August 23, 2016

Why can't I have what they have?

I got an email from my friend Nathan Ogden yesterday and with his permission want to share it here...

Last week I took my two youngest daughters into the mountains of Idaho to speak with a group of middle-aged, single adults near Garden Valley. Our fun evening filled with great discussions and hot cobbler was enhanced by the beauty of majestic pine trees and mountains. It doesn't get much better than that. My girls and I slept in a tiny old cabin with rickety bunk bed frames that showed signs of years of youth summer camps. I didn't sleep very well that night but it wasn't because of the brisk mountain air or because the bed was so skinny I couldn't roll over to relieve pressure on my hips. Every time my girls moved in their sleep (which for kids is all night long) the rusty metal springs screeched an annoying high-pitch that made me want to stand up, walk out the door and take my chances with the coyotes. But I still would give up hours of sleep and comfort for the memories that the three of us made. 
Woven throughout the evening of excitement and fun there was a big distraction. I mean it was really bugging me, and it's not the first time this has happened.
As much as I love the outdoors, ever since I have been paralyzed I struggle to be truly happy when I'm out in nature. If there's a small trail leading up a steep canyon, I want to start hiking it to see what’s around the next corner or over the next ridge. Or if I'm trying to teach my kids how to go off a big rope swing into the river, I have to verbally describe how to do it properly because I can't show them myself.
"Why does everyone else around me get to experience this but I can't!"
"I want to keep doing these activities the way I used to, this is so frustrating!"
"I'm sure some of these people have problems but at least they can physically enjoy what's all around them."
These thoughts raced through my mind throughout the night and into the next morning as we spoke about how to face our fears and quit using excuses in our lives. Then I had a serious reality check hit me! While giving my workshops I began asking searching questions to those in attendance about their fears, hesitations, and excuses they use that are holding them back from reaching their full potential. I was put in my place and humbled quickly by the stories I heard. Many of these amazing single adults have had their spouse pass away. Some had unfaithful partners causing difficult divorce. Others are in their 40’s without ever having the opportunity to get married. Some of these single parents have as many as five children they are trying to raise and provide for on their own. I remember one courageous woman who had five children and two of them suffer with expensive and time-consuming disabilities. Wow, I can't even imagine the stress, worry and exhaustion that must bring. 
All their stories of struggle, sacrifice, and survival were different but one common thought continually surfaced to the front of my mind. I am so blessed with the physical abilities I still have, my faith in God and His purpose, and that I'm surrounded by phenomenal family and friends. I may not be able to run down that little dirt trail or climb that tall pine tree with my children. But if I had the chance to trade my troubles and frustrations for someone else's, it would be wise to embrace what I've been given instead of complaining. I'm sure there are many aspects of my life I take for granted that others yearn to experience.
I challenge you all to appreciate the talents, gifts, and abilities you possess and be very slow to judge one another. Rarely do we know their full story.

"The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for." - J. Johnson


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