But Then, the Man With One Leg.

When Peter saw him (the disciple whom Jesus loved), he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow Me.”

John 21:21-22

With my youngest daughter being in school during the day and in ballet most evenings, it’d been awhile since we had a good talk, the sweet kind where she shares her heart and I listen with a gentle and affirming nod to encourage more openness. The non-confrontational kind of talk where she’ll listen to my jokes, the ones I insist are hilarious, though they are repeatedly received with an eye roll and a Mom, really?’’ 

Me: Have you seen the movie ‘Constipation’?

Gullible listener: Uh, no. Can’t say that I have.

Me (with a snort, slapping my leg): It hasn’t come out yet.

Now, that’s funny! 🙂 

Anyone?

Okay, nevermind…

So now that school’s out for the summer, my daughter’s brain has released bits and pieces of private thoughts, born from the safe places in her adolescent heart.

She’d been struggling with an aspect of her physical appearance. No big deal, really, but to her, monumental

While listening, I pulled into the mall parking lot and approached the front entrance, looking to turn down a lane for an open spot. My daughter stopped her self-critical ranting mid-sentence when her eyes landed on an older man in a wheelchair beside his car near the curb. A woman rounded the back of the car to assist him.

From his upper thigh, he was missing his right limb. 

My daughter’s response took hold of me. “And then, there’s a man with only one leg.”

Translation: I have nothing to complain about.

We went on to discuss how the things we’re unhappy about, that which God has ‘zapped’ us with, the ‘lot we’ve been given’, seems too unbearable, too unfair, too horrific. Not enough. 

Oh, the cruelty of being placed in a world filled with clear-complected, air-brushed faces, and impossibly thin bodies. Until God puts a man with only one leg in a girl’s line of sight and yanks her perspective right back where it belongs.

Poor, poor, one-legged man, right? Not so quick. 

Maybe the man considers himself blessed he’s not like the guy who lost his wife to cancer.

And the guy who lost his wife to cancer, but is able to maintain his job, might consider himself blessed he’s not like the man who lost his job because of mental illness.

Wonder if the guy who lost his job due to mental illness considers himself blessed that he’s not like the guy whose kid is incarcerated because she couldn’t overcome a drug addiction?

Wonder if the girl behind prison bars ever gave consideration to how blessed she is that…

See where I’m going with this?

Depending on my perspective, I may or may not be willing to take the gift of suffering entrusted to me and honor God with it — whether it’s a bad breakout right before my 16th birthday party or wayward children or incurable cancer or divorce or terrorist attack on my family members.

But God knows. He’s engineered it all.

His all-seeing eye is on me and the man with one leg.

If asked, the one-legged man might consider himself mighty blessed given what other people have suffered. Then again, he might just be a bitter old coot.

The bigger question is this: what’s my attitude toward the suffering God has allowed? Am I willing to embrace it? Given my trials and tribulations, what might others conclude about where I put my trust? Do they see the strength of Almighty God in impossible circumstances?

They should. Because my faith and trust in His goodness, purpose, and plan isn’t limited by the number of legs I have.

As an aside, I asked my daughter, “Just how do I get a picture of a man with one leg (for this week’s blog)?”

“You don’t,” came her clipped response. 

So, I didn’t 🙂

5 Comments

  1. Beverly DeBonis says:

    🙂

  2. Meleah Heavner says:

    Hello, Mary. I actually just sent an email to you that touches on this topic. As someone with a disability, I have to say that one of the most meaningful questions that someone asks me is, “What are you doing?”. Especially given the amount of time I’ve spent off my feet, it means every bit as much to me as, “How are you doing?”. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate anybody’s concern for my physical well-being, but half the battle is the mental hurdles, including the difficulty in finding ways to feel productive, seeking joy in each day, focusing on being thankful but, at the same time, not being self-absorbed. For every time that someone makes a point not to make assumptions, sees me as a 3-dimentional individual…I have to say, that is such a gift. Every time someone asks, “What are you up to?” it’s so encouraging. Because what it tells me is that, if anything, that person assumes there’s more to me than meets the eye and whatever I’m doing is of value or they wouldn’t be interested. It’s one reason why I think a great story might start with someone who’s in a coma, maybe they hear everything going on around them and play an essential part of solving a mystery by blinking a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Or maybe we never hear from them, but the situation in itself, the mere fact that there is this person who exists who’s in a coma, has a profound affect on those around them just by their bodily presence. It’s also a reason to be passionately pro-life. Because a person has value and is an individual simply because they exist. What a great post! Such a wonderful example of why it’s important not to make assumptions and that each of us is an individual with a free will.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      You do have a first hand and personal perspective on disability. I appreciate your taking the time to share your heart. Sounds like the Lord has given you a great story starter. I encourage you to write the story He’s given you. It’s healing for the writer and the reader.

  3. Margaret Eomurian says:

    Mary,
    We never know how many people are watching how we respond when we go through trials, especially when they know we are believers. Our responses can either ruin our testimony or open the door for a conversation about the soufce of ouf peace in suffering.

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