Mr. Phillips was always in the foyer of the Crescent Care Nursing Home when I came through the door. He sat there in his wheelchair with his white hair neatly combed, and his clothes carefully pressed.
“Hello, Mr. Phillips,” I would always say.
He would smile a wide smile and the corners of his eyes would turn up and twinkle. “Hello,” he would say, “Looks like a wonderful day.”
For Mr. Phillips, the day was always wonderful.
I remember thinking, “How could he think that?” Ray Phillips was sitting in a wheelchair nursing a broken hip in a place that normally sends people into the sloth of despair.
In another life, Mr. Phillips had been a prosperous man. He owned a business that supplied gasoline to various stations around North Texas. He and his wife had a wonderful relationship that lasted almost 50 years. Ray Phillips only had one boy and, after his wife died, he entrusted that son with his life savings.
Ray moved into the assisted living center and planned to spend the rest of his days in comfort among friends. He did not know that his son had a drug and gambling addiction, and in a period of about five years misspent all of his father’s life savings. Rather than face his dad with the dreadful news, Ray’s boy committed suicide.
I met Mr. Phillips the day that it happened. He was catatonic with shock. Staring into space wondering, “Why?” He looked at me through the tears and said, “I don’t blame the boy. I still love him. But why? Why’d he have to do that?”
Not long after that, Mr. Phillips had to move to the nursing home. Then he broke his hip. Most people would curl up and quit, but not Ray Phillips. Instead of covering himself with grief or bitterness, Ray exercised his right to joy and pushed himself out of bed and into the lobby. He sat and stared out the window and greeted everyone who came through the door with a smile. You could take his wealth, take his wife, even take his son, but you could not have Ray Phillips’ joy.
There is much in life that is beyond your control. But the one thing nobody can take from you is the attitude with which you choose to respond. James said, “Consider it joy brethren when you encounter various trials. . .” use the power of your attitude to transform the situation into an occasion for Joy.