I untangle myself from the titanium poles that carried me through the street like a free bird just moments earlier. My cheeks are still warm from the midday sun.
The childlike joy I felt overcome with before falling now splays invisible across the asphalt under me. I don’t know how to pick any of it back up. I know I should be thankful there were no cars on the road, and it wasn’t worse. Was it my helmet that hit the ground in a loud crack? My head doesn’t hurt. I stretch my body upward, brushing loose dirt, noticing an unfamiliar pulsating in my left hand. Lawn machines buzz. Unbridled laughter rises somewhere close but out of sight. I imagine the laughter weaving down the spiral of a slide or swelling forwards, then back, on sticky rubber swings. Lawn maintenance and recess go on as usual; I’m stopped short.
I examine my left hand. It’s misshapen, twisted, and scraped. My fingers feel disconnected from the rest of my arm. I try to push my palm back into place. I want the fix to be quick, but my hand won’t stay where I think it should be. Pain sirens through my arm like a stern warning for my efforts towards a microwave-ease mending. I ask myself why I’m so clumsy, and why I assumed I was worthy of feeling joy from my nose to my toes on such an ordinary Wednesday in the first place. I scold myself for being so upset when it could’ve been worse — when so many others have it worse.
I think I hear more laughter. There’s no one in sight, but the presence is unmistakable. I stand on the sidewalk for a moment, frozen, feeling foolish, suddenly hoping no one saw me fall. I decide to walk home, pushing my twisted bike frame forward, one slow step at a time. The bike frame, bent like my spirit, moves with reluctance. I gather shame like penance for my moments of unfettered joy.
As I stumble forward, I try to put words together to pray but can’t. I sing instead.
In whispers off-key, I plead by song with the one who says His help is ever-present and not limited to cases bigger and seemingly worthier of need. I do what the song says and lift my eyes up from the crooked metal between me and my way home. My voice rises as I ask where my help comes from and agree that it comes from the Maker of Heaven, the Creator of the Earth — the One who is there with me, who knows full well the crushing weight of broken bones and a cup that won’t be taken away.
At the urgent care, hours after the initial break, I learn that my wrist is too broken for their care. At the hospital later, I learn that even though the orthopedic surgeon will perform a closed reduction, I will likely need hand surgery. And when I meet my hand surgeon days later, she gently draws a picture of just how bad it was and describes how much mending I still need.
The intricate breaking of bones in my wrist feels deliberate and measured. The chasm between what was, what is, and what should be, is wider than my optimism.
Things like buttoning my pants, putting my thick hair into a ponytail, opening my kids’ water bottles, trying to get my contacts in my eyes, and washing my right arm stack up into a long list of things I can no longer do on my own.
I remember the One I belong to in joy and pain, in brokenness and healing, in grief and gratitude. I remember the One who chose limitations, weakness, and dependency to come near to those as prideful, fearful, weak, and prone to wander as I am.
Pride tells me that my burdens and need should be a source of humiliation, but God says they are a seedbed of healing and resurrection.
There has been healing alongside hot chili, vegetable soup, and thoughtful gifts brought by friends. Floors cleaned, our kids cared for, dirty dishes washed, prayers prayed, and a husband who sleeps on the floor to make sure my arm has all the room it needs — these things stack up like resistance to the lies of the enemy, protests against shame, weapons wielded by the Bride of Christ to defend the miracle of mercy.
I wince as I try to move my stiff wrist and exercise the muscles like I’ve been told to. I’m healing, but my muscles can’t remember how to move after all they’ve been through. Frustrated, I grieve what was while being no less grateful for what is.
My son frowns and furrows his thick brows, asking me, “Why can’t you move yet? Why does it have to hurt? And why did it happen at all?”
I tell him I don’t know the answers to those questions but invite him to do the exercises with me. We laugh as we count out the exercises, and bend our fingers in tandem. In that moment, we carry each other through the pain of what we don’t understand. We surrender to the mystery of song and laughter that still rises from broken things, and I remind him that we have an ever-present Help who will not be thwarted from making all broken things new.
Pride tells me that my burdens and need should be a source of humiliation, but God says they are a seedbed of healing and resurrection. -@tashajunb: Click To Tweet