Wounds are scary, but wounds are a blessing. They are beautiful. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I'd share this story.
Volunteering is sometimes dangerous and it's not always easy - in fact, it's often not. It can be incredibly stressful and challenging, but in my opinion, that makes it all the more poignant and worthwhile.
About a month after my return from Africa, I noticed a terrible rash developing on my arm. Large red bumps began to appear and they were incredibly painful. I had a hard time agreeing to see the doctor because... well... I couldn't quite bear the thought that the children I taught could not receive good medical treatment and I could. It just wasn't fair. I could not bear it. But, it took me time to realize that it is a blessing that I can receive care and for that, I should understand it as a blessing and it put it good use. Truth is, it is not fair that some of us in this world may have things that others don't, but we must appreciate what we're able to have and see it as a gift; and we must give back. In this way, we can be our best selves and offer more to the world. We are no good to anyone if we are not good to ourselves. I've come to better understand that one.
I finally saw the doctor and it was suggested that it might be something from the children I was with every day. Something possibly permanent, which I'd then have to treat for the rest of my life. Not remarkably serious, but permanent none the less. Dozens and dozens of beautiful children climbing all over me every day, I never regretted a moment, but... it is true that we do not know all that the children carry. I began to accept the "worst" and understand it for what it was. "It could come and go," the doctor said. I called my family just to let them know about the situation and my sister's words... I will never forget...
"If this is the least of what those kids go through everyday, then it's good!" she said. I smiled. Could my family be any more amazing? She couldn't have been more right. Those wounds were a blessing! A beautiful reminder of how LUCKY I am to have what I have in this country. I can have the means to take care of myself, or treat myself, while these children are not able to do so -- if I have the LEAST of what they have every day, then I am BLESSED. I am LUCKY. It is a BLESSING. When challenges occur, we need to step back and understand them for what good they are - and when you can't see the good, you must put it in retrospect - you will find it, it's there, I promise - not a new concept, I realize - but it's true, we sometimes need a reminder.
After seeing several doctors, I learned what it really was. Shingles. "Shingles?" I thought. "How on earth did I get shingles?" It is most common in elderly people. "It was likely brought on from the stress of what you experienced, yes?" the doctor suggested. Ding ding ding. Ohh... yeahh... mental wounds. Forgot about that one. And it hit me how truly challenging the experience was. You put your life in danger. Literally. You risk your life. You see death, destruction, pain and that... well, it's hard. I suppose my body took it more than my mind was willing to. Mental scars and wounds... they, too, are a blessing; a wonderful blessing. They remind us that we're human, but we also live through them, don't we? And for that, we are strong.
It would have been easy to throw a pity party, "I traveled oh so far to help others and I get this?" Wah. Wah. It's easy to whine. It's easy to complain. It's easy to point out the bad and beg for mercy.
How about stepping back and saying, "This is all that happened? I am blessed! I. am. blessed."
We must challenge ourselves not to take the easy road; but to take the one set in gratitude.
We often ask God for so much. "Please let us win the game; please help this show to go well; please let me pass this test..." but, why can't we thank Him afterward? Thank you for the loss, so now I can understand the win. Thank you for the worst so that I may grow stronger. In gratitude lies so much. strength. and. compassion.
For my family, my friends, those children... I feel thankful every day, for all I have, and all I don't. Those children; so many, so wounded, but strong and happy. Grateful. We must understand how much we do have and be thankful for it. Life is a blessing. Our challenges, our struggles are a gift. And sometimes, what we think are struggles, really aren't after all. Step back and see how much you have. ;) Our greatest challenges, we can learn to overcome and use in a fruitful way to better life for one another.
What wounds are you grateful for?
Thank you for being here. I'll be back with more on the Maasai soon. I promise.
God bless and have a great holiday!