Ten feet

More of the story from Rich Dixon:


Last time, a kid said the right thing at the right time, and everything was okay.

That’s not the warm fuzzy ending, because Relentless Grace isn’t a Hallmark movie. The classroom scene was a flash forward. We’ve skipped some key characters. We’ll get to them, but first – ten feet.

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At some point, my therapists challenged me to push my chair ten feet without stopping.

Ten feet! Despite the obstacles created by the heavy, bulky chair, it’s difficult to believe I struggled to move ten measly feet.

I wasted weeks not-accomplishing this goal. How hard could it be? The shiny, waxed tiles marked one-foot squares. I’d count out ten of them, and off I’d go. Time and time again I’d roll two or three feet and stop. I just couldn’t do it.

I weighed about 185 pounds when I fell. Due to inactivity and the bout of pneumonia, my weight plummeted more than 45 pounds. My arms resembled sticks, and the clumsy, heavy halo brace restricted movement and made me top-heavy. Combining these real obstacles with my lack of effort, ten feet might as well have been ten miles.

Doctors, nurses, and therapists tried to help me regain badly needed strength, but I put more effort into complaining about discomfort and difficulty than into actually doing the work.

Day after day I struggled and failed. I’d use any available excuse to avoid the work. When nobody was watching I’d just sit and stare out the window or pretend to contemplate the artwork. I groaned and moaned and grunted and strained and made a great show of trying hard, but ten feet was too far!

The therapists encouraged and cajoled, became irritated and impatient, but they couldn’t force me to push through my lack of faith.

They couldn’t force me to find hope where I saw only hopelessness.

To be continued…