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Op-Ed: What Ethan Asher's Story has Taught Us, So Far

Image Credit: Brian Morse


As a resident of Northern Wyoming, unless you’ve been under a rock, Ethan Asher’s story has caught your attention. His late-August vehicle rollover has left a Powell family, and community, rife with all matter of emotions. In spite of the tragedy, and like a book you can’t put down, Ethan’s story continues to develop. His parents, Tiffani and Andy, have bravely chosen to share Ethan’s progress to an ever-expanding audience-#ethanstrong. They share for updates on his condition to thousands. They share for the sheer riveting details of his progress. They share for the hope and support from their community. And most importantly, they share for the power of prayer. As an observer, friend, parent, believer, and member of the community, The Telegraph has humbly assembled some thoughts regarding the importance of Ethan’s story and why the breadth of #ethanstrong has infinite reach. With the utmost in respect for the family’s situation, and Ethan, the observations are as follows:

Every Morning, We Say Goodbye to Loved Ones:

I wasn’t there when Ethan hit the driver’s seat that morning. I don’t know what he ate for breakfast, if he was in a hurry, if he was running plays in his head, tormented his sister, or brushed his teeth. ‘Love you!’ he yelled on his way out the door. I can only surmise that it was an average morning. Regardless, we say goodbye to our loved ones all the time. Goodbye for the day, week, maybe even longer. We say goodbye hoping and trusting we’ll see our loved ones in the same condition they left. I cannot imagine what hearing the news was like that morning for Ethan’s closest of kin, but because of it, I make a bit more eye contact, say ‘I love you’ a few more times, and whisper a few more prayers under my breath before departures. Thanks, Ethan.

Ethan is Unabashed:

It has been many moons since I was Ethan’s age. From what I remember though, I was selfish, superficial, shallow, and insecure. I wasn’t unique, either. It’s just how things are as a kid in high school, eh? What struck me about Ethan, before I even knew of his academic and athletic prowess, was how he carried himself. I met him at a Christian camp for kids. Suffice it to say the camp is work. Rewarding, but work. Ethan was silly, funny, serious, reverent, a leader, a servant, and every possible combination in between. He had a job to do, and that was glorify Jesus Christ. Well, that and clean toilets. He did both incredibly and left an impact on me and those he served with. Thanks, Ethan.

Ethan is Ardent:

Ardent is just a fancy word for enthusiastic, impassioned, or intense, but at a slightly higher level. Think of Nigel Tufnel’s volume knob going to eleven when ten is already plenty. That’s Ethan: an eleven when ten is plenty. His parents shared a testament to this on the #ethanstrong Facebook page. It was an excerpt from Ethan’s game journal that read like this:

1st- Play with a first down mentality. Don’t go for the glory play but rather take each play one at a time and get first downs. First downs win the game.

2nd- It’s not about me, it’s about them. Love others more than you. Find what you’re good at and use it to help others.

3rd- Cannot be great alone. Be the best you can be. Do your job. If you can’t lead yourself how are you going to lead others?

4th- Is it worth it? Find others behind your reasoning. When the hits come, focus on people around you.

Whoa. Massive words from a young man wise beyond his years. When the hits come, and Ethan’s was a big one, focus on the people around you. Your community is focused on you, Ethan. And on God’s healing hand. Wise words. Thanks, Ethan.

Miracles Are Real, Not by Chance, and Have Already Happened:

Have you seen the photos from Ethan’s accident? The accident he survived? There’s your first miracle. Or the neighbor who promptly came upon the accident and phoned for help? What about his spinal surgery wherein it was discovered the spinal cord was not completely severed (‘whole’ in the words of the doctor)? No? How about the wiggling toes after the nurse tickled his feet? Finding the source of infection after being stumped? Episodes of self-driven breathing?

Make no mistake, the word ‘miracle’ is about as overused as they come, but Ethan’s progress is far too removed from happenstance to be anything but a series of miracles. We are not ignorant of the fact that Ethan’s path to recovery is lengthy, or what recovery even looks like, but we know that God hears prayer and that He is far from done with miracles. Keep praying, readers. Keep punching, Ethan.

The Village is Alright:

The world would have you believe your neighbor is a fool. That those who disagree with you are dangerous. Media is even quicker to cover stories of riots, fights, polarizing politics, and Tide Pods, but there is something special happening in our neck of the woods in spite of it all: #ethanstrong has taken root and exemplified what it looks like to rally behind a family and friend in the midst of hardship.

A quick scroll through the #ethanstrong Facebook page reveals that people from all beliefs, locations, and walks of life have united behind Ethan and his family during the unthinkable. A dozen or more fundraisers, pictures of supporters (some as far away from Italy), a radio show, and regular updates from his mom and dad dot the feed of #ethanstrong, but one part in particular blows me away: solidarity from rivals. Would-be opponents of Ethan’s Powell Panthers, along with teams across the country who will never so much as scrimmage the Panthers, have shown their respect and support of Ethan with the infamous hashtag scribed across a forearm or bicep. How can you tell whether or not you’re living an upright life? When even your opponents wish you well. Keep leading, Ethan.

Faith in God is All We Really Have:

Andy Asher could power clean a full-sized tractor. Tiffani could stop a cruise missile with just a glance. Brooks is freakishly handsome, and Payton could outwit Google. All this to make the point that if there were any family in the world who could get Ethan on his feet through their own deeds, it’d be the Asher’s. It just doesn’t work that way, however. Mankind’s scope of patience and understanding at a time like this is finite and ghastly inconsistent, but to an omnipotent God, these things are but perfectly orchestrated events. Carved in time before time even existed.

To be crystal clear, this isn’t to suggest that the weight of Ethan’s accident isn’t still crushing, or that human emotion is all folly, but to reiterate that every facet his recovery has been scripted by a loving and very personal God. When all else has failed, indeed all we have left is the eternal promise of God's faithfulness. It is sustaining when nothing of the flesh is. Perhaps most important of all, Ethan has stirred our faith in God. Bless you, Ethan.

It is with a heavy but hopeful heart our community stands with the Asher’s. In my most wildest of dreams, I still cannot fathom the highs and lows they are going through. All we can do as fallible human beings is pray for God’s comfort, understanding, and healing hand. Some time ago, in tongue and cheek, I told Ethan he had better remember me –an aging, insecure, wannabe hipster- after he made the big leagues. He assured me he would. It is my humble estimation that Ethan will make good on his word. Indeed, history begets he isn’t the type to break a promise.

God Bless our community. God Bless the Asher family. God Bless Ethan.

-The Park County Telegraph

***For updates and ways you can help, please follow the #ethanstrong Facebook Page.

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