“Your ability to give thanks either opens the door to Heaven or shuts it.”
The paths our lives take are directed so much by thankfulness. Sometimes, being thankful feels like the most natural thing. Like that time I got hit by a car while cycling. The driver and his wife became my friends and started going to church because of the way I responded. I wasn’t actually trying to make anything happen. I was just concussed and grateful that I was okay.
But sometimes it’s harder to be thankful. Laying down my motorcycle (almost 2 years ago) was fine at first. I laughed, rinsed the wound, and rode the 2+ hours left to get home.
The bike was fine, so I was happy, and I didn’t look so bad either. But five weeks later, I was still in pain. I moved (okay… limped) slowly, and I got exhausted easily. I’m not too patient with myself, and I didn’t like that everyone stared when I walked past. For three weeks, I was traveling while feeling so weak and had to be hyperaware because I look vulnerable, like an easy target. I hated knowing that people were assuming a lot about me, especially that I was another -inexperienced- -tourist- on a -scooter-.
And those were my thoughts, but they were more than just my thoughts because they impact my attitude and my actions. So while people stared, I started to smile. Like the kind of smile that involves a warm heart and squinty eyes. Because for a while I tried walking down the street on my phone to distracted me from the stares, but it didn’t change anything. It didn’t help the situation, and it didn’t help my attitude.
What did help was smiling at people. When I started smiling, people asked what happened and remind me of how God protected me. In one city of 1.5 million, random shop owners remembered me after a 30 second conversation, and as I walked past the following days they asked if I was doing any better. One man on a scooter pulled over just to say that he wished he had a spare helmet so he could give me a ride. A Thai lady I met on the street sat me down and rubbed Tiger Balm all around my aching knee. And there’s the security guy at the hospital who did this goofy salute just to make me laugh every time I walked past.
I’ve realized in this process that I tend to be pretty positive, trusting that things will work out and be okay. But sitting in the hospital in Bangkok, not knowing when I’d get to go home or when I’d be okay again, I realized that my trust is misplaced. I really can’t trust that the situation will work itself out or that things will be okay. Things could go wrong, I could have lasting damage/pain, and I don’t really know what will happen. But trusting that God’s goodness and love remain true despite/amidst the circumstances is trust well-placed. Maybe my wallet will be emptied and the pain will remain, but my God won’t let me down. So I’m going to keep choosing to be thankful and choosing to smile. And you can be sure I’ll still be riding my motorcycle so long as I have one working leg 😉