When my girls were diagnosed with a chronic illness and as my own symptoms worsened, I honestly would never have expected to be finding the blessings that have been a result of that illness. I’m not the same person I was even a year ago. I approach situations with more humility and with grace. God has used adversity and physical ailments to teach me lessons in humility as well as extending grace unto me. I’m not saying this to puff myself up because I am nothing without Him. If I handle something well it is all because of God’s grace and not anything that I have done.
Something happened today that would have brought out a hostile response in me a year ago. I’m not telling this story to shame the person who did this nor is this some lesson or rant about those who do not understand invisible illness. Nope, this is me bragging on God’s ability to use something negative for something positive in my life.
Anyway, on with the story! I had some errands to run today and one of those errands was dropping off my daughter’s orthotics. Now, I was raised in the South and I was always taught to open the door for others, especially for your elders. As I approached the big, heavy doors of the medical center, I noticed an older man behind me. I did as I have always been taught and pulled open the door, choosing to hold it for him to go through.
Family and close friends can tell you that I’ve been having severe neck and shoulder pain for the last couple weeks and pain has been at an all time high. I need to see a doctor for this issue but that’s another story for another day. Relevant to today is that when I opened that door I heard a loud pop that was followed by a LOT of burning and pain from my sternum. This was very painful and along with the shoulder and neck bothering me, I really just wanted to cry. Instead, I said nothing, I did nothing. I allowed the door to close behind us and continued on my way.
At the next set of double doors, this man who was now in front of me, stopped and motioned for me to open the door for him again. Which honestly, yes, I thought that was a little odd that he didn’t open the doors for me this time. I continued my course and stepped forward, cringing and trying to go my way without anyone noticing that I’m hurt. It was in that moment that I decided that I would push the handicap button that makes the door open for you automatically.
This is where my story turns sour. This man turned with pure hatred flash in his eyes and exclaimed, “That’s for handicapped people and a little exercise has never hurt anyone. That’s what’s wrong with this generation…always trying to do things the easy way.”
I was physically hurting and his words stung. They just did. I am human. I could feel some nasty reply bubbling up and start to spew out and then… peace. Just overwhelming peace. I felt all that hurt just disappear as grace enveloped me like a warm glove. I smiled at the man and said, “You’re right. Thank you. You have a really great day and try to stay warm.” I smiled the whole way to the car. It was like God gently nudging me and saying, “You wouldn’t have felt better had you rebuked him. I’m proud of you.”
I knew He was right. If I’d had my way, I’d have rebuked this man. Then, I’d have just steamed awhile and let it eat away at me. I would have probably made a long facebook post to rant and wallowed in my loathing. I would likely have called the guy some names and stirred up a response and disgust from my fellow spoonie friends and ruined their day as well.
He wasn’t worth it.
Some might call it taking abuse. I call it not letting him have anymore power over me than he did in the moment that he chose to hurt my feelings.
So, I will say a prayer for him today. I will pray that he finds peace in his life. I will not allow his words to continue to hurt me because they’re just words and they were spoken out of misunderstanding. I won’t continue to let one mistake made by this man to ruin my day or to dampen my spirits. His lack of empathy and understanding is his own problem that he will have to resolve. I shouldn’t make the problems of others into my own problem
This is what dealing with adversity has taught me. It has taught me that God will give grace to deal with things as they arise as long as my heart is open to His direction. His grace and peace is way more satisfying than listening to my prideful heart that really wanted to take a stand and say something.
Can you join me, friends? Say a prayer for this man? Can you say a prayer for those that have hurt you?
In prayers for peace and grace,