Just Thinking


I want to write a new article, and I have two started. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to pull my thoughts together to finish either one of these papers in progress. As I write one sentence, my mind suddenly jumps to a related idea but one not actually pertinent to that place in the article.

My inability to think clearly and my lack of motivation to accomplish another writing goal results from my recovery process for bilateral knee replacement surgery on Dec. 16. During the first five weeks, I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I tried three different pain medications before my doctor found the right one to manage my pain.

If you’ve had major surgery that required rehab and narcotic medications for pain, you will know that our bodies do not react well to the trauma of drastic surgeries. Pain and medication tend to create other medical problems that can cause inconvenience and depression.

Luckily, I have discovered some ways to mitigate my depression on down days. As strange as it sounds, my physical therapist lifted my spirits as I faced several months of painful rehabilitation. His decision to share stories of his family distracted me during especially painful therapies. 

Thirty-three-year-old Jared has his doctorate in physical therapy. Though small in stature, Jared exudes energy and optimism. He told me at the beginning of treatment that the rarity of bilateral surgery meant a very tough rehab would follow. 

What a terrible job he faced! He just told his seventy-one-year-old patient (me) that he would have to hurt me on purpose. If he had promised me that it would hurt him more it would hurt me, I would not have believed him.

Jared’s philosophy of rehab is to push hard, to push to the limit. He sets ambitious goals because he wants to see his patients succeed. At the same time, he knows how to discover the personal interests of his patients so he can relate to them and, hopefully, distract their minds from their pain.

Jared’s energy, vitality, and enthusiasm for life have lifted my spirits in this time of political upheaval, world-wide pandemic, and economic hardship for so many people around the world. I needed Jared’s outlook to push me out of my funk and into the other reality that many people experience daily.

Another welcome diversion that brightens my otherwise dreary days comes from my son, Jason. He asked me to preview a Lenten series he has written for Menokin Baptist Church in Warsaw, Virginia. Jason has pastored this church since the summer of 2008 and has become part of their church family.

His church has a diverse membership; members include traditional Baptists while others prefer the formality of the liturgical calendar and traditions. Jason loves the ritual and formality associated with this liturgical calendar, so he works hard to make his services relate to their origins within the church.  One such event, Lent, began on Ash Wednesday, February 17.

Churches have various ways to illustrate the importance of Lent to their members. Jason has created an original way to celebrate Lent in his church this year. He has selected various individuals who have died during the twenty-five years of his ministry and has written a brief Lenten devotional to illustrate a life lesson he learned from each one.

Reading these memories and lessons from people, many of whom I knew, has impressed me with the importance and blessing of looking for that “God spark” that exists in each of us.  We can learn and appreciate something of value in all individuals, whether they are known for their kindness and lovability or their sauciness and curtness.

As I continue my journey of healing and rehabilitation, I have discovered that I can learn so much from others around me who forge ahead with their lives and their own struggles. Lent provides a time for reflection on the truly important aspects of life. 

From Jared, I remembered the importance and joy of youth and the excitement of the future. It’s easy to become jaded as we get older. We sometimes use the glib expression “been there, done that.”  I need to ban that thought from my mind and participate in the joy and anticipation of those who have their lives ahead of them.

From Jason’s reflections, I remembered the importance of considering the whole person. We find it easy to judge and harshly dismiss unpleasant people. Whether in my family, my job, my church, or my social groups, I need to look for the God spark in that person. 

As I consider Lent, I hope to think of all those around the world who suffer from so many ailments. The year 2020 has taught me that even in this big world of ours, we share humanity. We all need sustenance, employment, health, community, and love. I feel blessed to have all these necessities. I aspire to sacrifice so others may enjoy the same blessings I have enjoyed.

 Nancy Patrick is a retired teacher who lives in Abilene and enjoys writing


  • Sandy Parish-Tompkins

    II loved this article and I can so relate to a lot of this but not the extreme pain you talk about from your knee surgery. I pray that the remainder of your recovery is better and you are completely healed and can get back to what you enjoy doing. I love you and pray you and Mike are doing well.


  • Good article, Nancy. Thanks for posting.


  • Thank you, Nancy, for your willingness to speak of pain and depression due to having many aspects of your life “benched” for a season due to surgery and rehab. I love how you demonstrated by your own choices the value of looking for the “God spark” in others. Your decision to override the pain by listening to others’ stories and appreciating their gifts inspires me (and probably many) to “…lift our drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees…” and continue the journey with grateful hearts! I pray your recovery is swift and complete!


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