The day after Christmas I went to a physical therapy session — not exactly what I wanted to do that day! But I had scheduled it this way so I was going to the appointment. I was waiting for the elevator when the doors opened and I joined others on our trip up to the therapist. I was in a bad mood since this appointment was interrupting my holiday time with the family, but I was doing it — not smiling about it though! I was walking with an ankle brace and a cane and was in my second month of physical therapy after severely breaking my ankle four months earlier.
The young man who exited at the second floor with me was walking on two prosthetic legs with a cane for help. My first thought was that he was a Wounded Warrior, a subject dear to me as our son is active military with the Marine Corps. However, as we were waiting to be called in for PT, several of us in the waiting area spoke together and I learned that he lost his legs in an employment-related electrical event eight years earlier. Indeed, he smiled at me and said that it was no one’s “fault”, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Just then we were both called back for PT and I thought our conversing was over. However, we were placed in the same area and I had occasion to observe his work, his effort and his dedication to rehabilitating to a normal that most of us take for granted and, I dare say, which most of us do not truly appreciate.
We both used the same tilt board which previously had been a painful obstacle that I did not want to tackle. It looks easy but I found it difficult, tiring and just pain hard. After watching him struggle to conquer it, I was humbled and contrite as the therapist put it in front of me, smiling as she said “here is your favorite toy!” Complaining about the challenge of this device was nowhere in my thought that day. I wanted to do my best, without complaining, as this young man had done moments before.
Perhaps this encounter was particularly potent given the timing, coming immediately after Christmas which always involves reflecting about our Lord and His birth and sacrifice for us, about family and the various relationships that we have in our family as well as with others in our circles of involvement. But I find myself pondering whether we recognize how blessed we are in so many ways, especially in ways that we don’t even think of as blessings from our Lord and Savior. The very air that we breathe comes from Him. We are created so that systems which are required for living are automatic, like breathing, our heart beating, our brain functioning, and of course physical healing.
With these blessings, however, come obligations. One is Focus.
There is certainly a time for focused attention to a problem, an issue of concern, or even a rock (if you are a budding paleontologist). However, when we are focused solely on ourselves and our problems, everything else is out of focus. We need to look at the long view, not the myopic view that is so prevalent in our society today.
In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus taught that the one to whom the Kingdom of God will be open is the one who helps others: the one who feeds the hungry; who provides water to those who are parched; who takes in the stranger; who provides clothes for the naked; the one who visited the sick; the one who visited the prisoner. These acts are not the “Salvation silver bullet”. Indeed, when these things are done in our own strength, they are done so that we get the glory, so that we get our name in lights, so that we receive accolades.
Rather, these things reflect a life-style that puts others first, a life-style that addresses the needs and cares of the marginalized and those who are ignored by society. In short, it is a life-style that Jesus Christ exampled for His disciples and it is a life-style that can only be lived by the Christian. It is a life-style that desires glory for God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and this can only come when the Holy Spirit in-dwells the Christian.
On that day, I was acutely aware that while the broken ankle was difficult for me and for my beloved husband who had to do much for me during this time, I know that it is healing and that I can walk and am not confined to the wheelchair. My co-patient today was alive and able to live a normal life while many others who encounter an “electrical event” are not able to do so. He, also, knew that he is healing and, although it is a “new normal”, he is able to live and enjoy life and mobility given his prosthetic limbs. He is seeking to walk and move more confidently with his new legs.
I don’t know if the young man in physical therapy was a Christian or not. I do know that he and his actions spoke to me and reminded me that I need to get my focus back on others as the Lord directs.
Now, I am facing surgery on my knees – another time when it would be easy to focus on the me/my/mine of problems. Again I pray that I would be focused so that, even in the time for rehab and recovery, I will be praising my Lord and Savior and that I will be a blessing to others in the name of my Lord.
Focus – sometimes it is hard, but it is always worth it!