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April 11th, 2012
06:35 PM ET

Human Factor: Promising future after near-fatal fall

Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed.  This week we meet Fairland Ferguson, who has fulfilled a dream of working with horses and making people smile.  She now stars in the travelling equestrian ballet "Cavalia," after surviving a near-fatal accident.

I am a Christian. I believe our purpose on Earth is to serve God and serve other people. I believe every ability, every circumstance and every situation in our life is a gift that we are given to show people God’s love.  I am also a firm believer that everything works out in accordance to God’s plan, and after August 3, 2003, nothing was more clear to me than all of these beliefs.

I should have died that sunny Sunday afternoon in early August - falling 68 feet down a rocky cliff, plunging into 100 feet of water with 46 broken bones and no life jacket.  The doctors told me I would never walk again and if I did, it would be with a severe limp and a cane.  The doctors told me my face would have terrible scars and would never look the same.  The doctors told me they could not guarantee that I would have vision in my left eye.

There were a lot of voices and opinions and advice that I would hear over the next six months as I recovered in the hospital, but I only listened to one and it made all the difference.

After people hear the details of the day and the months and the years to follow, it’s unbelievable how everything in my life was preparing me to handle that particular crisis.  Every detail, every decision, every encounter and every circumstance surrounding my accident could not have been more perfectly planned.  Yes, people think it is easy for me to say that now because of how near flawless my outcome is.  But I clearly remember from the moment I fell off that cliff,  how important it was to have a positive outlook and how you handle any circumstance plays such a big part in the outcome.

Being almost naively optimistic was crucial.  The doctors would tell me information and I remember looking at them, listening, being respectful of their knowledge, but in my head thinking, “That’s nice, but they don’t understand that won’t be my future.”  Ignorance?  Maybe.  Denial?  Possibly. You can call it whatever you want.  I consider it God’s strength and an undeniable hope that wouldn’t take "no" for an answer.

I wouldn’t change one thing about that day.  I wouldn’t change my decisions, the outcome and everything in between.  Circumstances of that magnitude happen to change us and then in turn be used to change other peoples’ lives.  I believe an accident is only an accident if you don’t learn from it, change from it and use it to help others.  In the end, the optimistic part of me won, and that made all the difference.


soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. first

    1st

    April 11, 2012 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Arikashirinkaterikiku

      Love, love this site. I am leading a group of 60 women thgoruh the Girls Gone Wise book and your articles always are ‘right on” for all our discussions!! Keep them coming!! May God continue to Bless this ministry you have!

      September 13, 2012 at 21:25 | Report abuse |
  2. ___.__

    This person honestly believes in a personal god. Someone needs a reality check.

    April 12, 2012 at 02:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Prove that God does not exist. Faith is not an oppinion.

      April 12, 2012 at 16:16 | Report abuse |
    • JMB

      To Elizabeth- No.. you prove 'it' does exist.. There is far too much evidence that this nonsense of a magical man that lives in the clouds is nothing but a bunch of ridiculous crap. Faith– really ? How about we start to believe in ourselves and what we can do as individuals rather than supposedly leaving up to the "the cat in the hat in the clouds".. It is beyond amazing to me that people really think there is a mysterious man living in the clouds that "knows all and controls all".. It sadly only shows how shallow people are in that they need to believe there is something else out there beyond the true reality of how we live. Its is really about time you crazy bible thumpers get a grip on reality...

      April 12, 2012 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Asking someone to "prove that God doesn't exist" is no more to the point than asking someone to prove that there isn't a red giraffe named Mickey who lives inside the planet Jupiter and controls the frequency of my bowel movements.

      You can't prove there isn't. But that's certainly no reason to think there is.

      April 12, 2012 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
    • jp20sd

      In most instances, the onus is on the person saying there "is" something to prove "it" does exist, not the person denying the claim. So glad Jesus died for your sins, so you can keep acting like a fool and getting away with it.

      April 12, 2012 at 18:53 | Report abuse |
    • Dr.Dave

      Please enlighten us with your reality my friend. Ever heard of the God Particle? Look it up. Namaste...

