It's The Little Things That Make A Difference
A few months ago, I replaced my power chair due to outdated software and a lack of replacement parts available for the old chair. Changing wheelchairs is not a simple process. After ten years in the old chair, it felt like it fit like a glove. Ten years of technology changes, model updates and in this case an entirely different make of chair, produces a number of adaptation issues.
Over the past couple of months, I've been servicing the new chair to meet my specific requirements. We recently made the final adjustments—tweaked the arm rest, footrest, software for chair tilt and recline abilities. I can't tell you how excited I was when I returned home with all of the functions set at a level that accommodates my needs. Each change was minimal, yet those tiny changes made a dramatic difference to my comfort and ability to live independently. Reflecting on this process, I realized that most actions with big impacts are small in comparison. A smile here, a handshake there, can change a person's outlook on life. It can make a huge difference in how their day may progress. One thing that comes to mind was the night I was diagnosed with transverse myelitis. It felt like my entire world was shattering around me. At the time I lived alone, and I wasn't sure how I was going to get through that night let alone the rest of my life. I reached out to a friend who was a staunch supporter of mine and blubbered over the phone about the direction my life was taking and the uncertainty of it all. My friend not only listened and sympathized but also offered to come over and spend the night with me. She had two young children, so I didn’t want to disrupt her life. However, I knew her offer was genuine and would require a certain sacrifice on her part. Her simple offer to be by my side during such a difficult time gave me the strength I needed to get through the night.
Throughout the years those offers of kindness have pulled me through every trial I've encountered. We may not always be able to relieve the pain or the complications in our loved one's lives, but our simple gestures of love and support have more of an impact on our friend's lives than we can ever imagine.
Our actions and attitudes can also impact stranger's lives. The Lord brought this to my attention a few years after my diagnosis. The high-rise I worked in housed several different offices of various companies. Needless to say, my daily travels to and from work involved frequent elevator rides and adventures (elevator doors close faster than a woman with a cane can walk). Though frustrated, I tried to keep a good sense of humor through all of my elevator mishaps--especially in front of perfect strangers.
Most of the time I was just trying not to breakdown into a sobbing mess but apparently my stalwart attitude in the face of so many challenges made an impression on one of the elevator passengers. Unbeknownst to me he was attending a marriage counseling group with one of my coworkers. In one of the sessions, he brought up the subject of "a woman in his building" who displayed a good outlook on life despite her challenges. He shared with the group that the woman inspired him and helped him recognize that in comparison his challenges were minor, and he could face them as such. My coworker knew he was referring to me.
It was quite a blessing to be shown through random circumstances what a difference my attitude had made and could make in another person's life. It fortified me with confidence to continue to face my trials holding my head up and by demonstrating the strength of my Savior through my actions and positive behavior.
We can all use a little lift in our lives now and then. Don't underestimate the power of a kind word or positive attitude. While greeting friends and strangers let your eyes sparkle and your face shine. You may just brighten their day a little and maybe brighten yours as well.