I recently found myself in a challenge of my own making. I made a poor decision and hurt myself in the process and as a result I was advised to undergo surgery. To have the surgery or not was difficult for me to determine. No real guarantees either way, but what in life really is? I prayed for answers and they came in the form of my loved ones’ encouragement. I was too emotionally involved. They provided the clarity and wisdom I lacked. I was really scared. However, my family and friends lifted me up in a tidal wave of faithful petitions to our Heavenly Father and I found myself in a veritable ocean of peace which defied understanding.
I had a dear friend say to me… it is a privilege to be able to have the surgery, to have the good doctors and nurses, to have the resources, and to have the opportunity for a better condition. Yes, TRUTH….a privilege indeed. I needed that reminder. I find that it is very easy to get sucked into the black hole of fear (or self pity) when I am hurt. That is why we need our posse’ of loved ones nearby to circle the wagons in prayer, in support, and encouragement. They remind us who we are in our moments of panic. They pick us up and carry us when we are unable to move under our own steam. They pull us out of that vortex that threatens to engulf us. Our challenges coupled with their loving actions and kind words teach us how to be that person for some one else. Blessings always work both ways.
And then the recovery…. that has been the most challenging of all. Learning to walk and navigate the everyday spaces, learning new routines requiring balance and coordination, doing exercises that hurt in an effort to heal, problem solving how to perform the simplest of life tasks like taking a shower, getting dressed or carrying a coffee cup from point A to point B on crutches. Everything is hard. What once took 5 minutes now takes 25. Being helpless is exhausting. It is humbling. It is scary. If not for my husband, A.K.A. my security blanket, to care for me, and family and friends to sustain me with their caring demonstrations of help and meals and transportation, I don’t know what I would have done. So much of life, and our support groups, is taken for granted in the peaks.
It hasn’t been fun…but it has been good. Good for me to grow in faith, connect with my people, reach out for help, reflect on what I am learning, and acquire a greater degree of empathy for others. I pray for discernment to be more caring toward those in need. It has been a huge blessing in a painful disguise. As I assess my position, I am now asking myself a serious question…. How can I get over myself and use this experience to make a difference?
For me this is all temporary, God willing, until my leg heals. In the scheme of things, this is really not a big deal. It is a mere blip on my radar screen. People do it every single day. However, I have had a lot of time on my hands to remember all those for whom it is NOT a temporary condition. There are those who will live their entire lives with a disability. There are those who are hurt beyond repair and have lost the use of their limbs or the actual limbs themselves. Handicap parking spaces and access ramps have taken on a whole new meaning. My eyes will now be riveted to those special grocery carts for ones who have trouble walking. That slowly moving individual taking measured steps will gain my attention and my caring efforts to help, instead of my impatience for them to hurry along or move out of my way. Then, the most heartbreaking of all, there are those that may have to face these challenges alone.
Steve and I have been on a journey this year to challenge ourselves as a couple as we head toward our 40th anniversary. This current unexpected experience has challenged us in unimaginable ways as well. The words joyfully spoken within our wedding vows… in sickness and in health and for better or for worse have gained new meaning as we have relied on each other and shifted our established roles to meet new demands. His world has been rocked as much as mine. It has given us both an opportunity to become better humans. It has allowed us to aspire toward the germination of a servants’ heart. Together we are embracing our efforts to use this challenge for good.
With a family legacy of military service, our thoughts have been gently nudged toward our veterans coming home with injuries that have taken away bits and pieces of their normal. Their injuries came as a result of defending our country, preserving peace, or saving lives….not from a silly decision like mine. We think of them in hospitals far from their families and friends. Our hearts literally break for them. It did before, but this challenge has given us new eyes. It has given us a stepping stone to another viewpoint.
We have researched an agency called Fisher House at the advice of a young friend. It helps to provide homes where military families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. These are injured people who need their loved ones near as they learn to face their new normal. They need a posse’ to circle the wagons. We wish to honor our military and help to support families that are faced with life changing events. Perhaps your challenges have led you to other stepping stones, but if you would like to join us on ours, we would love the company. They have these special houses in a majority of the states and some overseas. Please consider a donation to the Fisher House or find a volunteer opportunity near you: https://donate.fisherhouse.org/default.aspx?tsid=3147
“A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor”