A silly little turn of my foot in a game of charades gone ridiculously wrong.
And the bones in my ankle disengage, swell my foot like a bluing balloon, and I writhe quiet and smile thinly.
Because really, aren’t I one of those women who comes unglued and broken only a thousand times a day?
The heart of this world’s fractured and we all bear the fault lines.
I ice my throbbing ankle hill with a ziplock bag of melting snow.
Hobble around with the laundry for days.
I’m laying on the couch with my foot propped high over my head, when a friend emails, “Pray for me? I can manage the nausea and exhaustion. It’s the mouth sores that are the hardest.”
She’s the mother of five young children.
“I’m just not sure how I’ll be able to do my job to take care of my babies while on these drugs every day.”
She’s on an aggressive, determined round of three chemo drugs.
“I am just thankful — that such a medicine exists and there continues to be things to do to that keep me living and mothering.”
She’s a mother with stage 3 invasive breast cancer. The universe’s right shattered. My heart leaks through all the cracks. And she’s thankful.
I limp over piles of books. Try to get away from everything shattered. Kids argue loud and doors slam and floors shake and I sigh weary. I pick up the peels of an orange left to wither on the coffee table, a whole sphere right skinned. On the way to the garbage can, I stumble, stub my good foot on the rocking chair. I howl. Flail. Dance hobble back to the kitchen.
And I pray for the sores oozing in a mouth of a mama singing lullabies to her babies and this is one busted up, hurting world and I want all the mothers to live. You hear me, God? Live!
Why can’t this woman whom I love breathe for years more and hold her babies till they grow old and laugh at the wonder of 18th birthdays and lay there in the dark listening to their heavy slumber, all their lungs and life rising and filling and falling, rhythms of grace?
Why can’t she grow old enough to pluck out a few gray hairs, live long enough to have hands wrinkled with memories and real love, to stand with her husband and wonder over the grandbabies?
Why do I sit across the table from her and listen to her say the words — that the doctors don’t expect her to see spring. Oh God please hear our cries!
And the planet spins with a mother who isn’t bitter but gives thanks to God for the medicine that takes her hair and her strength — but keeps her living and mothering one day more, that keeps her over the sink with a cloth, and over the toilet with a brush and over their pillows with prayers just one day more….
And if she can be thankful for the chemo killing her cells to keep her alive just for today with no guarantees for tomorrow — can’t I sing the lullaby of gratitude to own to my moaning soul? Just for today?
“And I am just thankful, Lord, for …”
But can I remember? What am I thankful for? My foot’s killing me. And it’s not killing me at all.
And that’s just the point…
This fallen world never stops dis-membering who we are. We’re all breaking a bit more everyday, even in small ways. And there, even as we ache, is the gentle whisper of God. With the quiet urging to give thanks anyways, to do this in re-membrance of Him. But why in the world give thanks? Why in the name of heaven?
Because when we remember how He blesses, loves us, when we recollect His goodnesses to us, we heal — we re-member.
In the remembering to give thanks, our broken places are re-membered — made whole.
When we re-member all His blessings, we re-member all our fractures and in giving thanks in the assembly, it’s our very souls that re-assemble.
Is that it? That the mama with cancer giving thanks for right now — she is the one who is fully really living? All in Him, all giving glory.
At the table, I prop up my swollen foot and murmur thanks to Him, for a chair, for a leg, me hobbling through mothering today, giving thanks to Him who let Himself be broken to make us whole, and doing this thanks in remembrance of His daily grace, re-members and mends me, and the pain eases.
The fracture lines in my heart all healing in this fusion to Him.
Written by Ann Voskamp & Photo Credit
- Broken places needing mending? Hurting heart? Maybe wander around to here, to find a whole community gathering here throughout the day, everyday, to re-member Him — and finding their hearts re-membered and put back together. Maybe yours too?
- What Is Your Life Magnifying? … over at the Bloom Book Club where women are blooming and healing and mending…
Q 4U: What’s hurting in your heart today, friend? What if you whispered to Jesus, asking for help to find just one thing to give thanks for anyways?