I’ve had a lot of lessons in the past week about giving up. As newspapers and magazines shrink, so has my freelance work. What does it matter? I ask myself. My words won’t change the world. I put myself in the same category as my Grandma who liked to crochet covers for toilet-tissue rolls. She spent lots of time and energy on something that no one in our family used.
For our Lenten devotions our church published a compilation of members’ short stories. A mother told of spending hours and hours on her hands and knees hovering over her Down syndrome child. With a towel tied around his tummy and over her back, she taught him to crawl, using her hands to move his hands and her knees to push his legs forward. Hours and hours.
How her heart must have ached when she watched other children crawl effortlessly. What did she think when other mothers complained that their child was crawling into everything? She simply kept working. Hours and hours on the floor, never giving up. Today her child runs.
There is the story of Bill who hurt his ankle 7 years ago, now after 17 surgeries, learning how to clean fixator pins, manipulate electronic leg lengtheners, give intravenous antibiotics, and irrigate wounds, he can finally stand on his own two feet.
I sit and stand many times a day and never give a thought to how fortunate I am to do something Bill has worked on for 7 years.
Then there’s the story of Betty, who 14 months ago, stood up, and her aorta shredded with long tears from the heart to the fork in her legs. They put a pipe around the vessel, induced a coma, and put her in cold storage to heal. While in the coma, she had a stroke. No one expected her to live. But she did. Her only goal now is to get out of her wheel chair and walk. They’ve told her it’s not possible; her heart can’t take it. She had to sell her house to pay for medical bills. The convalescent center is her home now.
That’s okay by her because it allows her to spends hours and hours working on getting stronger. Last week, suspended in a harness (so she wouldn’t fall), Betty has worked up to 300 tiny steps on a treadmill. She didn’t give up.
From these stories I’ve learned that sometimes we put a lot of work into things that are only important to us. No one else really cares. Others may even discourage us. But these seemingly small goals are part of a bigger plan.
A plan that encourages others. Gives them hope. Gives them words that keep them from giving up. A plan that encourages us to keep working toward our small goals: To write, sing, knit, garden, walk, or crawl. To let our lights shine.
Our stories are part of His plan. And that keeps me writing…it might just change the world.
What are the words that keep you from giving up?