to be with the right family. I want Whitney's mom, my grandma, to know that I am sorry. She should be able to hear Whitney's laugh fill the room like it used to. She should be able to scold her for making stupid decisions and then regretting it later and questioning her parenting ability. She should be able to hear Whitney's stories about her life and guide her in the right direction. I wish Whitney could come home over holiday breaks and exclaim the thrilling news that she's pregnant or engaged. I wish that Whitney could have a life of her own. I wish and I wish and I wish every day for things to go back to how they were before. I am so sorry that these are not the circumstances.

I am not going to ask my readers to pray for Whitney or our family. Whitney has gotten an abundance of prayers over the past decade, and I would not want to intrude on your beliefs. If Whitney could give advice to anyone though I am sure it would be this: Go on country cruises. Drive with the windows down with the wind in your hair as you belt out the words to your favorite song. Live life to the fullest. Don't take anything for granted, say please and thank you while you still can, and never forget to tell your mom and dad that you love them. Please, do not drink and drive. Do not text and drive. Do not be a reckless driver.

I always hear the phrase "Seatbelts save lives," which is true; but, seatbelts are so much more than that. One time is all it takes to change your life forever. Whitney did not wear her seatbelt, but, she is still here with us today. Strapping on her seatbelt that one time would have changed her quality of life. Wearing a seatbelt means much more than the difference between life or death.

Wear your seatbelt.

Not for me, not for Whitney, but for you.


Cover Image Credit: Mackenzie Rogers

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To Everyone Who Hasn't Had Sex Yet, Wait For Marriage, It's The Right Move

If you have not had sex yet, wait.

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Premarital sex is not a new concept, no matter how much people like to pretend it is. You can trace scripture and historical texts back thousands of year to see that lust and fornication have been a problem since… well, since we humans have been problems.

They tell you in sex ed that sex causes you to form a bond with someone. They throw some big chemical names at you that are apparently in your body and cause that emotional attachment to happen, then you move on (or back to) how important condoms are and why STDs are so scary.

As a middle schooler or teenager, you can't understand what it means to become permanently connected to someone as a result of a quick, physical act.

If you haven't even had your first kiss, you really can't imagine what it's like to develop such a complex and intimate connection with someone because you have yet to feel the butterflies in your stomach from a kiss. So you really don't know what it's like to have a whole different type of feeling in your stomach.

You never forget your first love. It's one of the most cliche things you consistently hear, but it's true. Ask anyone. I guarantee your parents can still spurt out their first love's name in a few seconds. And most people never forget their first time. I know all my friends can recount that often awkward and slightly terrifying moment as if it happened an hour ago. When you mix those two, especially if you are in your teens, oh boy.

You never forget that. No matter how hard you try.

Everything you hear about sex is true: it's amazing, fantastic, life-changing, etc. There's a reason people have done it as frequently as they do, for as long as they have. But every time you sleep with someone, you leave a piece of yourself with them. Every time you choose to take that final physical step with someone, you cannot go back and collect that piece of your dignity and soul that you left with someone.

So, imagine what happens when you break up with someone you've slept with. Or that you just hooked up with. You have given someone a little slice of yourself forever. And you can never get it back. And imagine what happens when you do that multiple times. You give a piece of yourself to five, 10, 15, 20 or more people. Then you meet the person that you want to spend forever with. And you no longer have that whole part of you. You've given pieces away, and you can no longer give those to the love of your life.

So, save those pieces for your future spouse.

If you have not had sex yet, wait. If you have, consider not giving more pieces of yourself away to people who are not your spouse. Sex was created to be between two spouses, nobody else. So we need to try to maintain its integrity.

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I've Never Been to Church, but I Believe in a Greater Being

Written during an existential crisis

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I was raised without religion - not necessarily as an atheist but just had never been involved with a church or any church's teachings. This wasn't particularly any decision on my own part, just how life unfolded from my background. An issue that I've constantly struggled with, as early as when I was in first grade, is how life came to be. Quite often, I've had strong, mentally burdening existential crises land on me - possibly because of the lack of religion in my life. When these crises happen, I think often of religion, and in the possibility of a greater being.

Though I've never spent a day in my life at Church, I've developed my own beliefs in a greater being over the years.

The main reason for this is the irrationality of life. There is no proven explanation for how we came to be. Though we can trace back to a certain point - such as how our person, continent, world, planet, solar system was created, there comes a point when we can't explain any further. Everything comes from something. The first cell split into two cells, which continued to split. But what could have caused the first cell? What could possibly have caused something to come from nothing? There are theories that attempt to explain this, such as a disturbance in the blank universe which created the first cells. But, what caused this disturbance? This is something that I'll never be able to prove or even to wrap my head around.

Beyond this, there are so many other parts in our existence that don't make sense or can't be explained. For instance, in quantum physics, particles will split apart for no apparent reason, but when you put a camera up to watch the particles up close (all factors remaining the same), the particles no longer split. Also, there have been proven variations in the most basic physics laws, such as gravity. But no explanation to explain these small 'mistakes'.

For me, I've considered religion to explain these, and I've also considered conspiracy theories such as the simulation theory. The simulation theory and religion share the idea of a greater being - of a creator. Though I haven't had much experience with religion, I can explain the idea of a creator through the simulation theory. In a nutshell, the simulation theory argues that we are in a simulation - the being simulating our world could be in a completely different universe - perhaps different dimensions, different rules of physics, etc. Whatever their world is, it could be something that we can't even fathom - and it could also be a universe that does make perfect sense. Our universe is riddled with mystery and confusion - what if the greater being's world is one that isn't? To think of this, imagine how in a 2D world, the people living in it would never be able to fathom what it's like to live in a 3D world - what we take for granted. In the same way, we may not fathom what it's like to live in an elevated life. If it's likely that we'll ever be able to simulate life, then we ourselves could be living in simulated life (since that technology can exist). This could offer an explanation for our existence, but we would never know. A similar explanation could also be made with religion.

I read an amazing metaphor for believing in a greater being. Imagine when you were first conceived, and living in the belly of your mother for months. At this point (assuming hypothetically that you're conscious), you would have no idea what's to come next. You may believe that birth is death - it's bringing you into something you've never experienced, and you may think this means disappearing. However, you take a leap of faith and you soon find that birth, in fact, leads you to a new chapter of a life. But of course, you would never have known when you were in the womb, where all you knew was what you were experiencing.

It never hurts to have faith. It grounds you and can help you through rough existential crises. Whatever for the reason for our existence, we most likely will never actually find out - possibly in the afterlife, but no one has lived to tell the tale.

Thanks for reading my thoughts, and musing with me during this existential crises.

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