What I’m about to share has little to do with words or writing, although perhaps it may explain what has prevented me from pounding away at the keyboard. (I preface this blog entry by acknowledging that millions of people around the world endure physical challenges far greater than those I face — in fact, horrific challenges beyond physical disabilities and health issues.)
Last week I underwent surgery on my ankle, well aware that recovery would take time and present a few difficulties. Accepting my inability to prevent all bad things from happening to my mortal being allowed me to trust God more authentically and learn the “secret” and joy of praising His goodness in every circumstance. And yet, because He created me and knows well my shortcomings, it must not have been a surprise when I aimed my controlling nature toward the only tasks remaining for human hands: preparing for post-surgery.
I set up “recovery” nooks on both levels of our apartment, with lots of computer tasks planned to keep me from thinking about the biopsy results. Area rugs that might trip me up were put away and laundry was caught up. I pulled together bags of necessities that might come in handy when forced to be sedentary, and bought enough groceries for me and all family members (despite the fact that my sons and mother don’t even live with us). So proud was I of my decision a few hours before the surgery to haul a teak shower bench into the master bath, purchase a HAZMAT-like waterproof boot, and surround myself with every possible aid I could think of.
In ignorance, I failed to realize that full impact of cutting off a wide swath of skin, interference with tendons, and the 22 stitches required to sew me back up. Despite what the modern day writers pen about Wonder Women, our power can be diminished by unexpected forces. The day after surgery, I mustered up the courage to shower, believing the potential pain would bother me less than the thought of missing out on the massage feature of the new shower head. I hoisted my walking boot upon a wheeled office chair and rolled to the stairway. The ascent required more ingenuity and energy than I thought possible. After thumping across the length of the bedroom in the cumbersome boot (did the surgeon leave the knife IN my ankle?), I withered at the thought of the balancing act ahead of me. I chided myself for stowing the freshly-laundered bath towels on a high shelf a few days prior. Never mind, I thought, my robe would suffice! Battling with the unforgiving velcro to remove the walking boot tested my patience and inflamed my wound. Where were those discharge instructions of how to care for the incision? Sliding my swollen ankle into the tiny opening of the waterproof foot sleeve was nearly impossible. I glanced out the door toward the bed with its plump pillows beckoning me, and almost abandoned the task at hand.
Yet so enticing was the lure of warm water with which I could try and wash away every memory of the surgery, I did what had to be done. Despite the awkward negotiation of the shower boot and struggle to remain upright, I succeeded. With my hair rinsed and limbs squeaky clean, I felt victorious! My pride and self-satisfaction began to surge. I reached out for my snuggly bath robe, only to discover I had forgotten to hang it on the wall hook.
As I pondered my next move — exhausted, cold and dripping wet, I heard a strange noise in the distance. Irritating and relentless. The fire alarm! My initial reaction was to scramble and exit the apartment, until I took stock of my limitations. Visions of my scantily-clad, injured, wet form careening down the hallway on the wobbly-wheeled desk chair horrified me. I may not be active on social media, but I am familiar with the hundreds of Millennials residing in this apartment building who are. Of this I was certain — becoming the subject of a cell phone video with more views than the Chewbacca Mask Lady was not going to be my future! Managing to extricate myself from the shower, I hobbled over to the closet and grabbed my robe, debating whether or not to gamble on this being a false alarm. The sound of the approaching fire engines dashed my hopes. With hair wet and wild, a ridiculous plastic contraption donning my injured foot, bathrobe inside-out and a long trail of sutures screaming at me — I struggled onto the makeshift wheelchair and scooted toward the door leading to the lanai. Thankfully, the fire alarm ceased before I caused a scene, one that would have involved drawing unwanted attention from the onlookers below our balcony (extending over our small town’s main thoroughfare.)
Did I mention I believe in a merciful God?
With my whole heart I worship the all-powerful, loving and righteous El Shaddai. Despite my many shortcomings, failures and sin, He has been with me through trials and joys. I have experienced God's presence in my life -- in many instances, true miracles that surpass all understanding. I fully trust Him during this health scare. And yet trapped in that shower, I was reminded of His willingness to rescue us humans who foolishly believe we have the power to control everything (and perhaps that the Lord occasionally interjects a bit of humor?)
The Bible consistently reveals the weakness of mortal flesh and reason. Our earthly bodies are perishable. Mankind's limited wisdom and self reliance prove futile. From the moment Eve and Adam made their choices, a chasm formed, separating us from God. I sense fascination with fictional superheroes arises from a determination to handle life’s challenges on our own, mistakenly believing there is such a thing as “super human.” Much like the fictional characters, we seek a wellspring of power and wisdom, but often times grasp at imperfect sources and flawed solutions. While I admire the attempts of the “earthly creators” of comic book heroes to bolster self-confidence in their audiences, I have discovered that true hope and moral strength is only attainable from The Creator of the universe. Eventually, each fictional character — and human being — encounters a lesson that strength lies not in physical abilities; but with the inner spirit. Many imposters and deceivers lay claim to that inner spirit. It is only through repenting of our sins and believing that the sacrifice of God's son atoned for these sins that we can be filled with the Holy Spirit. While my body is disintegrating, it is through the Spirit I am able to find wholeness — and holiness. (Romans 8:2-6)
I’ve been asked why I requested a biopsy of an area the medical provider didn’t believe was a problem. Beyond a doubt, it was a prompting of the Holy Spirit. I often pray for wisdom, and it eventually comes through the still small nudging of the Spirit. It was not a sense of panic or alarm, rather the persistent lack of peace at “doing nothing about it” that I could no longer ignore. The physician seemed surprised with the ultimate diagnosis. While disappointed, I am grateful it was caught early.
The prayers and assistance of the people God surrounds me with to navigate this trial (and those in the past) have strengthened me physically and emotionally. Tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit, I mustered the faith to trust God and lay down my fears about the future. While not always pleasant, the paths upon which He has led me have provided opportunities to share the reason for my hope and joy, pointing to “superpower” of the Holy Spirit.
Regaling you today with this humorous anecdote of God “rescuing me” when the fire alarm sounded in the midst of me thinking I was some kind of Wonder Woman is one of these occasions!