All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Feet

By Tom Gilson Published on December 24, 2018

All I want for Christmas is my two front feet. Well, actually — trusting you’ll forgive me for playing with a headline that way — what I want is to have my feet on the ground again. I mean that in the spiritual, emotional and relational sense.

I can’t expect that to happen literally, as I’m wearing a cast on my right foot that won’t come off until after Christmas, then there’s still more recovery to come. I don’t really get my two “front” feet back for another few weeks. 

This was my sixth foot surgery, all due to too much bone in my feet, a congenital condition that’s damaged some tendons. So I’ve had enough practice, you’d think I’d have learned all the lessons there are to learn about it by now. I should have my two spiritual feet on the ground, so to speak. Sorry, but no.

Lesson 1: Let It Go

I could have learned the first lesson decades ago — the easy way, by watching someone else’s example.

My friend Chuck had a son with serious kidney problems, starting at a very young age. Chuck and his wife, Arlene, got to know several other parents on the pediatric kidney ward. Some of them, Chuck told me, made it through in basically healthy emotional condition, despite their pain. Other parents were walking meltdowns. The biggest difference he saw between the two groups was whether they could release control.

It wasn’t about being passive. Chuck and Arlene studied up on the treatments, and watched the doctors and nurses like a hawk — but they were willing to accept whatever might happen as an outcome.

What real control did they have, anyway? Their son was in God’s hands, and for them, it was all about trusting him to the God who loves us all. 

The Lesson Not Yet Learned

That’s the lesson I could have applied after my visit to the doctor’s office last week. I went there to get my cast replaced. That’s just necessary from time to time. When he’d finished, I knew immediately that he’d put it on wrong. I’ve worn more than a dozen of these casts; I know how a cast is supposed to feel. So I told him I didn’t think it was right. He answered, “No, this cast is perfect.” 

I couldn’t believe he used that word. I couldn’t believe he was so sure I didn’t know what I was talking about. It made me angry. But he had the power to decide, and that was that. I’m stuck in this cast for the duration. And there’s not a thing I can do.

Doing What I Can? 

Nothing, that is, except maybe obsess over how wrong it feels, and how rudely he dismissed me over it. I’ve been dwelling on that. Too much. What should I have said different than I said? What should I saw when I go back there? Even, How can I tell him off?

But honestly, the cast isn’t that awful. I’ve padded it up well enough. I’ll make it one more week until it comes off. So what’s bothering me so much, then? Here it is: He had all the control, and I had none. That’s what got to me.

I let it ruin a whole day. If you’d asked my wife then what she wanted for Christmas, she’d have said, “I want my husband back — the way he’s supposed to be.” . 

Lesson 2: Thank God Anyway

I couldn’t shake those thoughts. Not until late in the day, when I remembered another lesson from another friend. He was a Navy officer who stood a full 6 feet 6 inches tall — and had done a 6 month tour of duty on a submarine once. (The numbers seem almost biblical, don’t they?) Subs aren’t made for tall people, but he was determined to make the best of it. Before the tour began, he resolved to say, “Praise the Lord” every time he banged his head. He laughed when he told the story. “It was the most spiritual 6 months of my life!”

So I decided that every time my cast or my foot bothered me, I’d think of something to thank God for. I can’t say I’ve had the most spiritual two days of my life, but it sure is helping. It’s breaking the obsession cycle, for starters. It’s also turning my mind back toward the positive things God is always doing in my life. And it’s helping me remember I don’t have to be in control. God is, and He knows what He’s doing.

Support The Stream: Serving the Body During This Crisis With Facts. Faith. And No Fear.

Of course I didn’t invent the principle, and neither did my friend. You can find it easily in Phil. 4:8 and its reminder to keep your mind set on what is good. There’s more in 1 Thess. 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

All I Want for Christmas

It’s still my Christmas prayer, though, that I’d have my spiritual feet under me. These aren’t set-it-and-forget-it lessons. I’ve still got work to do on them, and on practicing forgiveness as well. 

Maybe it seems a small thing. I know some readers’ Christmas prayers are far more urgent and intense than what I’ve described here. I know, too, that Jesus came as one of us that first Christmas morning. He put His own two feet literally on the ground, until He was lifted up on the Cross for our sins. He walked that way again after His resurrection, until He ascended into heaven. From there He rules on high — which is another way of saying He’s still in control.

So what I want for Christmas is my two feet on the ground, especially in the spiritual sense. And I believe that’s one Christmas prayer I can really count on God answering — if I keep my lessons in mind.

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