My mom remembers sitting in the bathtub, her big pregnant belly encircled by the warm water. She felt me kicking and kicking and then not. She knew something was wrong with me, her baby. She prayed, “Lord, don’t let it be her brain.
So, when I was born, my appearance was actually a relief. My little left baby leg was curled up over my right shoulder, the kneecap on the back of my leg with my little left foot pointing in the wrong direction.
The small-town Nebraska doctor whisked me away, leaving my mother alone. I didn’t realize until after having my own two kids, how awful this must have been for her.
But in that space she prayed, “Thank you God it wasn’t her brain.”
After receiving phone directions from a big city Omaha physician, my doctor grabbed my small and loose-jointed baby leg at the hip and ankle and twisted. My little baby kneecap danced around and things shifted into place, so my leg now looked like a normal-foot-is-on-the-front-of-the-leg thing.
The new problem was that it wouldn’t bend.
The doctors planned to splint my leg throughout my first months of life. At each early child visit, they would bend my little knee a bit more and re-splint, and re-splint to the tune of my cries and (I can only imagine) my mother’s wincing.
This splinting must have been awful and painful, and if I could have talked, I would have told them to stop. But now I can walk.
Sometimes I wonder if metaphorical splinting has been going on in cycles throughout my life. Peace and joy come again and again, but always after a bout of the tough stuff opening up a space.
Recently, I read a post on social media from a friend:
Today I was overwhelmed by the stress of money, lack of time, and post Labor Day blues. For some reason, I had a sudden burst of energy after work and was able to meet up with the Pastors from our sister churches (who are visiting from Honduras and Tanzania this week). As I was quickly venting to Pastor Robson Mmanga about my current stressors, he pulled me aside and said, “Oh dear one…if you let those small things stand in your way and get to your heart, you will miss out on why you are here in this life.” There, in the parking lot of Runza, I was reminded that we can’t let these small issues overpower us. So… if you have something holding you back this week, I pass on this advice. Let’s spend more time looking for ‘these’ moments and less time worrying about things that are out of our control.
And with that reminder, I can write my thanks. Today I can catch myself seeing what is always here. Tomorrow, well, we’ll see. For me, the walk of life is as Augustine said, a series of consolations and desolations. An ebb and flow of swimming in the goodness, looking around and finding thanks everywhere, and then scrapping to see it in a gray world echoing like a tin can.
Some days gratitude isn’t simple, it’s courageous white-knuckling your hope.
If that’s you today. Don’t be in charge of it all. Somehow get under or over or around it, give yourself a get out of jail free card and say, “I don’t really have to think about that today,” take the next little tiny step that you are capable of.
The fact that you are here is enough. We’re here together, and that’s enough.
It’s always been enough. Because you are more than enough.
Tomorrow or the next day the gratitude list will write itself again, if only for a moment. Dare to be courageous when the splinting comes, and in between the wincing, when you want to yell at it all to just stop–Be splinted. Breathe it all in. And say thanks if nothing else, for the breathing.
I’ll recognize you, fellow daring one by your eyes, tired and wiser, still mining thanks in your own beautiful rebellion. Walking in the middle of your own splinting, daring even to run.
A comedian with friends, giggling together
Chicken Tikka Marsala, yummy
A silly coffee mug each morning this week, Precious Moments then Spongebob
Teaching the meaning of “woke” to a friend
Book club real-ness with my girls
Another fresh start
Your turn. . .