RA & Happiness: Finding Joy By Caring For Others
A middle-aged man sat slumped over in a wheel chair in the doctor's waiting room. I noticed an old wooden cane nearby. The man had huge, rough-looking hands. One of his lower legs was bandaged in gauze.
The man looked in my direction, and I smiled. "How are you, today?" I asked. The stranger lowered his head and mumbled something about waiting too long.
I studied the man. He had weathered skin. He was dressed in a farmer's attire. He wore overalls and well-worn, brown work boots. The sun had long ago etched a permanent scowl on this gentleman's face.
"Perhaps the doctor has a really sick patient," I suggested. I heard a muffled response, a kind of half grunt.
The man sat up straight, and picked up his cell phone. I heard him ask, "Are you going to bring the rent over today?" Apparently, the man in the wheelchair heard the response he wanted to hear. He disconnected the call, and once again slumped down in the wheel chair.
"What time is your appointment?", the stranger asked is a gruff voice. I looked up with a smile and said, "My appointment is at 1:40." He didn't skip a beat. "Mine was at 1:10", he grumbled!
It was 1:30 when a pleasant nurse came to the waiting room to take the man back for his appointment. This stranger was a big man. He struggled to get up. He rocked back and forth several times, and used the cane to finally raise his bulk out of the medical clinic's wheelchair.
I thought of the nurse and the doctor who would soon be seeing this gentleman. Anger and discontent filled the waiting room when he was there. It all disappeared as he left and walked back to the examination rooms. There was a palpable black cloud following the man down the hallway.
We are in the Christmas season, and I wondered why this man was so grouchy. I never saw him smile.
I understand that some people have a tough time at Christmas and Thanksgiving because they are missing loved ones who are no longer with us. Sometimes people are lonely because they have no family or friends. That is a tough situation. Still, I don't think that was this man's problem.
I have observed that some people are better at coping with life's ups and downs. Some people seem to have a smile for everyone and anyone. I think it must be because they are thankful for what they do have in their lives.
I know many people with chronic, painful illnesses. They do not dwell on what they cannot do or what they have lost. They are grateful for what they can do. They are "other-centered", and this seems to bring them joy and peace.
I have a friend in our church community who is in her eighties. She is constantly making me laugh. She inspires me. She makes me feel good. Jean is a lovely person. She is "other-centered".
I have another friend in the same church community, who has been through three operations on her ankle. The ankle has finally healed, and she is walking with a walker. She is out of the wheelchair.
Rosie is no longer in pain. This friend always has a smile on her face when she sees me. We hug and catch up on life. She is an amazing example of being grateful for the gifts God has given her.
I have thought of the gentleman in the doctor's waiting room many times since my appointment last week. My prayer for him this Christmas season is that he finds joy and peace in his heart. For that to happen, he will need to stop thinking about himself. Helping others is the key to true happiness.