Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The truth of my life

I woke up this morning, thinking it'd be a good day to remain flat.  This followed a night where I found it difficult to get comfortable.  Out in the kitchen Grampie had forgotten how to start the coffee maker, the dogs were barking for him to go out and play ball with them, and the phone was ringing.  Not a day to stay in bed.

However, all the errands in Grampie's mind will have to be done by E, or wait until tomorrow.  I told him this when he began listing the jobs he had in store for us.  I really don't understand this daily need to go to the bank.  Anyway.  I said, "Grampie, my leg, which hurts every minute of every day, is really acting up today.  I just can't do it."  "Your leg?  Did you hurt your leg?"  Now I'm pretty sure he's known about the nerve problems I've struggled with for the last decade, but to him life is really new every morning, so I told him my story.

When I was seven years old, I was hit by a car, having darted out from behind a parked car onto the fairly busy street in front of our house, without looking both directions.  But that's not the whole story.  It was Valentine's Day--a Sunday (we didn't go to church in those days)-- and I had a brand new red fuzzy coat. I wanted to show it off to my friends who were playing across the street, so went across to see them.  However, the street we lived on was the major thoroughfare into the sub-division where we lived, so crossing  without asking permission was not allowed. The whole time (probably fairly short) across that street, I was worried that my mother would notice where I was.  I definitely remember this.  I also remember that my older brother was sick that day, but I think that's beside the point.  Anyway, I felt guilty for disobeying my mother so I went home to ask my mother if I could cross the street to play with my friends.  And on the third time across that street, I darted in front of a parked car (I've always thought it was my dad's Opal, but I'm not sure why he hadn't driven it to his lab that day where he was working on his phd--maybe it wasn't working--it often wasn't!), and was hit by a car.

I don't remember being hit.  I don't remember catching hold of the bumper and being drug along the street, but apparently that's what happened.  I don't remember saying, "I'm sorry, Mommy," over and over and over.  But I did that too, apparently sure it was all my fault and was about to get in trouble.  All the way to the hospital in Mr. Hoffmeister's car.  Mr. Hoffmeister was our next door neighbor.  He was a cop--an off-duty cop.  And he got us to the hospital faster than an ambulance could have come out and picked me up, and taken me back.  I have a feeling he had a police car at his house, but I could just be making that up for this event, though I know he did other times.  In fact, I don't remember anything about of it.  I do remember the huge wound on my left hip that had to be drained, was sometimes left open, and even, I think, how it stunk.  I remember when I got home that Mom cut a hole in a sheet for just those times when she had to let air get to it.

I have that scar to this day, of course.  It was bone-deep and ugly.  I missed an entire month of school, and the biggest deal to me was that when I went back I got to have the special chair pad and back that kids only had on their birthdays--the one I'd never had, because my birthday is in the summer.  And I was introduced and clapped for at a school assembly.  Yep, it was the biggest deal of my whole seven years.

But it wasn't.  The biggest deal was what had happened within my back when that car hit me.  When my hip pressed sideways into my backbone, but had the agility to bounce back.  In those days there was no such thing as MRIs or CAT scans.  And the X-Rays showed no broken bones, so I was good to go, right?

Yes.  And no.  Right until my body grew old, my muscles weakened and things began to slow down.  Then all that scarring, all those nerves that had been pinched and bent and left for dead, revealed the damage done 30 years earlier.  And here I am.  With the nerves in my leg in constant pain.  Unremitting, constant pain that sometimes spikes.  When the neurologists finally figured out what and why and how come, the explanation was that it's like an old football injury--while athletes are young and supple, they can injure their bodies and come back.  But someday they will pay the price.  Eventually they will pay the price.  That's just the consequence of such brutal impact on the body.

It's a lot like the consequence of sin, I think. I think of the time SK inexplicably (maybe she could explain it now!) cut off the hair of her American Girl Doll.  Her expensive American girl doll.  Afterward--immediately afterward--she was quite remorseful she had done this, but that didn't put the hair back on the doll.  The hair was cut. The end. We forgave her, but there was a consequence.  She had to save her allowance for the money to send the doll to the doll hospital for new hair (actually a whole new head, though I'm pretty sure she didn't know this then--sorry SK, if I'm bursting your bubble now).

So  I am not saying we are not forgiven.  Please, please, don't get me wrong.  However, some sins--perhaps many--have far-reaching consequences that can be haunting.  I think of sexual sins, for instance.  Certainly Paul makes a case for this being true. He says that "all other sins are outside their bodies, but those who sin sexually sin against their own bodies." 1 Corinthians 6: 18  There are scars from sexual sins that remain, despite forgiveness.

So, even forgiven, even transformed, we must live with the consequences of the wrongs we have done to others, and to ourselves.  And pray for the day, when we have new bodies, whole and holy.  Until then, I will honor Him with this broken and hurting body. I've said it before, but I believe I honor Him more because of this pain.  Having exhausted all (and trust me, I mean all--all kinds of doctors, pain clinics, drugs, therapies, etc) human solutions, and all spiritual ones as well (prayer in every guise--with and without oil), I stand feebly, but boldly (and for one like me, that's no contradiction), trusting that this is the life I am meant to live.  If I didn't believe it, I couldn't stand, or even sit, another day.  Honestly.  Without believing that I am more than the sum of my parts, more than the consequence of one small action 45 years ago, I couldn't last another day.  Without the counter-intuitive sense that God is in this--yes, EVEN IN THIS--another day might be too much.  I do not mean to sound depressing, because I do not feel it.  I feel hope.  Because He is. But all that is also the truth.  There is absolutely no strength in me.  No power, no ability in me.  I hate this pain.  I hate that it lasts, and lasts and never goes away.  I hate that it impacts every single moment of my life.  And nothing, not even sleep can diminish it.

And yet, I love my life. Every single moment of my life.  And wish for no other--would trade it for no other--even if that other had no pain.  Because this life is my greatest gift: Beve, my kids, my siblings, parents, family, friends, writing...especially Him. That He is and that He is in me.  It's worth everything.

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