Last Thursday morning as I was walking very slowly and sweeping our wet concrete basketball court with a push broom, I suffered a freak accident that shattered my kneecap in two. I still am puzzled by how I fell. I was walking very slowly as I made the turn with my push broom. If anything, the broom helped me be more stable on my feet. It was as if a lightening bolt struck me. I was on the ground before I even knew what hit me. I actually looked around from the pavement to see if I had been attacked because the fall seemed unnatural and as I was lying there, it seemed like I had been pushed in the shoulders. It’s a really bizarre accident.
Yesterday while sitting on the porch all day, a kind friend came to visit me. Together, we wondered aloud what would have happened if instead of my kneecap I would have hit my head with that kind of violence. Given the force, time and location of the fall, I doubt I would still be alive today. Therefore I am very grateful for this relatively minor injury.
One thing that is clear to me is that troubles like this are often a blessing in disguise. Suffering can be medicinal. When confronted with these trials, I must ask the question, “How can this suffering help form me into the person God wants me to be?” As I lie around immobilized today, I have been thinking about 4 ways in which this broken bone might be medicine for my soul or for the soul of others:
1) Maybe I’m not humble enough. It’s humbling not to be able to move about freely and care for yourself. Humbling to have to depend on others so much. Humbling to appear disheveled and feeble and wretched in front of them. Humility is perhaps the greatest of all virtues. Whatever moves me more towards more authentic humility is good for my soul. So my job is to remain joyful and accept whatever God has given me.
2) Maybe I’m not grateful enough. A broken knee cap can make you grateful for all the things that you might normally take for granted. Things like your wife, your children, the ability to walk, the ability to move about without pain, etc. Gratitude is probably the most beautiful virtue. It seems that perhaps I am being called to be more grateful and to express that gratitude better to God and others.
3) Maybe I’m not praying enough, not being attentive enough to the most important things in life. This injury has slowed my life down to a crawl. I have more time to notice beauty and praise God for it. More time to sit and drink coffee with Him. More time to talk and listen to Him quietly. More time to intentionally sanctify my thoughts, words, and actions. If breaking a knee cap is necessary to get me to do grow more intimate in my relationship with God, then how can I view it as anything other than a blessing?
4) Maybe other people need to grow in compassion. My situation has certainly elicited kind compassion from many people. Maybe they need this to become the beautiful people God calls them to be. Maybe my suffering helps them along in this way. Witnessing their compassion is very touching. My family is being so attentive and tender towards me. Friends and family in the community are reaching out just to be nice. Without my troubles, they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do these things. Their good spiritual muscles would not be getting as much exercise. So maybe it’s good for them.
“Let us understand that God is a physician, and that suffering is a medicine for salvation, not a punishment for damnation.” —St. Augustine