I lost a little girl once.
When she was ten, she wore knee-length Jams. If you haven’t heard of them, be thankful. They were shorts that came in blinding colors, covered with a confusing assortment of patterns and prints. Her favorite pair was red, covered with yellow skateboards and pink triangles.
She liked to try to make her parents laugh by sticking a grain of rice on her nose at dinner time, while carrying on as if she didn’t know it was there. Her parents tried to cure her lack of care for hair, proper table manners, and socially acceptable style by enrolling her in etiquette class. This girl wrote short stories about alien boogers, loved science experiments and climbing the cottonwood tree in her backyard up onto the roof when no one was home, where she’d pretend the overgrown, gray, wooden garden house in the backyard with its broken pottery pieces and knee-high grass was a magical portal.
She didn’t go missing all at once; the loss was slow and subtle. There were words spoken, moments of realization, and there was an accumulation of feeling like she looked like too much and wasn’t enough. Bit by bit, like a cookie left out on the counter that you promise yourself to only eat a tiny corner of a few too many times, the little girl slowly disappeared until she was all gone.
It took almost half a lifetime before I realized that I not only lost that little girl along the way, but I missed her terribly.
Sometimes grief sneaks up on me, badgering and begging me to listen to its melancholy songs. I try to ignore it, but God gives me these painful songs to remember who I am and who He alone is making and mending me to be.
It has been three months since I fell off of my bike and broke my left wrist. From the first crisp, blue-skied days in October until these cold gray days after the start of a new year, I’ve been on the detour of healing. Healing is all I’ve thought about, and getting back to what was is what I’ve wanted.
Bike riding has always reminded me of joy and spirit of that little girl I lost. I would ride through our neighborhood or on nearby bike trails, a grown woman, giggling with joy. I haven’t been back on my bike yet.
Three months, and what’s felt like a million occupational therapy appointments later, I can grip a slippery pan in my left hand and hold it still enough over the sink to scrub it clean after the kids are in bed. I use both hands when switching the laundry, and I can twist jars open again. Typing no longer hurts like it used to; my fingers can stretch to the farther keys. All of these things feel like small miracles, but what keeps surprising me is the way my wrist will never be quite the same, and how much I miss what it used to be.
Healing isn’t a rewind button.
A good friend told me to make sure I grieve what was, no matter how small a deal it may seem. Everyone wants to hear about how we’ve healed; no one wants to hear our melancholy songs about what was. But when we can’t go back, we must sit still and listen to the sad songs before we move forward. Grief needs space, and I’ve had to acknowledge more than once that though my wrist has healed significantly, it’s not what it was.
After Jesus’ resurrection, He came back with scars. He carried His wounds through the darkness of death and back again through death’s defeat. And it’s by His wounds and the way His hands, feet, and side will never be the same again that we are healed.
We will break, and we will lose much along the way, but because of God’s grace, we will still beautifully become. Maybe it’s not our success or skill, but it’s our shared scars that will help one another remember, grieve, mend, and believe that there’s hope for every lost thing.