In Washington State you cannot get your driver’s license until you are 16 years old. I think this is a very good rule and always will. Why? Let me tell you a story…
Shannon was a nice friend to have at church. She added a lot of joy to the singing quartet I led when we were in high school. She always invited me to youth group and encouraged me to hang out with her and her friends. And she made me feel wanted, cared about, like one of the gang.
Shannon was a social butterfly, very comfortable around boys, laughing, joking etc. She taught me a lot about being a teenage girl, kicking back with gal pals, and flirting with the guys. She was a fun, popular, and genuinely a nice person.
In the Spring of ’85 (yes, a long time ago), she invited me and my dear friend, Katie, to go to a Michael W. Smith concert. I’d never gone to a concert before. I was so excited! That night we laughed, sang, linked arms, and swayed to the music. I had never had so much fun with gal pals ever! In spite of the fact I couldn’t hear worth a darn afterward, it was awesome!
Some Milestones Are Better Than Others
No sooner had this whole new world of fun and frolicking opened up to me when, “BAM!,” I was overcome by complete devastation. Some milestones aren’t welcome.
Shannon died. She was in a car accident the night before we were to sing some special songs at church. We were all crushed. How could this be, God?! She’s just a kid! Everyone loved Shannon, so why not take me instead?! Oh, I wrestled with that feeling of guilt and unworthiness most of the summer.
Our quartet stopped singing. We went through a time when we really didn’t even interact with each other. It hurt too much!
Thank God, our mom’s were watching out for us. They helped us pick up the pieces and move forward. It was hard, at first. Shannon’s parents stopped coming to church. This was sad. I felt like if I had just run over to them and hugged them that maybe they would have stayed. I think the reality that even kids can die was so frightening that I was just emotionally frozen for a while.
It’s amazing how some of our greatest losses can have the most incredible impact on the directions of our lives. At church, I was suddenly viewed as a leader in the youth group. I ended up changing my career path from majoring in Music to majoring in Youth Ministry. More milestones.
Little did I know the pain I experienced as a kid would provide me with the tool of compassion.
As the years go buy I think of Shannon often, all the amazing gifts of life she has missed out on because of one mistake in a car. I sing this song and share this story so kids can hear first-hand about the importance of taking driving seriously. No texting, speeding, goofing around…please!! You have so much ahead of you. Don’t miss it! Arrive at all the positive milestones you can.
What has been a significant life-shaping event in your life?
Add to the conversation! We’ll be glad you did. And if you’d like, you can listen to a sample of my song, “Milestones” on iTunes.