One moment I was a mother of four, juggling everything while my husband was deployed. I was tired but capable. The next moment I was on the floor unable to move my legs.
I had attempted a super-human leap across the room to catch my two-year-old daughter from falling. There was a burst of incredible pain, and I ended up lying in the middle of my living room, trying to drag myself to her, unable to reach a phone in the empty house. That was the beginning of several months of hospital visits, appointments with every kind of specialist, and so many tests. While my right leg recovered, my left leg was paralyzed. I lost the ability to walk and had to learn to navigate life and motherhood from a wheelchair.
The doctors came to the conclusion that a specific complication from my initial injury had been overlooked and caused nerve and muscle damage. However, all the scary conditions were also discussed and screened for. It’s startling how facing the possibility of diseases that could steal everything from you or take your life puts the loss of a functioning limb into perspective. And now that I am learning a new normal, I think about the mothers, daughters, and grandmothers that I have seen during my weeks in hospitals and doctors’ offices — brave women who are battling far worse things than I am. Not one of them deserves what they are facing more than I do, and the colorful head scarfs, bedazzled wheelchairs, and sweet smiles are a testament to the grace they are embodying.
All the smart professionals in white coats tell me they cannot just fix what has happened to my body. They tell me they are hopeful I will regain movement and function, but they do not know if it will be a full recovery. What they are certain of is that I have a long road ahead of me. So in the meantime I learn how to get through a door without getting my wheels stuck. I swallow my pride and accept help from strangers when I can’t reach the top shelves at Trader Joes, and I simply say thank you when friends and family cook, clean, care for my toddler, and drive my sons to activities. I breathe deeply and remind myself that my worth is not dependent on how well I can walk or if I can do all the things for my family.
I must say that I do not understand this upending. Why when my husband is on the other side of the world am I forced to embark on this journey? Why must all the suffering that I have seen as I go from appointment to appointment and attend physical therapy in a neuro rehabilitation program exist? Yes, I know the theological answers, but they are not enough as I watch the way a human body can disintegrate. Why the strokes and cancer, the car wrecks and suffering? Why God? There is no reply.
I tell Him that I am angry more for others’ suffering than my own, and then comes the reply. God says simply, “I understand, and I love you.”
These words fix nothing in the actuality of this broken world, our messy pain, my leg that dangles unaware that I need it to move. But these words are everything, and they are enough.
These words remind me that redemption is coming, and it is here.
These words don’t mean I fully understand struggle and suffering. They don’t mean that I know what will happen in the waiting, or why one lives through trauma, pain, and loss while others are spared. But these words tell me there is beauty to find in it all.
Beauty can be everywhere, amidst even the hardest things. There are treasures hidden in the most unlikely of places.
Beauty right now is my community gathering around in support. Beauty is learning just how precious life is and how fragile our bodies are. Beauty is finding out that I have raised teenage boys who aren’t embarrassed to play bumper cars in Target with their mom’s wheelchair and a shopping cart. Beauty is my mother stepping in to care for my two-year-old daughter who now walks much better than I can. Beauty is a long phone call where my husband and I talk through all the fearful things and connect over silly jokes and hopeful plans. Beauty is remembering that while we buy groceries, wipe runny noses, and plan college funds, redemption is our true and only hope
The reality of beauty is that no matter how I feel or what I can do, there is One who says, “I love you.” And those words are enough whether I am walking, sitting, or rolling.
Beauty can be everywhere, amidst even the hardest things. - Sharon McKeeman: Click To Tweet