03/22/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Letting Go of DeFeet

There were hardly any kids at the Shriners Hospital today... The administrative assistant I contacted had tried to discourage me from coming because the hospital would be so empty. But I went anyway, because I was in town. I wore my Olympic medals and brought souvenir postcards to sign for the patients who were there. So I visited a few kids and talked. Then we met this little girl with her mother in the hallway. Neither spoke English. Through the translator I shared the story of my amputated leg and being at Shriners for my surgeries when I was a kid. Then the girl lifted up her pants leg to show her foot was five inches off the ground with a brace like mine was. It turns out she had the same problem, but refused to let them cut her foot off. We talked a bit more.

Then I visited some other kids.

I saw her again and asked "is getting a leg like mine an option?" She shook her head quickly as if to say "no way."

"Do you have any questions about it?" I asked through the interpreter.

She shook her head faster. I wasn't getting through at all.

So I put down my purse, took off my high heels, adjusted my ankle to flat and ran across the room and back as fast as I could. Then I took out my jump rope and jumped. I didn't see her face while I was running, but they told me they saw the light in her eyes go on! A man who had seen her when she first came in--shy and withdrawn--started crying. Words didn't get through to her, but action speaks louder than words. If she was the only kid in the hospital that day, I think it was worth going.

When I spoke at a church later that day I told the story of the little girl...and I said, "Here she is in the middle of free, state of the art medical care turning down the treatment she needs--and a powerful new leg--because she wants to keep a foot that doesn't work!"

"How often are we like that with God? God has everything prepared for us but we are like a small child from a foreign country who doesn't understand the big picture. What is the foot you are holding onto in your life that is blocking your blessings? Is it a job you need to move on from? Is it a relationship that you need to let go of? A degree you are afraid to get? What are you holding onto?"