This morning I received an invitation to attend an event where Warren McDonald will be speaking. I had never heard of him before, so I went online and searched his name – and what I found gave me reason to question if I am truly thankful enough for the blessings in my life.
Warren was on a hiking trip in a remote area of Australia when a huge boulder fell on him and trapped his legs. His fellow hiker went for help – but help didn’t come for 48 excruciating hours.
As a result, he lost both legs. It became a turning point in his life – and he chose to make that turn in an upward direction, when it easily could have taken him down.
Now, after learning to walk with prosthetics, and having accomplished amazing physical feats (including climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro!) he travels the world, motivating and inspiring people to take whatever circumstances life gives them – and to find the opportunity therein and move forward with life. He proposes that in every tragedy there is also a chance for growth. He even says that if he could go back and change that event, he wouldn’t, because of the growth he has experienced since.
What is your tragedy? Have you lost a spouse? A child? A loved one?
Have you lost hope?
Can you see any way there could be an opportunity hidden in that tragedy?
My husband’s drowning was my tragedy. It has been for me a turning point. I am having to change and grow in ways I never would have imagined. Many days I complain and whine to myself. But watching a video of Warren McDonald this morning made me stop and think:
Is life all about getting through with the most ease possible? Finding the easiest path and staying there? Is that when I am most thankful, when things are easiest?
According to Warren, if that is so, I am missing out on the whole purpose of life.
Life is to be lived. We are here to grow, and progress, and to get all we can out of our few years on this earth – and then to give all we can to help others.
It has taken a tragedy to wake me up to that fact. And maybe, like Warren, I can be thankful that I have been awakened.
I am not sure I could ever say, like Warren does, that I wouldn’t change the past if I could.
However, today, the day when many people take time to give thanks for the good in their lives, I choose to be thankful for those who have overcome tragedy and who go on to lift and encourage the rest of us to keep going, to maintain hope, and to take that next step, no matter how terrifying or painful it might be.
I am thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who is infinitely patient with my complaints, and who brings other people into my life to show me how to face my tragedies with more grace and hope.
May this Thanksgiving be a day when you, too, can find things to be thankful for – increased courage, and hope, and healing.