Trials are inevitable obstacles on our mortal journey. My friend Becky Keogh, from Dundee, Scotland, shares her thoughts on how she’s come to view one major life trial as a blessing. Her words remind me to look at trials as an opportunity for growth, just like she did.
Lessons Learned from a Pair of Crutches
By Becky Keogh
For three years now (except from a few months here and there) either one or both of these crutches and/or a moonboot have been my constant companions. When I first got hurt and ended up on crutches, I could never have predicted two things: 1. How long I would be on them and, 2., the lessons I would learn from being on crutches.
It has definitely not been an easy three years and my physical health has affected my mental health much more than I would care to admit. I never realized how much I took for granted something as simple as walking and getting around until I couldn’t do it without help. My limited mobility took away my independence as I couldn’t get anywhere without help.
It left me feeling like so many things were taken away from me. I could no longer exercise like I used to. I had to drop out of college. I couldn’t just go for a walk. And photography became so difficult with the crutches making it so hard to do it in the way that I wanted and was used to. I felt like my life was slowly being taken away from me. Dramatic I know, but it is how I felt.
End of the Road in Sight
It took many trips to doctors and physiotherapists, some scans and visits with specialists until finally a few weeks ago I got a diagnosis meaning I finally know what is going on with my ankle and why I have had so many problems with it. This has really been a turning point and it has given me hope that I would one day be without crutches.
I have probably still got a decently long road ahead of me, but at least now I will be seeing the right specialists and getting the right treatments which is already starting to make a difference. The treatment should only continue to improve the pain in my ankle. This means that in the next few months, I should no longer need crutches or any assistance to walk. And hopefully, it will be for good this time and life will get back to normal, or at least as normal as life ever is.
With the end of the road in sight, it has caused me to think back on the last three years and I have realized I have learned so many lessons. The first of these lessons, and perhaps one of the most important, is that even when things are tough and it can seem like they are falling apart, there is still so much to be grateful for. Through it all, I have been surrounded by my amazing family and friends, who may not always understand how I feel but have always been there for me no matter what. What a blessing that is.
Notice the Small Victories
I have come to realize the importance of not giving up, even when it seems like the easiest thing to do, and the importance of small victories. It is the small victories that gave me the continual small boosts I needed to keep going and trying to move forward in whatever way I could. It was those small victories that have kept me going.
I learned the importance of finding joy. Years ago, the quote “find joy in the journey” came to mean a lot to me and as I think about it in the context of the past three years, it has become even more poignant to me. Finding joy is far from the easiest thing to do in hard times but I have come to learn how key it is to life.
We are not here to be miserable or down or to feel hopeless. We are here to have joy—no matter what our circumstances. And it’s not always easy, but it is always worth the effort to that joy. It is a lesson that has taken me a long time to learn but I am so grateful for it because when I look for joy in my life, I can always find it and it completely changes how I feel.
Sometimes our priorities get messed up and when we are struggling that happens even easier, but through this trial, I have learned just how important it is for me to keep my priorities in order. It took me a long time to learn this lesson but I have learned it in a big way.
My relationship with my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ and keeping that relationship strong is now, and should always be, my top priority. My family and friends and personal relationships come next as those are the people who are always there for me and who I love more than anyone else in the world. My third priorities, at this time in my life, are my education and photography because this is where I hope my professional future lies. As I put my priorities in the correct order and live accordingly, I know that I will find that joy in and that even with the struggles that come, life will be good.
Patience is another lesson I learned in a big way, although I am still far from perfect in that area. There have been times when I have become so impatient with the doctors and physios for seemingly not being able to help me, impatient with myself and my body for not healing or behaving like it should and, as ashamed as I am to admit it, impatient with God for not taking my trial away or making my life easier in some way. That impatience didn’t help the situation in any way. In fact, it only made the situation worse because it made me feel worse.
It’s funny how patience is usually learned in times when we have no other choice than to be patient. Being impatient didn’t help me in any way. It didn’t speed up the process of the doctors figuring out what was going on with my ankle. It didn’t help me deal with the situation any better. In fact, it just made the whole thing harder and made me miserable.
As I came to understand this and started trying to be patient, I came to understand why it is so important. Patience doesn’t necessarily change a situation but it changes our view of the situation, which in turn makes it easier to handle.
When There’s Distance from Heavenly Father
Through it all, I think the hardest, but most important lesson I learned is that when I feel distant and removed from my Father in Heaven and Savior that it is my fault. There have been many times over the past three years I have felt that distance and it has never completely disappeared. Sometimes that distance had been huge and at other times it has been relatively small, but I have come to realize that it has always been me who has put that distance there.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have never moved or distanced themselves from me in any way. In reality, they have always been there and they want to help me through. They want the best for me and are just waiting for me to turn to them and close that distance.
As I have done this, made the effort to turn to them and take the steps to close that distance, I have felt Their love and peace in my life. I have felt a strength that comes from nowhere else in my life and it has helped me have that patience and determination to keep going.
I have learned the importance of doing the small things, such as prayer and scripture study, so that distance doesn’t grow or even develop at all. My relationships with both my Father in Heaven and my Savior are something I need to always be working on so I can keep them strong, because the stronger my relationship with them the easier I can handle the trials that come my way. But most importantly, I will be able to keep those relationships strong and that is so important to me as I love my Heavenly Father and Savior so much.
There are many other small lessons I have learned through this journey, and it has been a hard one, but I am grateful for every lesson I have learned. I find it interesting that some of the most important lessons we learn in life come through some of our greatest trials. It amazes me that we have a Heavenly Father who knows us, knows me, so well that He knows exactly what I need to happen in my life to learn the lessons I need most.
I am grateful that I have a Heavenly Father who knows and loves me enough to put me in situations or circumstances where I can learn those lessons I so desperately need and in turn have the opportunity to become a better person—a person closer to the person I have the potential to be.
Metal and Plastic Become Blessings
Who would have thought you could learn so much from two pieces of metal and plastic. I thought ending up on crutches was a nightmare and being on them for so long just made it worse. I could never have imagined that I would learn so much and actually come to the point where I am grateful for those crutches and all they have taught me.
I can now see that this whole thing has been a blessing in disguise, although if I am being completely honest, it is an experience I am glad is hopefully coming to an end. But I hope and pray I never forget the lessons I learned and the way they have changed my life.