I once knew a woman who grew up in Oklahoma in a very poor family. She contracted polio around the age of five. The disease ravaged her tiny body leaving her spine severely twisted and one leg shorter than the other. By the time she was school age, the doctors had told her parents she would never walk. Determined not to be different, and though her family could not afford a wheelchair for her, she insisted on attending school, so her brothers pulled her behind them to school every day in a wagon.
She married at an early age. The doctors told her she would never be able to give birth and she desperately wanted to become a mother. Ignoring the doctor’s pleas, she became pregnant and in spite of their predictions, she carried the baby to full term and delivered a son, and later a beautiful daughter.
Though it would have been easy to give in to her circumstances and become complacent, bitter and complaining, though it would have been easy to become jealous of those around her who had more advantages, she pushed the dark thoughts from her mind and focused on the joy of what she could do instead.
Like the children’s story “The Little Engine That Could,” she refused to believe she couldn’t and she just kept trying.
Through the years, she never considered herself crippled or disabled in any way. At harvest time, she drove a hay truck for her brothers by using pillows to prop herself high enough to see through the windshield. As her children grew, she and her husband began transporting them along with others in the family to church every Wednesday and Sunday. In the summer she canned alongside the other women, never complaining, never slowing. She moved her mother and mother-in-law both in with her and, in
spite of her own handicaps, cared for them full time until their demise though they were in their nineties and had debilitating physical and mental disabilities.
Though she could have given up and become the invalid the doctors said she would be, she remained busy helping others and caring for the sick. Though she stood less than four feet tall, she was a tower of spiritual strength for everyone around her.
Like a seed that struggles against the darkness to become a beautiful flower, she refused not to be all she believed she could. She refused to live within the limits others placed on her. She refused to become an invalid and a burden to her family. She had too much to give to be limited by the small thoughts of others. She was a sidewalk flower.
While others retreat into dark places and never realize their full potential, sidewalk flowers do not wilt and die in the dry seasons of life, they put down deeper roots and draw more water to strengthen them. They spread out and embrace the darkness that surrounds them searching for the hidden treasures they know must be combined with the light to bring forth growth above.
One day you look and what at first appeared to be a ragged, spindly weed has become a tough stem of flourishing blossoms sharing its beauty and fragrance with all who come upon it. Some flowers emit an even stronger fragrance when the heat is on, increasing their beauty to the world around them.
Ignoring the hard circumstances, they just keep reaching for the light.
“We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, "Why did this happen to me?" unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way.” - Author Unknown
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