The Sunday after Thanksgiving, the sermon at church was about giving thanks in all circumstances. I’ve read about (and even written about!) giving thanks so much that I feel like I *know* it. But obviously I have yet to really learn this valuable lesson.
On September 22, I fell while running and broke my ankle. I was in my glory, listening to music, breathing deeply, sweating and in a great run groove…when I misjudged the lip of the trail (thinking it was flat against the road rather than a raised, uneven surface) and before I knew what was happening, I was on the ground in severe pain. I went to Urgent Care at my husband’s insistence and couldn’t believe when the doctor said that the ankle was actually broken. I bawled. In fact, I cried more at the feeling of being overwhelmed and defeated than I did at the pain of the injury. I cried and cried and cried. No running (which keeps me sane!) was a devastating thought. But, even more so, I already struggle with school, and I really thought that this was the nail in the coffin of getting my degree. If I couldn’t get to class, I couldn’t possibly learn and the last year and a half was literally for nothing. So, I cried some more…
Also at first, I struggled with my crutches to do simple tasks like get to the bathroom. The pain kept me awake at night, so I was exhausted. And physical pain takes some mental bandwidth, and I need all my cognitive capacity for school. So, I prayed. And I’ve felt like I was to give thanks. Even now, God?
In fact, I read Judges 7 shortly thereafter where God picked Gideon to go fight the Midianite army. It seemed impossible! But, God reminds us that NOTHING is impossible for Him. God also told Gideon to send some of the warriors home when they got to battle because otherwise, they would get conceited and think that it was their own strength that saved them. So, 22,000 men went back and 10,000 remained. But, this was still too many – otherwise the men would become proud and forget to thank God. So, God thinned out the number of warriors by telling Gideon to have the men drink from the water and keep only those who cupped water in their hands and lapped it up. With the 300 men who were left, GOD defeated the Midianite army and saved the Israelites.
I felt as if God was telling me that graduating will happen due to His strength and help and not from my own power, intellect and resources. The broken ankle this semester helped me rely on God more. Honestly, I knew God was the One who brought us this far. If I continue hereafter, it is truly for His glory.
Likewise, I’m trying to be thankful for the circumstance. For example, I have a professor who struggles with mobility, and I am better able to relate to him and ask if/when he needs help. I also have more empathy for students who come in on crutches. I was able to get a temporary handicap parking tag, which has enabled me to get to class. I have not fallen again (and I felt super wobbly on crutches!). My kids have learned new tasks and chores around the house as I’m not able to do everything. A very touching moment for me was when I was cooking dinner on Thanksgiving, and I overheard my husband honoring me by telling the boys how hard I work, that even with a broken ankle I still try to make sure that they have a nice meal and everything they need. I don’t remember the exact wording, but I remember being touched when I heard the conversation happening in the next room over. In fact, I would say that the injury has brought Shawn and me even closer together. I told him that I was useless and he’d be better off without me – I cried that I felt like another demanding kiddo to take care of. He said nonsense – he signed up for sickness and health, and we would get through this time together. He has selflessly sacrificed and done chores I normally do, helped the kids and me, and we have survived. I have all the more respect and love for him.
I also have a surreal peace this semester. I can’t worry about being on campus more than I am because I can’t elevate and ice my ankle there, and I truly need to heal. It does no good to worry about trying to get my run in because I physically can’t. I have found that worrying really hasn’t helped anything at all. In fact, physical pain has helped ground me in reality rather than my typical inclination to worry.
Am I 100% healed yet? I wish! Unfortunately, I must still rely on God to get me through, day by day. But, am I thankful even in this terrible circumstance? Absolutely! I’m thankful for healthy kids, a loving husband, enough money to survive, the love and support of family and friends, and even for the injury itself, as I expect that God is using this to teach me and mold me and refine my character. I can’t be proud or believe that it’s my own strength that gets me through each day or to the end of the semester…I *KNOW* that each step has been evidence of God’s grace in my life. So, I’m still learning… and trying to be grateful in all circumstances.
Dear God, we thank You that You love us and work EVERYTHING for our good. We don’t always love the ways that You teach us, but we choose to give thanks for refining us through both the bitter and the sweet. Truly, we have been blessed with all that we need. Thank You for both the good and the bad. May we give you glory for all that You do for us, and may we serve as a reminder to others that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU! In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!