Monday, September 13, 2010
Sunday I visited my 81 year old father-in-law who has recently had knee surgery. He's been in a lot of pain since the surgery and is, understandably, very, very cranky. But worse than the physical pain he is feeling, is the emotional pain he is feeling because he cannot spend time gardening like he has done for the past 60 years of his life. He had been a landscaper all his life, extremely fit and active. After he retired, he spent every single day working in his garden. Even when he and my mother-in-law moved to a humble trailer home, they continued to maintain a beautiful oasis on their patio. So when my husband and I saw him yesterday, he could not stop talking about missing his garden. All the things that defined him as a person for so long were suddenly absent. With tears in his eyes, he talked about all the things he will not be able to do again.
We all experience adversity and obstacles in our lives, whether it be physical, emotional, relational, or otherwise. We cannot help but to look back with regret on things that are taken away from us. But we can also do something else in these situations that is much better - to change our focus from what we can't do, to what we CAN do.
Remember reading about Christopher Reeve's in The Spark book? Think of all the things he lost after his accident. Then think of all the things he accomplished despite losing those things. All because he focused his energy into what he COULD do.
So yesterday, all I could offer my father-in-law was the same reminder. And now I offer it to you: please, please, do not concern yourself about those things you cannot do. Remember all the things you CAN do. There are many, many wonderful gifts you can offer the world. Do not squander them on regret.
"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see theone which has been opened for us."