Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Finding the Blessings in Trials

There is a man in my ward (church) named Stacey who is always smiling.  I mean it… I’m not exaggerating… he always has the most sincere smile on his face… and it’s contagious. 
Stacey has cancer. 
He was once a professional football player.
Now, he walks with the aid of a custom made pair of crutches.  His left leg is paralyzed and he has limited mobility in his right.
But he still smiles.
He’s in constant pain.  He has to go to the hospital everyday for treatment, and he’s often fed by I.V. because he can’t always keep solid food down.
But he still smiles.
Today Jewel’s family and I went to go and visit him, and bring his a Christmas present that we bought him.  He was a little late.  After his radiation treatment he always goes to the children’s ward and reads to them.  Today the kids kept begging for “one more book.”  How could anyone turn down such a request?
While we were talking today he said so many things that were so humbling and thought provoking for me. 
He’s grateful that he has cancer.
3 and a half years ago he was diagnosed with brain cancer.  I’m not sure of all the details, but somehow he lost the use of his leg.  He contacted a special crutches maker in Las Vegas to make him a pair so that he could walk.  He became good friends with this man, who was a Bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Stacey started asking him more about his religion, and after some time, Stacey was baptized a member of the church.
Today he told me that he is grateful that he got cancer, because it was the cancer that led him to the truth.
He has to get surgery on his spine again soon.  But he’s still smiling, and hopeful that it will help.
He told his doctor that he feels like sense he found the church he’s in a “win/win” situation.  He told them, “If you guys are able to help me walk again, then I win.  But, if I’m stuck with these crutches until I’m 90, I still win… because now I know what comes next.”
I didn’t realize how much I had taken for granted, until I heard this man I admire so much, tell me that he is grateful that he has cancer, because it let him to the truth.
I told him today that he was either going to laugh or be offended, but reminded me of my Great-Great-Great-Grandmother.  He laughed.  I told him that that is one of the highest compliments that I could give him, and I told him Florence’s story.  He got misty eyed, and I think Florence inspired him a little too.
For Christmas we gave him a book called, “The Fire of the Covenant”.  It is a book about some handcart pioneers like Florence did, but they met with disaster when winter came early and they were stuck in Wyoming with no winter gear and basically no food.

But, they kept the faith, just like Stacey.  I hope that he will be inspired by their faith on his bad days, and realize that like those amazing pioneers, he inspires so many around him with that smile that is ever present.
Click below to see a video that explains Stacey's story much better than I did.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foz1eaHRXjE

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