Pick Me Up

Quite a few years ago (and we won’t focus on just how many that is), my mom went into premature labor before seven months of pregnancy had passed.  After giving birth to a new baby girl, she asked the doctors, “Is it alive?”.  She did not ask if the baby was a boy or a girl; her fears and concerns kept her from asking the customary question in the circumstances.  The doctors foretold the future of that little baby girl as one of not likely to live and certainly as one of not likely to be a success in life.  The future looked rather bleak, if there was a future at all.  The poverty of circumstances and the lack of understanding of what was needed seemed to be just two of the nails in the inevitable coffin that was sure to come. 

Three years later, I was at the doctors for a common cold or some such other common ailment when that physician immediately noticed the bigger issue and began to take action.  Until then, I had been termed as “lazy” and “retarded” and my mother was instructed to put me in an institution for I would never amount to anything.  But it was on this visit that the physician diagnosed me with cerebral palsy (which simply put, is brain damage).  With the correct diagnosis came proper treatment.  I was sent to physical therapy twice a week; my mother was instructed on giving me PT at home which she did three times a day.  I was put in the metal leg braces such as those used in Forrest Gump.  And I stood and walked on my own for the very first time in my life at the age of three years old.  Up until that time I had crawled or been carried everywhere I went.  Growing up, I was more familiar with doctors and medical professionals and assistive devices than I was with friends and play and laughter typical to childhood.  My body is dotted with more scars from procedures and from falling than some of you are with tatoos and piercings.  (My “tatoos and piercings” were free; I bet you can’t say that!)

You may notice that at times I have more strength and balance than on other days.  You may see me struggling to take the simplest step and overcome the smallest obstacle. You may notice me wearing orthopedic shoes and molded polypropylene bilateral articulating ankle-foot orthoses (braces) on some days and on others just off-the-shelf shoes.  There may be times that I will hold onto you or some object for support and in spite of all this, inevitably you will witness me falling, sooner or later. 

I share this not to alarm or to burden or to bring focus to myself; I know that God has given me this in my life as a gift of His presence and power.  The scars, the braces, the hands that help keep me balanced and moving forward are all visual reminders that God alone is my strength and that I am totally dependent upon Him.  But,

when you see me stumble and fall, please pick me up with loving hands and arms of strength. 
Wearing orthopedic shoes and leg braces may feel confining and uncomfortable and altogether ugly and will ruin a perfectly put-together outfit and it may appear to take away from my feminity.  Medical surgeries have meant pressing the pause button and being restructured physically so that I could later return to walking with new stability.  Daily and weekly sessions with therapy have meant submitting to the discipline of being stretched and challenged in my own private, personal battle.  There is no room for shame in needing support; there is no room for pity.  Neither of those two elements are from God.  But,

when you see me stumble and fall, please pick me up with loving hands and arms of strength. 
Isn’t that what God does for all of us?  He knows that we are frail and feeble; He knows our strengths and weaknesses.  As our Great Physician, He alone can diagnose us and begin proper treatment.  He has at His disposal all that is necessary for each of us to stand and to walk and to move forward in ministry, in life, and in personal relationships.  There is no room for shame or for pity.  Neither of those elements are from God.  But:

Do you need surgery, a time of pressing the pause button and being restructured so that you can later return to walking with new stability?
Do you need therapy, a time of discipline of being stretched and challenged in your own personal battle?
Do you need assistive devices, people to come along side you to set boundaries and to disciple you in how to walk in strength so that you are race worthy?

Are you allowing the restraints that God has put on your life to take away from your femininty or masculinity, or from your testimony as a royal daughter or son?
Are you allowing your weaknesses and neediness, the poverty of circumstances and the lack of understanding of what is needed, to become nails in your own coffin, the coffin of others or the coffin of public ministry?
Are you allowing yourself to believe and act as if that some person or some thing is going to fulfill, complete and stabilize you, when in reality it is the Great Physician that you need to cling to?
Are your fears and concerns keeping you from asking the customary questions of your circumstance?

When you see yourself stumble and fall, please allow God to pick you up with loving hands and arms of strength.

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