It happens to everyone. No one is immune. At some point life is going to kick us all right where it hurts most.
You become the boss’s latest cutback. Your spouse says he/she doesn’t feel you anymore. The doctor confirms your worst fear and has little hope. Your difficult teenage daughter runs off and is gone for days.
Or, your country sends you to war, and your body is blown apart by a terrorist’s bomb.
Such is the story of Marine Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez.
I had the honor of speaking with Sgt. Sanchez on my show (The audio is archived on the Trey Ware page at KTSA.com).
Jose joined the Corp after graduating from Memorial High School in San Antonio, and as was the case for so many Marines in 2011, he was sent to the heart of war in Afghanistan.
His eyes saw things no human should see. He did things only heroes do.
Then as Sgt Sanchez was preparing to return home, his life was changed forever in less than a millisecond.
Sgt. Sanchez stepped on an IED.
The powerful explosion ripped through his body, throwing him yards away from his original position.
As Jose began to regain consciousness he looked down to see the lower part of his leg fall from his body.
When he told me that, I had to pause to let that sink in. He watched his leg slip off of his body.
Jose was returned to San Antonio for the medical care he needed to survive.
As the treatment began, Jose was faced with the same question everyone must face when something terrible happens –
“How do I respond?”
The ultimate question is not IF life is going to knock the breath from us. The question is how will we respond.
Most of us respond by feeling sorry for ourselves, expressing extreme anger, or placing blame.
(Add your own here)
Sgt. Sanchez chose a different way. Indeed, a Better Way.
As he was laying in a military hospital bed in San Antonio, Jose began to see himself walking again. He made a decision to not choose anger, or place blame, or feel sorry for himself.
Instead, Jose created a picture in his mind of him walking – again.
The ensuing months and years of rehab were brutal, but every time he began to feel as though he wouldn’t be able to persist another second, he would see himself walking – again.
And the vision birthed a dream inside Jose.
Sgt Sanchez wanted to inspire others who were facing dark days.
Jose told me he isn’t much of a preacher. He didn’t want to give other amputees a canned speech about making it “if you try.” While the rah rah stuff works for some, Jose knew people needed more.
When people are staring hell in the face they need to actually see that they can overcome anything.
So, in true Marine fashion, Jose dreamed of leading by example. Few words – all action.
This past Monday Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez completed the Boston Marathon for a second time. He crossed the finish line carrying the standard of the country he loves so much – the flag of the United States.
Thank you, Jose for showing us that none of us needs to give in when life slaps us around. We can choose a better way. We can see ourselves walking – again. Even running.
We can see ourselves living as an example to hurting people. And everyone is hurting in some way.
And because of Jose and others who choose the better way, maybe we can help each other along the way.
Wouldn’t that be nice?