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  • Tim Lee

How My Near-Death Experience in 2021 Prepared Me for 2022.


As this holiday season comes to a close, most people are reflecting on what they did in 2021 and what they want to do in 2022. Not unlike most people, I find myself doing the same thing. However, many of my thoughts are interrupted by the memory of a near-death experience I had in November.


My Near-Death Experience

I was enjoying music while driving to a meeting in Chicago. After stopping at a red light approximately five minutes away from my destination, I noticed a black SUV swerving in and out of traffic. They, too, were listening to music, as I could hear it despite both our windows being up. When the SUV stopped at the same red light where I was waiting, I was kind of relieved—as they were driving so recklessly, I thought they would cause an accident. I looked in their direction. Then I saw the passenger side front and back windows roll down. Guns emerged from those windows and were pointed in my general direction. Suddenly, I saw sparks flying from those guns and heard what sounded like a Fourth of July firework display.


The traffic light turned green, but only one car moved. The SUV sped off leaving traffic on both sides of the light frozen in disbelief. I checked to see if I was bleeding anywhere (as I’ve always heard when you get shot, you don’t realize you’re shot until you see the blood). But I saw no blood and I felt no pain. I was just shaking uncontrollably. I did my best to collect myself and made it safely to my meeting.


The Questions and Lessons

I could have died.

Why didn’t I die?

Why am I still here?


These questions have been haunting me ever since that day. And they have helped me further shape and define the purpose with which I live. What I have learned from entertaining these questions taught me three lessons this season.


1. Assurance that I am here for a reason.

2. Belief in my uniqueness being necessary for the work I am called to do.

3. Confidence that I can and will fulfill my purpose for being here during this time.


Looking over these lessons, they seem rather elementary and self-evident… not as profound as one might imagine, considering the near-death experience—but because of where I was emotionally before the experience, they mean so much more.


Depression in 2021

2021 wasn’t the best year for me. I experienced a lot of disappointments. Disappointments in business, in love, in life, and mainly in myself. My lows seemed to outweigh my highs. Depression and feelings of aloneness knocked at my door persistently. I had a bout with COVID. I couldn’t pay all my bills. I was taken advantage of by clients. I didn’t feel supported. I questioned whether I was on the right path. I questioned why I was waking up daily.


When I saw those guns come out the window, it was a natural thought to think that Death was coming to take me so that I could do life again—and perhaps get it right the next time. This is why being alive today is so significant. It means I was wrong about my assessment of my life. Not getting shot in the crossfires of that drive-by shooting revealed to me how shot-up my self-image had become. How my identity had become entangled with my struggles… how I interpreted my struggles as failures… and how I internalized my failures to mean that I was a failure.


Inspiration for 2022

I don’t know who can relate to these feelings… but I want to encourage us as we cross over into the New Year together, that the fact that we are still here means something. We are still breathing for a reason. We still have work to do—that only we can do! We still have people to reach—that only we can reach! We still have lessons to learn and lessons to teach. And though we also have mountains to climb, and paths that we must clear, our uniqueness is exactly what we need to get over them. And the message that we will have once we’ve overcome will be just what the world has been waiting for.


I look forward with excitement and hope for 2022; and I pray that this brief testimony has inspired you to (as they say in the Black Church) keep on keeping on.


We can do it!

We will do it!

We MUST do it!


Happy 2022!