On this day…
2012: I was 24 hours into kicking a 22 year cigarette habit.
2013: I had my left knee cap removed (not replaced).
Around this day, 2014: I was out of fight. I was exhausted from the toll pain had taken on me. I walked through each day with a heavy sadness words can’t describe over the impact my unsuccessful recovery had on my family. With hopelessness consuming me and full certainty that a year out, we should all be enjoying a much better quality of life than we were, My Fave and I explored amputating my left leg. My surgeon asked me to give it six more months. I immediately wanted a cigarette, as if smoking was going to make it easier to decide whether or not I trusted my surgeon of 20+ years. I’m still smoke free, eight years later. I’m still blessed with the use of both my legs. And it has very little to do with me.
They’re my scars but His glory.
I hesitated sharing this today. It’s hard to acknowledge this chunk of time & keep the focus off myself. I did not get myself here. The support from friends/family/community, while awesome, didn’t get me here. This day, those two years, are all Jesus. They’re my scars but His glory and each time I try to tell this day’s story, it seems to result in people telling me how strong and brave and all of that I am. The “It’s not me, it’s Him.” narrative I’ve tried to deliver just doesn’t seem to have hit the mark. I haven’t written anything of any real value for months, so I certainly wasn’t confident that I would somehow return from a writing hiatus and be able to tell the story of this day in a way that shows how much of His story it actually is. Dipping my toe in the water seemed a safe route – this blog post, started as a string of Tweets – but, according to Matthew West, “Safe is just another word for regret.”
This day isn’t about safe. It’s about knowing when I have to turn it over to Him. When to believe. When to be afraid & do it anyway. When to trust someone’s got so much more planned for me than I could ever orchestrate or imagine. When to jump in and know He’s not going to let me go under. When to stand in the mirror, look myself in the eye and see what He sees in me.
I typically spend this day reflecting on those two years and learn something new each time. Today’s lesson: these last four months have felt much like the period between August 2012 and 2014. Each day somehow felt worse than the one before. A step forward brought with it four steps back. Hope gave way to disappointment over and over and over. The insecurities that haunted me found a way to orchestrate themselves into every corner of my life. The lies I believed about myself became truths no one could talk me out of. There was a “new normal” in front of me but no one really could tell me what “normal” would look like. And it seemed as if it would never end.
Sounds a little like life in 2020, right?
I’m a slow learner and more than a little stubborn. I joke God wasn’t letting me out of that chaos until I learned what He needed me to; it wasn’t really a joke. The lessons of these past four months of COVID are different than 2012-2014 left me with. Six years ago, I needed to learn how to ask for and accept help; that “No” is a Holy word; that owning my stuff and requiring other people to own their stuff is not up for negotiation; most importantly, that “God. Family. Country. (or in my case, Community) are listed in that order on purpose.
Since mid-March there have been some really unpleasant lessons in learning how to stop; how to just be still; how to ask for what I need, when I need something more than help; how to know what I need; how to know who to ask; how to know when putting aside my own chaos to help someone else carry theirs is a blessing for both of us. I’ve also realized I need a lot of practice with walking away from the people and places no longer meant for me. Knowing my place, not in a diminishing sense of the phrase, but in a sense of being content with where I am.
Thank you, Jesus for giving me a push into the water tonight. I hope I reflected more of You and less of me in these words. If not, there’s always Aug 2, 2021 to give it another go.
I usually end this day feeling like a champion. You know, “I am Woman, who will rise from the ashes of the fire that tried to consume me and be an inspiration to all.” sort of stuff. I don’t feel that today. “Thank you, Jesus for giving me a push into the water tonight. I hope I reflected more of You and less of me in these words. If not, there’s always Aug 2, 2021 to give it another go.” will be the thoughts when my head hits the pillow tonight. I hope whoever finds these words, will find in them hope, faith, trust, endurance, and purpose far beyond anything they could imagine. I hope they bring encouragement to take a moment and see what lessons might be in the middle of the chaos; what you need to do to quiet some of the noise; what happens when you look at a storm as a way to clear a path rather than cause destruction.
And I truly hope they reflect Him, not me.