Some of Jason’s earliest memories are of pain. As a child with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy, he endured surgery after surgery, long nights where he struggled for breath, and near constant pain. He recalled when he was six years old, lying in bed, questioning: “Why me? Why me?” At that moment, he made a choice, a decision that has affected the rest of his life. He recalls, “After I had a good cry, I woke up the next day and never thought ‘Why me?’ again.”
Now in his twenties, Jason has never lived a day without pain. He’s never slept a night without oxygen or a ventilator to keep him alive. He can’t walk. His body is so twisted and crippled that he can’t comfortably sit, either. So, when he’s not in bed, he stands with his walker almost all the time. Yet, he is one of the most happy and positive people I know. When I visit my friend Jason, he is more concerned about my welfare than his. He looks for ways to brighten the conversation and lift my spirits. He is a blessing to all who know him. Jason has chosen, in spite of his difficulties, to live life to its fullest, to be cheerful and happy. That is a lesson to you and to me.
If ever a person has a good reason to be angry and bitter, it’s Jason. His childhood disease gripped him suddenly without mercy. He didn’t do anything wrong, he didn’t choose this, it just happened. However, Jason knows that even though he is powerless to change his physical situation, he still has the ability to choose how he will respond to his difficulties. It’s a choice he made at six and one he continues to make every day of his life.
Recently I heard Jason speak to a group, where he made a remarkable statement. “I’m grateful for this body,” he said.
What?! A body that keeps him in constant pain? A body that can’t run or walk or even breathe on its own? A body that will never allow him to drive a car or play sports or have a family of his own? Yes! Jason has chosen to be grateful for his body because of what it has taught him about what is really important in life. He has learned to be happy, positive, friendly, and cheerful–no matter what.
Has something happened to you that wasn’t your fault? Is there some unfairness in your situation in life? Are you troubled by anger or resentment? Have you been offended or slighted or injured by someone else? It’s so easy to become bitter, to blame others or blame God for our misery, to be the victim. Take a lesson from Jason and just “let it go.” Choose to be happy anyway. Choose to be grateful for what your challenges have taught you. Choose the abundant life.