Here I go again.
This past week I had surgery on my right heel to remove a bone spur that was aggravating my Achilles tendon. If that sounds familiar, it is almost the identical surgery I had on my left heel last Christmas. So, once again, I am facing 7-8 weeks of immobility as I am under orders to keep my leg elevated and avoid putting any pressure on my foot…..for TWO Months. Been there, done that, have to do it again.
If I have learned anything from enduring these bouts of adversity, it is that in suffering I learn the most and grow as a person.
In my case, I must find a way to leverage my immobility as an opportunity for personal improvement. To do otherwise will inevitably lead down a greased pathway to insanity.
Being still and inactive is not something I handle well.
So how can I avoid the insanity of immobility?
Having walked, excuse me, laid down on this path before, TheBuddyBlog.com has some observations to make about lessons to be learned from a short-term horizontal lifestyle.
- Your mind will turn into mush if you watch too much TV. When people ask me the secret of a successful retirement, one of the first things I suggest is to avoid the wasteland of television. Spending your day watching NCIS reruns can be hazardous to your health. Likewise, enforced immobility may seem to offer few alternatives but binge-watching TV shows. However, it is imperative during this time to be selective as to what I allow my mind to focus upon.
- “Be still and know that I am God.” I have always strived to have a daily quiet time. A regular period of prayer and contemplation has proven to renew and recharge my spirit and faith in the Lord. I must take advantage of my “stillness” and turn an adversity into an occasion for spiritual growth.
- Write, write, write. Growing spiritually also means I can grow as a writer. If for no other reason then I have more time to ponder the priorities of life and generate new topics for my musings on TheBuddyBlog.com.
- Reading can nourish your soul and recharge your spirit. Prior to surgery and in anticipation of my extended recovery period, I prepared a stack of magazines and books to read while lying supine upon our couch. What better time to catch up on my reading.
- Learning to receive. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways that I have always strived to be a channel of His blessings rather than a cup that merely receives those blessings. In other words, I pray to be someone who helps, encourages, and supports those in need. Now, being laid up again after another outpatient surgical procedure, it is I who is on the receiving end of the generosity of others. It is an uncomfortable position. Lessons in humility usually are. Asking for help and accepting it is a humbling act, but one that allows others to be a channel of God’s blessing.
- More time to dialogue with your spouse. Since my wife and I are both retired, you might assume that we have plenty of time to converse. You would be correct. One of the joys of my marriage is the time I spend dialoguing with my beloved. She is a fascinating woman and our times discussing life’s issues is something I cherish. Now, being laid up and needing her assistance to get around the house, I find that her sacrificial acts of service have prompted our dialogue to delve into areas previously untouched. Our transparent communication has served to deepen our relationship….which leads to my next lesson learned.
- “Life is relationships, the rest is just details.” This quote by Dr. Scott Sticksel confirms what I have learned during my recent times of immobility. Not being able to enjoy your adult toys, or strike off items on your bucket list, or continue your pursuit of a hole-in-one can easily put anyone into a bad mood. Instead, this is a time to focus on relationships and the things that really matter. Doing so allows you to discover the real treasures in life.
- Contentment is preferred over Happiness. Happiness, I have learned, is fleeting. It comes and goes. But contentment is an attitude of the heart. It is a sense of peace that comes when one lives a life of faithful trust in the love and sovereignty of God. As the plaque on my wall reminds me, “The man whose joy is Jesus can never be sad.”
- Empathy grows during times of adversity. I really cannot complain. My immobility is a short-term thing. Come 2019, I will be walking again, without pain. Others are not as fortunate. Seeing the disabled deal with their handicap has always been an inspiration for me. My experience has only deepened my appreciation and respect for those who deal with adversity. One of my wife’s physicians is fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Meeting him and watching him work is nothing short of inspiring.
- Responding to adversity reveals who you are or can become. Someone once said that it is not getting knocked down that defines you but rather how you respond to it. Responding to failure or, in my case, a physical disability provides a defining moment. I can wallow in self-pity or seize the opportunity to grow in the purifying fire of the crucible of adversity. And I do not like to wallow.
It is far too easy for those of us who have a season of immobility to allow it to be viewed as a waste of time or a roadblock to enjoying life. I am pursuing a different path. One of hope. A hope that when this temporary setback is behind me, I will be better prepared for that which is ahead of me, because of what I have done during these two months of immobility.
I think it was Dr. Seuss that said, “When something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”
I am choosing door #3, let it strengthen me. Besides, insanity is not an option.