As much as I encourage you to open new and challenging opportunities in life by having a default answer of “Yes”, I must also raise the caution of the cost of saying yes. In other words, there is much wisdom in counting the cost, in understanding – or at least being willing to accept – what consequences we might face, as a result of that Yes.
This is a crucial step in our journey through whatever that Yes brings us. If, after weighing the cost, you decide you are willing to pay it, proceed. If not, choose something else to say yes to.
Before I left for my first visit to the Gaza Strip, I explained to my children that not everyone who goes there comes back. The risk to my life was real and yet, my purpose for going was worth the risk. How else was I to bear witness to the truth?
At that point, I had no idea what lay ahead, but I knew, weighed, and accepted that it could cost me my life. It could have cost my children their mother; but to walk our path with integrity may mean that such risks must be faced, and it may mean that we walk a shorter and more solitary path than expected.
When I was struck by illness, I didn’t die. Instead, my brain and body were ravaged and left helpless. I woke up from the coma to find that the only things I was capable of doing were thinking, seeing, hearing, tasting and feeling – but no movement at all. My physical and mental abilities to speak were greatly hindered.
After being awake for some time and regaining movement in my arms, I found myself contemplating some of the more practical aspects of my condition. I couldn’t get up to go to the toilet, couldn’t even make it to a commode. Now what?
I slowly moved my hand to my body and discovered that I was wearing a diaper. I had been a healthy, active 45 year old woman and now, I was wearing a diaper. And that wasn’t the worst part. I didn’t have enough strength to do anything for myself so I had to call a nurse every time I needed to be changed.
I thought that was humiliating enough. I knew that the fact that I had come from Gaza put me in a position to possibly be discriminated against by some of the Israeli staff. (There was just one nurse that I was sure of. Everyone else was very professional and treated me well regardless of what they may have thought)
My first goal was to be capable of changing my own diaper. It was difficult, tiring and time consuming, but I was determined.
It was then that I discovered heartache on top of my humiliation. When I reached down to clean myself, I found that my skin felt like tree bark; thick, rough and hard.
Even though the man who called himself my husband was there and kept posting on Facebook about his undying love and diligent care of me, I realized that neither he, nor the nurses had provided me with the personal care I needed. I learned that he kept telling the nurses not to worry because he was taking care of me.
No one had brushed my hair. I finally had to ask a nurse to cut out the impossible snarl at the back of my head. I kept hearing this man repeatedly telling the nurses not to do anything for me because he would. But he didn’t.
When I needed help taking a shower, he told me that his feelings would be hurt if I asked for help so I waited. Finally I had to ask for help. The nurse on duty was the one nurse who made it clear that she didn’t think much of me. She pushed my wheelchair into the shower stall and hosed me down like I was a farm animal tied to a fence. I wasn’t yet able to raise my arms to cover my face so all I could do was sit there naked, sputtering and trying to turn my head while she pointed the hose straight at me.
More humiliation and more helplessness.
He kept telling me not to get help from any nurse for my next shower because he would help me and he kept telling the nurses not to worry about helping me – but I found out later that he was off “making a new friend” instead.
I sat on my bed, willing my arms back to life. I still couldn’t fully raise them but I didn’t need to. All I needed was for my fingertips to reach across the top of my head. Once I achieved that, I took my first shower alone. It took over an hour, left me completely exhausted so that I slept for hours once I got back to my room – BUT I was happy and proud of my huge accomplishment!
Does “yes” require a price? Yes. Sometimes that price is easy, but sometimes it’s hard.
Sacrifice isn’t a reason to say no, but it is a reason to stop and think.
I don’t regret my yes. Count the cost, so you can boldly embrace yours.
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