      April 12, 2012 at 21:55 | Report abuse |
  3. Emelia

    This wasn't a very inspiring or moving piece... Well, whatever, it killed time, even though it was boring.

    April 12, 2012 at 05:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • consumelilac

      I thought the exact same thing. There was no 'meat' on the bones of that story, that's for sure.

      April 12, 2012 at 23:44 | Report abuse |
  4. atypical

    hope she gives herself as much credit as she does god for her resilience and courage.

    April 12, 2012 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. This is Not OK

    This is the sort of breathtakingly stupid interpretation of events that allows magical thinking to persist. I know we're supposed to respect everyone's right to believe whatever they want and all, but it's been getting a little out of hand (for the last 2,000 years or so) and starting to seriously cripple humanity.

    April 12, 2012 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. rico16135

    God is an imaginary friend for grownups. You have a choice.

    April 12, 2012 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Fiona

    What hubris! She thinks it was in "God's plan" that she would irvine her fall? So God cared more about her than all the people who did die that day, that week, or in those months of recovery? How dare she!

    Did her god love her so much he threw her own that hillside?

    April 12, 2012 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fiona

      Irvine should be survive...

      The ghost in the machine, known as autocorrect.

      April 12, 2012 at 18:50 | Report abuse |
  8. Joe P

    I fell 160 feet, landed on my head, on the only rock sticking out of a raging rapid and walked out of the hospital that same night with a broken tooth and 24 stiches; not even a concussion; just dumb luck; not some "god" watching out for me. People who surive these things thinking "god" had a hand have egos with no bound. What a crock.

    April 12, 2012 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. voice of wisdom

    I hate all you atheists that think that it is your job to hate on christians at every time they can. she has her belief, and you have yours. seriously, get a life

    April 12, 2012 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Inspired and Curious

    I say this woman rocks. Fiona, You consider the recognition of a need for a power greater than herself to be hubris? And you seem to be offended by her belief that God cares for her even though she suffered a terrific tragedy? Help me here... Rico, you consider God an imaginary friend... What makes the conversation you are beginning right now with a character stream you believe to be someone sharing a different perspective more real than the conversations that this woman has been carying on with the one she believes to be her God?... If I were to tell you that what you think and feel truly matters to me and I want to hear back from you, you could doubt that to the point of not believing that I am "real", but what if it really does matter to me and I really do what to hear back from you? Would you doubt mean that I am not real? To "This is not OK" , Somehow you feel that the fact that faith in God has inspired and strenghtened this woman to move past tragedy in to a beautiful life of significant accomplishment is a sign that faith is "crippling humanity" I'm not sure I understand the correlation. Emelia, is it possible that there was something about the piece that at least made you a little curious, because, after all, you did check out the blog... jp20sd I think I get what you are saying, and if I am right about your implication, I totally agree. If Christians are doing foolish and evil things and then using the Jesus card as their license to act stupid, I agree that they deserve a sarcastic response, but please help me understand what you heard in this young ladies interview or blog that made you feel she deserved such a response. Scott, hope your bowel movements are regular, but I think that this began not by someone trying to prove the existance of God. I think it began with someone expressing their personal belief in God without the least bit of judgment toward those who did not share her belief. Did you read something different than I read? JMB, as a college student who was totally ready to write off the existance of God, at least the God of Christianity, I looked for the evidence that would prove that God does not exist. I actually found very little of such evidence and was actually convinced of the reality of God by the evidence of God's existance. When you say their is "so much" evidence to prove is it is a bunch of "ridiculous crap", please help me with the evidence that you are referring to. I found that ever discipline of higher education from biology to physics to logic brought me to the undeniable reality of God's existance. If you have found a new source of evidence, I would like to know what you are referring to. I would hate to know that I wasted twelve years of post-high-school education on accredited universities that somehow missed this other field of study. Elizabeth, next time you may want to say, "Why does the fact that someone else has faith bother you so much? If they are showing no judgment toward you for not believing, why do you feel the need to judge them for believing." Something like that.... But anyway, I am proud of you for having the courage to step out there and speak up for what you believe. I just wish that those who do not share your faith could be as open-minded as they insist people of faith should be. ___.__ Just a question. IF there was a truly good, truly loving, personal God, (hypothetically- just work with me here) would a relationship with such a personal God be something you would be open to? Fairland. You expressed you faith in a humble, non-judgmental way. Though I respect the right of others on this blog to credit all that has happened in you life to your own strength and resilience, I deeply respect and admire your humility and courage to unashmedly put credit where credit is due. Somehow, I feel that all of us on this blog are going to be inspired to be more humble and courageous as a result. As a former skeptic who now shares your deep faith, I want to say that I could have written any of the other blog posts on this site 33 years ago, and I think I understand where they are coming from. I also understand where you are coming from, and it is a pleasure to stand there with you. You Rock because GOD ROCKS!!!

