Posted by: Tom Gaddis | May 25, 2009

Life’s Interruptions

Untold suffering seldom is.  ~  Franklin P. Jones

Sue, stumbling off a curb and into our front flowerbed last Wednesday, found that she couldn’t put any pressure on her “sprained” foot without searing pain. Suspecting that something more was wrong we shuffled her from medical offices to exam rooms to x-ray machines until discovering that she had pulled a ligament off of two metatarsal bones in her foot which separated the bones. It is called Lisfranc Fracture Dislocation for those of you who like to look things up on the internet. So this week she will undergo surgery to put pins in her foot to join these parts back together.

The hardest part of this ordeal will be the three months in a wheelchair recovering the use of her left foot. And everyday we are running into more of the consequences of this misstep: we’ve had to cancel our trip to the Foursquare Conference in Anaheim this week, postpone visiting several churches we wanted to connect with, put off seeing a friend from Colorado, and forgo camping at Lopez Lake. We’re bummed.

Ah, life.

I think when life interrupts—tears apart—your plans and discards them like old Kleenex it sends us into reflection (Ok, depression for some of us). When this happens I always want to know why has this hardship, or suffering, or trial come into my life? But Sue, who’s far more mature, always ignores the why and asks the how question: How can I go through this difficulty with a Christ-honoring attitude?

Well, I’ve heard that this kind of attitude says, “No” to feeling sorry for yourself. Attitudes free of resenting life’s intrusions understand adversity to be an equal opportunity employer who never just singles you out by saying, “I’ll take you, but the rest of you—go on vacation to the Caribbean!”

Are you presently having an “attitude” going through some tough times or difficult days? Cussing your fate? Hating what’s happening to you and the struggles you have no control over?

Then maybe it will help your ‘tude if you’re reminded that we all live in a fallen and broken world where stuff—accidents, setbacks, injuries, overflowing sewers, betrayals, economic pressures, and dead car batteries—happens to us all.

Another thing they tell me helps if you’re to go through trials with some dignity, composure, and grace, is to remember what others have suffered—slow death by cancer, homelessness, betrayal by a spouse, concentration camp, torture, random violence, insanity. Such thoughts can soften your gripe.

Further, I’ve been told that going through hard times with a right attitude can actually work some positives in you. Difficulties cause us to know ourselves better. When we know ourselves better, we will deal more gently with others. Knowing our own issues we will reverence theirs. Awareness of our own failures creates awe of other’s successes. (Thank you to Joan Chittister for these words and thoughts.) Understanding ourselves we are less quick to condemn others, less arrogant, and more patient, more compassionate with the foibles, frailties, and fractures in others.

For instance, Sue mentioned to me that being in a wheelchair for half a week now has begun to make her aware—really aware—of what people go through for years who are confined to wheelchairs. Things she once took for granted—bathing, doing dishes, cooking dinner, making the bed or going to the aquarium are no longer a part of her skill set. (But they may become part of mine—double ouch!)

So thank you for your prayers for Sue’s recovery. God bless you—embrace you, teach you, and strengthen you—as you pass through soul-tearing or body-breaking circumstances.




  1. I appreciate you Tom! Your words are forever teaching words!

  2. I’m currently in this “space” over something that happened in Russia. Thanks for your good words which speak right into my need.

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