Seven years ago this month marks the anniversary of the tragic accident that involved a Taylor University van full of students and staff on I-69; not far from my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Five lives were lost on the fateful evening of April 26, 2006. The story not only hit national news immediately, but six years later it became one of NBC Dateline’s most popular stories in their twenty year history due to the mistaken identity of two, blonde haired students at the scene of the accident.
For anyone not familiar with the story, in a nutshell, a young female student that was supposedly Laura VanRyn was thrown some fifty feet from the van and sustained multiple broken bones, lacerations, bruises and a traumatic brain injury. She was airlifted to a hospital in Fort Wayne. When her parents and siblings arrived from out-of-state, they were told by the physician a couple of times to be prepared for what they would see when they entered her dimly lit room in ICU. Her face would be swollen, scratched, bruised, and bandaged; she was on a respirator; and tubes would be coming out of her body.
Long story short, at the scene of the accident, in the midst of the chaos with purses and items strewn all over two blonde-haired students’ identities were accidentally switched. For five weeks the VanRyn family unknowingly watched vigil at the bedside of a young woman that was not their daughter. Even though the girl’s college roommate and a couple family friends noticed the person in the hospital bed was not Laura VanRyn; it wasn’t until she started waking up from her coma and saying that her name was Whitney, did the reality of the mistaken identity start to unfold.
The story is unbelievably sad, and I can’t begin to imagine the traumatic confusion those families endured.
Every since learning about the mistaken identity, I’ve been both intrigued and amazed how the mind has the potential to believe and become most anything it is told.
Years ago I attended a Twelve Step program, and at the beginning of this particular group of meetings everyone went around the room and introduced themselves as a 'Compulsive Overeater'. Seriously. That was the introductory declaration before each meeting. After declaring that repeatedly, it started to become my identity. So guess what I did every time I was stressed out? . . . .or sad, tired, happy, frustrated, bored, lonely, or discouraged? I compulsively overate!
In the summer of 2008, when I committed to the nutritairan eating-style, from day one onward I told myself and everyone around me that I was a nutritarian. A nutritarian is someone who eats high-nutrient foods to meet the body’s biological needs for optimal nutrition; not for emotional, social, or recreational reasons. Being a nutritarian became my new identity; a compass so-to-speak. And guess what? My identity changed! I became a nutritarian!
We really do become what we believe, and what we repeatedly tell others.
We all need to ask ourselves if we are believing and declaring an identity that is incongruent with that which we want to become. If we are, we need to change what we believe; for only then can our true, positive identity come forth.
In other words, we need to be careful not to believe that we are someone we don’t want to become. We must not live with a mistaken identity. Life is too short to become someone we never intended to be!
Here’s to being a healthy and vibrant nutritarian to all!
image credit: flickr by Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad History