A Healing Message

It’s been said that things happen in threes. After my April 14th surgery, I have to agree. It was supposed to be a simple procedure to repair a torn ligament in my left wrist but the damage proved to be more extensive than the MRI originally showed and the doctor wound up fixing, not one, but three tears.

“One of the ligaments had ripped completely away from the bone,” the surgeon told Bill after my three-hour operation was over. “I had to put two pins in your wife’s wrist to hold the bones together until it heals.”

That was almost six weeks ago and, although typing with one hand has been a challenge, my only regret is that I didn’t do something sooner. Instead I spent the past five years nursing an aching wrist that could have been fixed in one day.

The only thing worse than putting off the inevitable is listening to someone go on and on about an issue that he or she has no intention of addressing. I never want to be that person. While it is noble not to saddle anyone else with our problems, sometimes I think we spend so much time avoiding the pain of doing that we forget about the joy of living with the fruits of our labors.

Why do we do it?

Why are we so determined to play the victim instead of the victor?

If I had to self-analyze my penchant for procrastination, I’d guess that it was because I don’t want to be a burden to my family. Bill may joke about what I spend on purses and shoes but it’s nothing compared to the cost of repairing a ligament; and I’d rather wait until our insurance deductible has been met for other reasons than be the cause for that type of out-of-pocket expense. I also don’t like the idea of having to ask for help with basic tasks like tying my shoes and taking out the trash.

I often say that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Self-sufficiency is no exception, and so I set aside mine to have the surgery. When it was over, I was touched by how much everyone pitched in to help. Not once did Bill complain about the cost. Instead we all had a good laugh over how ridiculous I looked with my arm bent at a ninety-degree angle and pointed at the ceiling to keep the swelling down.

One Sunday morning, for example, when I walked past Hollie with my arm in the air she joked: “I hope you have a ticket.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“To the gun show!” She shouted while flexing her biceps.

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Bill gave me a hug after we got home from church and said: “You’re so nice.”

Once again I looked confused until he held his arm up like mine and pretended to wave at passersby.

All jokes aside, this time of recovery has been a good one because it taught me that relying on others is not a weakness if it brings out another person’s strengths; and when we take care of ourselves it sends the healing message that I am worth it … and so are you.



Someday

While waiting at my youngest daughter’s bus stop, I decided to catch up on some reading and turned my attention to a chapter of The Law of Happiness by Dr. Henry Cloud. In it, the author told this story about a fellow graduate student who suffered from what he called a “future” mind-set of happiness: Several times, when a group of us was going to do something fun, like take a ski weekend or go on a weekend trip to Mexico, we would invite him … And he would say, “I want to, but …”

Cloud went on to say that he eventually stopped asking because he realized “that it was not the paper that had to be finished or the degree or the dissertation or the internship or the license” that was standing in the way of his friend’s happiness. It was his friend. He was standing in the way of his happiness.

The story reminds me of my own experience with a college friend who regularly declined my invitations to come to Chicago because he and his wife were too busy to get away. “I have three jobs right now and we’re not taking any vacations except for an occasional weekend away to Omaha or Kansas City,” he explained. “Our plan is to work until we have paid off our house and saved enough to retire when we’re fifty-five. Then we’ll have time to visit all the places we’ve been wanting to see and really enjoy ourselves.”

Immediately upon hearing this, I thought about all the opportunities our family has seized over the past fifteen years. There were the business trips that the girls and I tagged along on. And the long weekends when we would set out in a new direction to explore sites that were within driving distance from our home. We too were saving for tomorrow, just not at a rate that would sacrifice today.

There’s nothing wrong with saying “yes” when circumstances allow. Jesus actually encouraged it in Luke 16:10 when he said that when we make the most of the small opportunities that come our way, we will be trusted with even bigger ones. My friend did not share this attitude of abundance. Instead, his either-or mindset was convinced that any fun he had now would be at the expense of his future; and current prospects paled in comparison to the promise of tomorrow.

I wish Dr. Cloud would have been there to challenge this person’s long-term plan. To convince him to see my invitation as an opportunity. If he had, he could have shared truths like this one from pages 45 and 46 of The Law of Happiness where he said: some people feel that happiness is on some sort of timeline and depends on a later event. It cannot happen now, because there is a missing piece that has not occurred yet. But in reality, people who think this way do not magically become happy “when” the “whatever” it is happens. They just transfer that mind-set to the next “when.”

Happiness is not a destination. It’s a state of mind. And as much as I wanted my friend to stop planning for long enough to start living, I knew that nothing was going to change his mind.

Not cheap airfare between Omaha and Chicago.

Not having a free place to stay.

And definitely not having a person with my driving record as his personal chauffer.

After hearing him respond to my offer with the promise that he would try to visit some day, I thought about calling out the same words that Apollo Creed screamed in the movie Rocky III after Rocky refused to engage him in the ring.

“I’ll train harder tomorrow,” Rocky said.

“There is no tomorrow!” Apollo screamed.

Creed was right. Someday is not a day of the week and tomorrow never comes. What will come is the moment when we see God in heaven and He holds us accountable by asking: What have you done with today?