The lights went down in the auditorium like they do every Sunday. I took a few seconds longer than normal to get up from my seat, careful not to bump the oversized cast on my leg into anyone in the process, taking a few one-legged hops forward to stay out of the way. If you’ve spent any amount of time in a “charismatic” church, you know it’s helpful to have at least half an arm’s length of space between you and the people around you – the worship width – and I did my best to give my neighbors some room for movement. After just a few seconds of music, my sore “good leg” was already tired (three hop-along weddings will do that to you when you’re crippled), so I steadied myself on my scooter, which was bulky and very much in the way.
Being physically broken at the feet of Jesus is a vulnerable thing, and it gave me a lot of perspective about emotional brokenness and the value (yes, value) of pain. I’ve been reading The Problem with Pain by C.S. Lewis because, to be honest, I don’t understand why certain things happen. I understand that God is in control, but I struggle with the co-existence of evil and the goodness of God. A blog on that is to be continued. But the parallel between the physical pain I felt while also crying out to God in thankfulness, awe, and humbleness, was a powerful illustration of my own lack of gratitude when things are “good,” while also reminding me that this current suffering means so little considering the breadth of eternity.
Pastor Jeremy said something particularly powerful during that service, furthering my guilt but expounding on my epiphany:
Your pain might be someone else’s blessing, which not only gives your struggle purpose – it gives YOU purpose.
In that moment, I realized that it’s my choice to look at each day and declare it as good because God is good. And in that declaration, I can choose to live out the gospel to the people around me. Scooting around on a med scooter with a bright pink cast has drawn more attention to me that ever in my life – and that’s saying a lot, coming from a 6’2” woman. Every glance, every interaction, every stranger that comes up to me and asks what happens – those are all Jesus moments. Instead of telling people I don’t understand how I made it through two airports and drove myself to the ER, I can credit that as righteousness. Because it was. Because it is.
Throughout this process, my mom has continually said, “I’m so thankful that the Lord heals our bones.” I brushed this off, like a lot of the encouragement I’ve received in the past month (working on this), but standing there in the darkness with other broken people, though broken in different ways, my mom’s words continue to mean so much more.
Being so immobile as a photographer, a fiercely independent person, and ultimately someone who lives alone... is hard. Finding new ways to get laundry to and from the W/D without killing myself is a challenge. Getting into a tiny shower using crutches is slippery and probably a terrible idea. Getting groceries is now my weekly workout. Not having anyone to reassure me that my toes are getting enough circulation when I wake up in pain at 3am -- it's all hard. But I'm learning that pain is temporary and asking for help isn't admitting weakness (more on that later). My clients have been so kind and accommodating because yes, I've already shot three weddings and a bridal session on one leg. And I'm finding new ways to cope with anxiety since I can't kick box five times a week anymore (RIP muscles).
One of my favorite songs is called “Dry Bones” by Gungor, which compares humans to empty vessels of bones, soulless and lifeless without the breath of God. I’m thankful that God heals my bones. But I’m also thankful that I don’t need to be unbroken in order to have purpose, that even when I’m waiting for healing, I’m whole.