    April 12, 2012 at 20:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      This is way too long to read. Ever heard of paragraphs?

      April 13, 2012 at 01:14 | Report abuse |
  11. Tug

    "Ignorance? Maybe. Denial? Possibly."

    Yep, sounds like your typical christian.

    April 12, 2012 at 22:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Rodney King

    Can't we all just get along?

    April 12, 2012 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Inspired and Curious

    Tug – If you want to exchange insults, I'm not interested, but if you want to share intelligent communication, I'm up for it.

    Bob – Find below... Just for you.... Paragraphs🙂

    I say this woman rocks. Fiona, You consider the recognition of a need for a power greater than herself to be hubris? And you seem to be offended by her belief that God cares for her even though she suffered a terrific tragedy? Help me here...

    Rico, you consider God an imaginary friend... What makes the conversation you are beginning right now with a character stream you believe to be someone sharing a different perspective more real than the conversations that this woman has been carying on with the one she believes to be her God?... If I were to tell you that what you think and feel truly matters to me and I want to hear back from you, you could doubt that to the point of not believing that I am "real", but what if it really does matter to me and I really do what to hear back from you? Would you doubt mean that I am not real?

    To "This is not OK" , Somehow you feel that the fact that faith in God has inspired and strenghtened this woman to move past tragedy in to a beautiful life of significant accomplishment is a sign that faith is "crippling humanity" I'm not sure I understand the correlation.

    Emelia, is it possible that there was something about the piece that at least made you a little curious, because, after all, you did check out the blog...

    jp20sd I think I get what you are saying, and if I am right about your implication, I totally agree. If Christians are doing foolish and evil things and then using the Jesus card as their license to act stupid, I agree that they deserve a sarcastic response, but please help me understand what you heard in this young ladies interview or blog that made you feel she deserved such a response.

    Scott, hope your bowel movements are regular, but I think that this began not by someone trying to prove the existance of God. I think it began with someone expressing their personal belief in God without the least bit of judgment toward those who did not share her belief. Did you read something different than I read?

    JMB, as a college student who was totally ready to write off the existance of God, at least the God of Christianity, I looked for the evidence that would prove that God does not exist. I actually found very little of such evidence and was actually convinced of the reality of God by the evidence of God's existance. When you say their is "so much" evidence to prove is it is a bunch of "ridiculous crap", please help me with the evidence that you are referring to. I found that ever discipline of higher education from biology to physics to logic brought me to the undeniable reality of God's existance. If you have found a new source of evidence, I would like to know what you are referring to. I would hate to know that I wasted twelve years of post-high-school education on accredited universities that somehow missed this other field of study.

    Elizabeth, next time you may want to say, "Why does the fact that someone else has faith bother you so much? If they are showing no judgment toward you for not believing, why do you feel the need to judge them for believing." Something like that.... But anyway, I am proud of you for having the courage to step out there and speak up for what you believe. I just wish that those who do not share your faith could be as open-minded as they insist people of faith should be.

    ___.__ Just a question. IF there was a truly good, truly loving, personal God, (hypothetically- just work with me here) would a relationship with such a personal God be something you would be open to?

