RUPTURED YET GRATEFUL 

Sports injuries are never expected.

That’s why they are so troubling and disappointing. Although the immediate pain of an injury can be excruciating, it is the subsequent change in lifestyle that is most difficult. Anyone who has had to take a break from playing because of an injury knows that reality.

On November 30, 2015, while playing indoor soccer, I ruptured my achilles tendon. With only two minutes left in the game, while running towards the ball, I felt as though a player from the opposing team kicked me with all their strength on the back of my right leg on my achilles. I immediately fell on my back and felt the intense heat. I pleaded with the ref to call a foul, thinking someone had taken a cheap shot. However, he repeated several times that no one was around me and he heard a “pop”. I knew something was seriously wrong.

The next day I saw an orthopedic doctor that specializes in foot and ankle injuries. After a quick examination, he easily determined that I ruptured my achilles tendon, which means it snapped in two. Two days later, my doctor made a four inch incision in the back of my leg and sewed my achilles tendon back together.

IMG_2065This was not in my plans. I expected to play the whole season with my buddies. I assumed I could play soccer with my two boys around the house anytime we felt like it. I thought I could dance with my two girls whenever we wanted.  I planned to drive to work the next day and the day after that and the day after that. I expected to walk on my own two feet to get ready for work. But none of this was to be.

 

I was dramatically reminded, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow,” (James 4:14).

Sports injuries are never expected.

Then the challenging part began…recovery. Recovery is just another name for “get used to a whole new life.” My new life meant asking people to drive me places. It meant hobbling up the stairs on my knees. It meant no longer being able to carry a cup of water to the dinner table. It meant sleeping with with a two pound hard plastic boot each and every night. It meant asking my wife and kids to help me put a sock on. The real challenge to the injury was the new lifestyle.

On one occasion I asked one of my sons how it made him feel now that I can’t play soccer with him anymore. Sitting in the same chair with me, he answered, “Sad. I miss playing with you.” I told him the same thing. Then we just hugged each other and wept together over the loss.

However, despite all the loss and 10-12 month recovery something else significant has happened. I’ve grown in gratitude.

The Bible says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy,” (James‬ ‭1:2‬).

The ruptured achilles has given me this opportunity for joy and gratitude. I’m thankful that my wife, so willingly, does the lion share of chores because I’m limited.  I’m thankful that my kids happily hold  doors open for me. I’m thankful that my friends will offer to take me to work. I’m thankful that I can take steps in my IMG_2111orthopedic boot. I’m thankful that I can shower unassisted.

Now I watch my boys play soccer with more delight than I use to. I’m even more happy for them that they can play. I’m happy to watch my girls dance around the living room, jumping and twisting. I won’t have the strength to be on my tip toes for quite some time, but they can do it now. It makes me happy that they are enjoying themselves. Although I can’t dance, I can watch and that has increased my appreciation for them and their abilities.

An acute sports injury is just the beginning of a new lifestyle. Lord willing, it’s a temporary season, but it’s a season of difficultly and dramatic change, nonetheless. Yet the potential for increased gratitude during that season is present.

So what’s your “injury”? What’s your current “inability” that came as a surprise? Has it slowed you down enough so that gratitude can increase? It sure can.

“We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment, ” (Romans 5:3-5).

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Bob Jennerich says:

    Hey Tony, Thanks for sharing your journey and most importantly, the things you are learning. There are lessons for us all here in that the things we love most or things we take for granted can be taken away in a moment. We need to learn to trust in God and not our own abilities. We are fragile yet He is strong and sees us through our darkest times. Praying for you brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeff Eslick says:

    Tony,

    Thank you for sharing your struggles with this challenge in your life…..it sure is a Blessing to me to see how you are dealing with it and to your family. I know they can’t wait to have you back on two feet (without the boot) and if you remember from a person who has had 8 left knee surgeries, the foot will never be the same, but it can be strong again…..DO THE REHAB! God has made & given us an amazing body to house the Spirit!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Clayton Shivers says:

    Tony, thanks for sharing this inspiring testimony. It’s great to see God working through this entire circumstance, and you being changed through it. Glory be to God!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Tony,

    Thank you for sharing your recent challenges and how it is changing you. My father had a similar surgery when I was in high school and I recall helping him as your family is helping you. As a son it is hard to see your invincible dad hurting. As a father of two boys now I shed some tears thinking of how hard it must have been to hear your son say he missed playing with you. I am praying for you and a quick recovery.

    Like

    1. Mike Adams says:

      Nice job with the blog Tony. Paul was effective while chained between two soldiers and you are also being effective with limited locomotion. I am convinced that you will play and dance once again.

      I’m sure that you are glad that you weren’t playing real football, never was quite sure that that European style football was a real sport anyway. I vote that you take up bowling.

      Your friends appreciate you and pray for your speedy recovery.

      In Christ,

      Mike Adams

      Like

      1. Thanks Mike! I appreciate the encouragement and humor!

        Like

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