Blessings in Disguise

I broke a toe.

To many, this would be the smallest possible mishap that could possibly occur in life.  A toe, a teeny-tiny little toe, was -very slightly – broken.  It didn’t hurt much.  It wasn’t a broken arm, a leg, or a life altering illness.  This injury was a simple thing, no cast required.  All I had to do to heal my little broken toe was wait.

But I struggled with this.  I seek out movement the way an alcoholic seeks out his next drink.  Usually, I feel like the type of person who can handle anything.  But I couldn’t deal with this.

 I craved running, walking, sweating, and feeling my heart beat fast.  First, I cut out running.  Then, I reluctantly gave up hiking.  And when the doctor said I really just had to stop and rest my foot for a week, I cut out the walking too. The less I moved, the more my mood sunk.

It’s laughable that something so small could throw me for such a loop.  As it turned out, movement was my lifeblood.  It was a powerful tool in my arsenal, one that kept me happy and sane.  When I was deprived of this outlet, life just felt kind of…blah.

After being off my foot for one solid week, I got a phone call from a friend.  He was going to be running a three-day charity hike in two weeks-time.  This desert trek was being held to raise money for a children’s physical rehabilitation hospital.  Would I come?

I told my friend that of course, I would love to.  But I had a broken toe.  I would have to wait to see how it healed.   “It’s no big deal,” I added, “But not being able to run and walk…that’s the worst!”

“Sure,” my friend commiserated, “It’s terrible.  That was the worst part for me too when I broke my leg.  But can you imagine how the children in our hospital must feel?”

My brain did a flip-flop.  As much as I already knew that a broken toe was hardly one of life’s big tragedies, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sorry for myself.  But when I stopped to think about the children’s hospital, how could I? 

Isn’t movement one of the essential parts of being a kid?  Isn’t running, jumping, and skipping a child’s lifeblood?  How could I be anything but thankful for my own charmed life – a life where the cessation of movement for the span of one week was my greatest challenge?

I guess my broken toe wasn’t even really a problem.  Rather, it was an opportunity: to gain a small bit of empathy, a tiny window into the world of hardship and challenge faced by others.  It was a chance to feel gratitude for my ability to move freely and with ease.  My toe helped me learn this lesson once again: life’s little mishaps can be blessings in disguise. 



You can support the physical rehabilitation of children with chronic illness in Israel.

Click here to sign up for the Alyn hike. Or click here to donate.

On last year’s hike for Alyn Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital, toes in perfect working order.

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