    Fairland. You expressed you faith in a humble, non-judgmental way. Though I respect the right of others on this blog to credit all that has happened in you life to your own strength and resilience, I deeply respect and admire your humility and courage to unashmedly put credit where credit is due. Somehow, I feel that all of us on this blog are going to be inspired to be more humble and courageous as a result. As a former skeptic who now shares your deep faith, I want to say that I could have written any of the other blog posts on this site 33 years ago, and I think I understand where they are coming from. I also understand where you are coming from, and it is a pleasure to stand there with you. You Rock because GOD ROCKS!!!

    April 13, 2012 at 07:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. ratracefail

    As someone who has met Fairland, I have to say she is amazing. I had known she survived a bad accident but didnt know the extent. I dont subscribe to the Christian theology, but that dosent make her opinion or beleifs any less valid.

    April 14, 2012 at 01:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alfonso

      Ladies, I'm very thankful I stlmbued on this blog some time ago. Keep up the great encouraging, inspiring work!Gabrielle, my mom had Cushings, too!! I've never heard of anyone else having it before ~ this is a first! She had surgery a year and a half ago to remove a berserk adrenal gland and her health has improved pretty drastically, though there have been unexpected results of the surgery ( reactive arthritis ) which have counter-balanced the victorious feeling. But I'm glad I can be thankful for more years with mom together with you!

      September 14, 2012 at 00:00 | Report abuse |
  15. Lyndmavis

    Ms.Fairland, i Luv your blog! Bless you for believing He can do anything^o^i believe likewise. *hugs*

    April 14, 2012 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Artur

      Blessings Amydeanne,A beautiful fall famliy photo of many blessings! Indeed from the FULLNESS of His Grace, we have all received one blessing after another. Excellent way to get us ready for THANKING HIM every day and especially for the upcoming month of November count our blessings one by one. I would agree with your blessings of all the little people but for today, my greatest blessing has been sweet sista's in Christ, that have come along side me here in blog land for prayers and their support, that I made a safe trip home & back, though it was full of not so many blessings but problems, I am seeing each one as a blessing because each trial and tribulation could be seen as showing mehow blessed I am that HE PROTECTS ME! (Is that you in the front of this walk, leading the crew? that could be very prophetic, ya' know?) Beautiful WORD!Thanks and love,Peggy(I'm gonna dupe this one over at your home base)

      September 11, 2012 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
  16. DArlene vanetten

    TO inspired and curious thank you for the well writen words. Please if i can I have a few things to share about GOD, maybe not your "GOD IN THE CLOUDS" but the 1 that has saved my pitiful life my times than I have surely deserved. I should have been dead by drownding before 13 and it goes on and downhill from there and everytime I was saved to live again. I have not found a faith to beleive in but i have found my GOD. So maybe you don't need a book of holy words or a special buildings roof over your head just to know there is truly a GOD. Ps would like to speak with INSPIRED AND CURIOUS.

    April 14, 2012 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Inspired and curious

    Would enjoy talking Darlene.

    April 17, 2012 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Hands

    I know this woman personally, and all you naysayers would eat crow after spending any amount of time with her. She is one of the most genuine, loving, caring, and remarkable people that I have had the privilege to know. Remember what your parents SHOULD have taught you, if you have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all!

    April 20, 2012 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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    Nice post, I love your blog!
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    May 2, 2012 at 03:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Vestidos de Noiva

    Hi I'm Abeln Kriegler, a Canadian, originally of Nova Scotia, living life across the pond in London, England with my beardy British beau and a very cranky cat.
    Vestidos de Noiva

    May 10, 2012 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Uvesh

    Sad that I once bought into this pholosiphy and it brought me to Hollywood, CA as a teenager. That place was a real “dead end.” I never felt more alone, unloved, confused, dirty or unholy, unfeminine, angry, ungrateful…the list goes on.When I turned to Christ at 19, a rebirth happened and I love what I see now. I see my worth through the cross and the daily presence and love of my Saviour.One of the most memorable “ah hah!” moments came after I gave up secular music. “Wow! I don’t feel oppressed anymore.” Christian music strengthened my spirit.Musicians are looked at as gurus today…how many awards ceremonies do they need anyway??Watch out for your soul or their words will change how you think.

    September 11, 2012 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply

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