January 12, 1993
While January snows pile up outside and winter winds chill the bones and make noses red and skin chapped, I was planning to send this column from a beach far south--where my nose would be getting red from the sun and the only white stuff in sight would be sand and the tops of ocean waves.
But it didn’t happen. Two days before Christmas, I stepped down from a box and felt the back of my leg explode as if someone hit it with a sledge hammer. The doctor called it a ruptured calf muscle and the physiotherapist said he was good but not quite good enough to get me walking the beach by the second week of January. In fact, he thought it may take two months to fully heal.
So our Christmas celebrations were definitely different this year. One son decorated the tree. The other one put away groceries and scolded me every time I moved. My husband did all his regular chores and mine too, including cleaning the house and helping me get from bed to bath to kitchen to living room, etc. My mother baked apple pies and made breakfast. Our daughter brought cookies and good humor. Her mother-in-law fed us turkey and all the trimmings. I was able to wrap gifts (even one for me) and made jokes about having a “two-C Christmas” (crutches and codeine).
But in a way, this helplessness has been a gift. I have noticed an increase in my compassion for hurting people. News stories about car accidents and injured children tug at my heart in a new way. I can more easily identify with their pain and frustration of trying to move a limb that refuses to respond because it takes all my concentration to move my toes toward my nose, as the therapist says I must. I know what it feels like to have muscles that simply will not do their work.
I can also feel the hope of those mentioned in the Bible stories that came to Jesus because they were lame. How each one must have rejoiced when they realized Isaiah’s prophecy, made six hundred years before, was now coming true. He foretold a time when “the lame would leap like a deer and the mute tongue would shout for joy.” Even though Isaiah’s prophecy will not be completely fulfilled until heaven, Jesus, during His time on earth, certainly gave many people a taste of what to expect in eternity. All who go there will know the fullness of complete health, every limb will work as it should. There will be no more sorrow or pain.
Yet the best gift right now is seeing my family, as Job said, being “feet to the lame” (29:15). They have taken over my responsibilities with great gusto (but refuse to let me to feel sorry for myself). I can relate to the Apostle Paul when he expressed his joy over the ministry of the Philippians to him. He said that he was not “looking for a gift, but looking for what may be credited to (their) account.” In other words, he rejoiced to see them demonstrating Christian virtues.
Seeing my family rallying together is a blessing. Almost all of them have said something like: “God has a purpose in this” or “There is a good reason that you can’t go on holidays right now.” It delights me that not one seems to perceive that they themselves have demonstrated some of God’s reason and purpose for my injury. Through them, I have seen and appreciated His compassion and loving kindness in a new way.