Friday, November 4, 2016

"Frankenankle" and the gift of gratitude

I broke my ankle on October 21st. Not only broke it, but dislocated it, too. I really know how to do it up right. Infirmities like this make us appreciate the little things in life: like being able to put your own pants on, go to the bathroom on your own, and take a walk in the lovely fall weather. While loopy on pain meds, I did take a moment for self-pity, but it really was not warranted.

I am thankful for what I do have. I'm thankful for a husband who helps, for friends who send food, and for children who come home to help. And I'm thankful that I will heal, and that after some physical therapy, I'll enjoy that simple pleasure of taking a walk. Simple pleasures taken together, help us foster gratitude, and I think Christians need to regularly declare their gratitude.

Every thing we receive comes from the hand of a loving God; everything. A lack of gratitude shows in our conduct and attitudes. When we lack gratitude, a few things can happen:

  • we complain more easily
  • we become more critical
  • we fail to see what we have and focus on what we think we deserve
  • we allow little things to disgruntle us
  • we grumble and let insignificant things become more important than they ought to be

We like to use Facebook to vent at times, and I have been guilty of sharing my "first world problems" there. I have had my moments over the past couple of weeks, snickering to myself, when others complain, thinking, "How would you like a broken ankle?" That is not only uncharitable, but a little hypocritical, since I do my own share of complaining. I was so very tempted to be ungrateful when I had the first cast removed on Monday to check my incisions. I was a little horrified at what my friend later called "Frankenankle." There were about 18 staples going up the outside of my ankle, and another 12 on the inside of the ankle. It was kind of ugly.

And yet, I should be thankful, because I will walk again. I will heal. I left the hospital with no fear of being unable to pay for the surgery. Yes, my physical pain is real, and yes, it is a struggle, but I can still be grateful. I can only give the credit to God that in the midst of this, I have been prompted to tell myself to be grateful.

Gratitude can only grow with the realization that we don't deserve the good we receive. In our comfy homes with modern conveniences and technology, it's easy to think we deserve only ease and comfort. But all of this is a gift. There is nothing wrong with enjoying God's material goodness, but let's not forget his ultimate goodness: our salvation, his everlasting love, his open ears to our prayers, his comfort, his peace, his Word. When we begin to see each and every gift coming from his hand, we notice the little things more.

It was warm here late Tuesday afternoon; short sleeve weather. I hobbled out carefully on to the deck to be with my dogs. Sitting down, I detected the earthy smell from fallen leaves on the grass. The sun, which was coming from the other side of the house, lit up the yellow of the maple tree. There were wispy clouds above in the blue sky. Maybe I couldn't get out and walk, but that moment of peace and quiet in the midst of a tiring day was a gift. And I was grateful for it.

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