“I’ll never forget
the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all~~oh, how well I remember~~
the feeling of hitting the bottom.”
I recently recovered from an extraordinarily painful illness. I actually despise admitting how dark a time it really was. You see, I’m the girl who wishes she could ride dirt bikes but actually rides mountain bikes (on hills, not really on mountains), who would love to run an iron-mom marathon but considers it a good day when I jog instead of just power-walk, who dreams of having arms of steel but actually has the wrists of a 4 year old, who caught mono in the 6th grade before I ever actually kissed anyone (and, thus, missed all the fun in catching mono), who got minor whiplash from wrestling my husband (yes, seriously, neck brace and all), and who is allergic to just about anything that has fur, feathers, or participates in photosynthesis.
So, for me to admit to you how sick I really was, how dark a few days seemed, and how scared I was when they could not determine the source means I have to, once again, be the “weak girl”, the last pick for the team, the sicko, the chicken, the runt. It is a label I have refused to accept internally, no matter what the external circumstances may seem to be.
“But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:”
You see, those things may describe the cards life has dealt me, how I am structurally created and some of the challenges I have faced. But they only tell you part of the story. They don’t tell you how I choose to face those challenges. They don’t tell you how I choose to define myself. Because for all the pathetic stories I could tell you of my weaknesses, my limitations, my short-comings….I could also tell you how I once boarded a plane to China after recovering (sort of) from the H1N1 (swine flu) virus with an inhaler in my hand that I had been using for 3 weeks, coughing my way through every orphanage in China like I had the black plague trying to assure the caretakers I wasn’t actually contagious (I wasn’t, doctor confirmed!), surviving without so much as a cough drop or a kleenex (you’d be surprised how hard it is to find those in the rural villages of Asia, and how much you miss them when you don’t have them!). I came home completely healed and didn’t have to pick up the inhaler again. I could tell you how I also boarded a plane alone to the other side of the world after a mysterious illness that left me with a fever for a month, no answers from doctors only a warning I shouldn’t be traveling. I also came home completely healed. I could tell you about the time I injured my hip and hobbled my way up and down ridiculously steep walkways, dirt roads and slept on terrible mattresses awake most of the night in pain in a third world country traversing mountain communities and orphanages. And I came home….yes, no more hip pain. I have traveled on missions sick as dog, I have surfed (quite terribly) with a horrid leg cramp, I have jumped on crazy roller coasters with neck injuries, I have traveled the world alone to places where I had no friends, no creature comforts and where someone like me really probably doesn’t even belong.
“I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over), He’s all I’ve got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.”
Does this mean I’m brave? No, remember, I’m the weak one. What it does mean is someone finally picked me….ME….to be on His team. And not only does it not bother him that I have the wrists of a preschooler and the running time of coma victim, He claims that is actually exactly what qualifies me. When I hold the tiny, shrunken hand of a dying baby in his last moments on earth and pray for his comfort and peace, it is not the empty, shallow prayer of a power athlete who has never known illness or the fear of death. When I clean the hands during the blessing ceremony of a very young teen mother who is destitute and yet gives what she has to her malnourished child, obviously I don’t understand the depths of her despair yet my prayers are made all the more fervent and compassionate remembering my own frailty, humanity, and utter dependence on God to make a way out of the pit. When I walk the dirty roads between tiny shacks housing faces streaked with dust and smiles with missing teeth, there is not an ounce of comparison in my heart as to why they deserve their condition and how blessed I am that I somehow did not deserve this. Instead, I see the spring of eternal hope making its way up through those broken hearts, and striving for any ray of hope it can find just like a wounded flower pushing up through the darkness to find the light that brings life.
“When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The worst is never the worst.
Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return.”
I am a Broken Healer. I am nothing to look at, be impressed by, look up to. I have too many scars to count, too many failures to mention, too few attributes to amount to much of anything. Funny thing is, that’s exactly how they described my Leader, Christ. The ultimate Broken Healer. So I will carry my battered and bruised heart proudly. Because out of those cracks I know the Broken Healer will pour rivers of life to other wounded hearts. Even if I have to cough and hack and limp my way around the world. But perhaps I should stay off the roller coasters……..nah, not going to happen.
All verses in this post taken from Lamentations 3:19-33 MSG