Kindness will never go out of style
So there I was, lying face down in absolute agony. There was insulation and drywall stuffed up my nose and mouth. It was in my eyes and down my shirt. My lower back radiated pain so intensely I felt like someone was ringing it out like a damp towel . . . while it was on fire! I couldn’t see, breathe, or even think straight.
I had fallen down through my attic about 10 feet onto my kitchen floor and had broken my back in two places. And, oh boy, would I not recommend it! Ironically, I had entered my attic just a few minutes earlier with the very specific thought, “Make sure to be very careful, Sean. You don’t want to accidentally step through the drywall.” So, anyway, I accidentally stepped through the drywall.
Have you ever heard it said that time can slow down when you get in an accident? I’ve always been a bit skeptical of this. It sounds like an exaggeration. But I can personally attest that as I was falling time indeed did slow down (probably to 1/5th speed by my estimate). During that fall I had a very specific thought, “Sean, you idiot!”
It can be pretty disappointing what we think of ourselves when really squeezed on it. We should pay close attention to what comes out of our mouth whenever we are stressed. In Luke 6:45 Jesus taught that your mouth will eventually speak what your heart is most full of. And in this moment, I was using it to curse poor Sean.
Unfortunately I didn’t have my phone on me. Another “stupid” mistake. I needed to crawl to my bedroom and pull it off my desk (ouch). Then I had to crawl to my front door and reach high up (ouch) to undo my “stupid” deadbolt for whoever was coming to help me. Then I had to call a “stupid” ambulance, a decision I dreaded because I wasn’t sure how much money that would cost me! (OUCH!) Stupid, stupid, stupid. And here I was feeling like the stupidest of them all.
Hopefully you are starting to notice a pattern emerging here. Although my back was in bad shape, my attitude was a lot worse. Have you ever felt like this? Something goes wrong and immediately your arch nemesis becomes that person staring back at you in the mirror. Maybe if you weren’t so “stupid” or “ugly” or “worthless” or such a “failure” this painful experience would never have happened.
But according to Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus taught us the two greatest commandments we have been given is to love God, and to love our neighbor as we love ourself.
Pain can make us forget to be kind. I was in so much pain that I wasn’t even able to open my eyes the entire time the first responders arrived and got me into an ambulance. I never got a chance to see their faces. But I like to imagine they were wearing capes. They probably didn’t know it, what with all of the screaming I was doing, but they were my heroes and I was so grateful for their help.
Another person that I was very grateful for was a nurse that I briefly met in the emergency room. Let’s call him “Tom.” By 11PM, roughly 9 hours after my fall, I was still lying down on a bed as physicians attended to me and tried to bring down my pain. Eventually they were able to take the edge off enough that I could speak in full sentences. Right away, all I wanted anyone to know at this point was how thirsty I was! I’ll remind you that I had been spitting out little particles of insulation for a while now, plus I had been yelling as loud as I could like it was going out of style. Unfortunately, there was a strong possibility I would need surgery the following morning. Meaning no food or fluids for me.
I asked about half a dozen nurses for a bottle of water. Even though they felt really sorry for me, they all had to say NO. But then along came Tom. I asked him, rather pathetically, for just a tiny sip of water to wet my tongue so I could feel a little better. Tom came back a few minutes later with just a small spoonful of water that I could swish around.
Never has Matthew 10:42 been so relevant to me.
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward."
I have many more stories to tell about the adventure that is breaking your back. But for now, please remember that it is a blessing to our Heavenly Father when we are kind to each other. And don’t forget that you need to include yourself in that category. Even the smallest act of kindness, or just doing your job, can mean more to someone than you could ever know. But God will always know! And God will certainly remember the kindness that you have shown to Him, yourself, and especially others. In fact, the harder it is for you to be kind to someone, the more important it is to the Lord that you are.
Colossians 3:12 NIV
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Acts 28:2 NLT
The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us.
Ephesians 5:29 ESV
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.
P.S. I never did need to have that surgery. But the next day, after drinking several cups of water, I did find out the hard way how difficult it is to use the bathroom when you have a broken back.