> Spirituality > Personal Growth

My Broken Ankle

November 16, 2016 | by Sherri Mandell

Despite everything I’ve gone through, this is a big deal to me. I’m a wimp and I’m terrified.

I have fallen and broke my ankle. I need an operation – pins and plate.

It’s just an ankle, right? But when it’s your ankle, it is not so simple.

My son says, “Katan alayich – it’s small for you.” After all the trouble you’ve had – a son murdered by terrorists. Fifteen years ago, my 13 year old son, Koby, was murdered by terrorists. So I know suffering.

Despite that, my broken ankle is not so small to me.

And my recent book is called The Road to Resilience. I have to laugh! Here I am and I am not so resilient. I am a wimp. I am terrified.

So in the hope of giving myself (and maybe others) some courage, I’ve been thinking about the lessons of a broken ankle.

1. Take the gifts that God sends you.

When I’m in the hospital before the operation, I pray with more kavana (intent) than I have had in a long time. I pray for my healing and I pray for the healing of all the people of Israel and I pray for my friends who are sick or ailing. Why does it take a fall to push me to pray? I speak to my rabbi and he says, “Don’t worry about if it will last or if it’s real. Just take the changes and appreciate them, use them now.”

2. Look your mortality in the eye.

In the operating room you are stripped of everything. You lie there shivering in a stark white room and the lamps over your narrow operating bed look like giant prehistoric jellyfish and you pray that you will survive this. Sometimes we need to strip ourselves of our pretenses and our illusions. To look at yourself as if you stand on the brink. Much as we hate to admit it, we always stand between life and death. Life is infinitely precious.

3. It is okay to ask for help.

I asked a friend, “Make me zucchini.” It was so hard to ask. But I did. Sometimes we have to ask directly for what we want. We can ask God that way too. We are so in need. A friend who was in dire circumstances told me that at some point he said to God: This is too much for me. I’m giving it to you.

4. The world is built on acts of kindness. 

Every soup and quiche gave me a message: We care about you. We will take care of you. You are not in this alone. My community has showered me with kindness.

5. You will appreciate.

No matter how much it feels like we are in a tight spot, a bind, a painful situation, there is always something to appreciate. Be grateful for being alive. When I went out for the first time after the operation the air, the trees, the sky – they all seemed like a miracle. But most important of all, I experienced gratitude for my spouse and children. Thank you Seth!

6. You are given compassion so that you can give compassion.

I will never look at a person in a cast in the same way. Or a person in a wheelchair. Or a person with a walker. I will try to help more, to be more compassionate, to go out of my way to bring a soup or a casserole.

7. It’s a wake-up call. So wake up.

God gave you a kick, maybe even a wake-up call. I have to work against my complacence, my laziness, my ability to forgive myself so easily. I have to do more, give more. It’s true that my husband and I created the Koby Mandell Foundation where we have helped thousands of bereaved children, but I have not done enough in my own community.

8. If you can, try to stop worrying.

If you’re like me, you’ll keep worrying no matter what. I am an anxious person. But know this: What you are worrying about probably isn’t what will hurt you. And great happiness comes when you least expect it. So have a little faith. Or a lot.

9. You are not in charge.

For the time being I can’t walk; I’m in a wheelchair. I see how the world diminishes when you are in a wheelchair. How dependent I am. I had to ask total strangers to help me in the bathroom near the emergency room because my husband couldn’t go in there with me. God is making my dependence manifest to remind me that I am so dependent on Him. You think you are in charge? Forget about it. Instead open yourself up to viewing each day as a mystery and unfolding miracle.


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