Growing up in my house, any serious complaints that I ever vocalized were usually met with a a reminder that there’s always someone worse off than me. So if I complained about the food I had to eat, I was told there were starving people in China. If I had issues with any of the clothes I had to wear, I got pointed out the homeless people on the streets who were missing shoes or shirts or jackets. During the times I got really sick and felt like it was the end of the world, I was reminded of those who were permanently disabled in wheelchairs or were dying in the hospitals with real diseases like cancer. Lately, when my physical pains lead me to higher levels of negativity, it seems that God has been giving me gentle nudges of this very same lesson that my parents tried to teach me.
At the gym the other day, when I was struggling to find the motivation to do any exercise, I saw a man in a wheelchair trying to do an arm only workout. There, I also saw another man having to be helped in and out of the pool with a crane who was unable to walk anymore on his own. And in another part of the gym, I saw a person that was close to 400 pounds trying to shed some of his weight in a small workout.
Last week I went downtown to Boston to watch the fireworks and while I was there, I got caught up for a moment in my head due to my bodily pain. But when I turned around, I noticed there was a quadriplegic person in a wheelchair using a blowing tube and an assistant just to watch the 4th of July display in the sky.
At the movies lately when I have been struggling to just sit there in my own pain, I have watched prior to the previews, a commercial air about very young children who have been battling cancer and are looking for support through the Jimmy Fund.
And in my recovery circles as of late, where I often am going to speaking engagements at places where people are trying to detox from their alcohol or drug addictions, I have been hearing stories from the people there about them being homeless, destitute, HIV+, Hepatitis C positive, or worse.
While my parents might have used a lot that cliche of someone always being worse off than me when I was complaining as a kid, there actually was a lot of truth to what they were saying. I may be hurting very physically right now in my life on most days, but I still do have a home to live in, food to consume daily, clothing to keep me warm, running water to bathe in and drink regularly, a car to get me to wherever I need to go, four limbs that still work enough to get me around on my own, and eyesight and hearing that are functioning to help me still see and hear things around me. Sadly, there are millions of people in this world who can’t say the same and I must continue to remember this, even in my worst moments when I just want to give up from all the pain I feel.
It may have been a saying that made me roll my eyes as a kid every time my parents reminded of those that didn’t have it as well off as me, but it’s truth has persevered throughout my life. God has continued to provide me with plenty, even in all my suffering, and I need to continue to remind myself of that, especially when I get caught up in my thinking about the woes in my life. In those moments, it is then that I need to remember that there really is always someone out there worse off than me.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson