“What happened? Are you okay?” I looked in concern and shock at his left foot, bright red and swollen to six times its size. I had spotted Keith, an old friend I used to work with at DaySpring Cards. I had finished my strength training at Holly Street Physical Therapy.
He leaned on his cane and smiled, “Oh, I’m better now. I can walk! I got a rare bacteria that traveled to my foot. I’ve been in bed. This is my first day up.”
Today I saw him again at Walmart two or three weeks later.
“You look so much better.” He walked without a cane and his foot was down to three times its size. We chatted a while.
Since I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve discovered pain and difficulties have lessons to teach us. I contemplated the suffering he’s been going through. I asked, “What have you been learning from this experience?”
He smiled, “I am not good at being sick. I moaned and groaned about it. Then I went to rehab and saw so many people worse off. Some had lost limbs and I still had mine. Some of them were in wheelchairs and they would not be able to walk. I knew I would walk again.
Dr. Gary Oliver said one time, “We forget to be thankful for what we take for granted. We can see. We can hear. We can walk. We need to be thankful for those things. So I learned to be grateful I can walk.”
I nodded. “Yes, last year I had challenges walking after two accidents. I’m glad for the reminder to be grateful.”
He smiled, “Yes, being able to walk is something to be grateful for. I have two daughters getting married this summer. I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk them down the aisle. Now I can.” His eyes lit up with joy.
“Well, I better go. I tire about this time in the afternoon. I am supposed to put my foot up at work but it’s kind of hard to do. I need to go home and put it up. Good to see you.” He gave me a big smile and walked to the door.
As he walked away, I realized he had given me a gift. I’ve been going through some hard things. This conversation reminded me to be grateful for the things I take for granted.
Last summer, fall and winter I had trouble walking because of two accidents. One totaled my car in a five-car accident that wasn’t my fault. The other, when I fell on a hiking trail. After many months on a walker, a cane and then a special shoe, I can walk freely and without pain.
I needed to be reminded to be thankful for what I take for granted. I’m grateful for both the reminder and for the many things I have in my life to be thankful for. I know people in wheelchairs or ones who have lost limbs who have discovered the power of gratitude as well.
Sometimes people want you to be grateful and not acknowledge your suffering. Gratitude doesn’t deny pain, suffering and hardship. Gratitude gives us the strength to endure hard things and look for the good.
Gratitude lifts us out of self-pity and resentment. Then we can find the lessons in difficulties. When we look for the lessons we grow from strength to strength. We become overcomers!
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:18