“Help, I Can’t Walk!” and other thoughts of panic

It is ingrained in my psyche that my value is found in what I can achieve or accomplish, perform or produce—essentially that I am measured by my output.  If anything compromises that output, I am extremely frustrated.  I hate being sick or injured—primarily because these things slow me down, and after all, what I have to do is so important, isn’t it?

I more willingly took risks before I became a mother—I went skydiving, for instance, where my greatest fear other than the parachute not opening was spraining my ankles on landing, but that was okay because there were no little people depending on me.  Fast-forward ten years of my life and I’ve become much more safety-conscious.  I don’t take unnecessary risks.  I drive more carefully.

It’s this “I must survive!” mentality that mothers can have, knowing that our little people need us.  We are not allowed to get sick, be injured, slow down—sometimes even not allowed to have needs of our own—because others are depending on us, we are the needed, we are the center around which everything in our homes and families revolve.

It is this space that Jesus enters and gently reminds us that our value is not found in what we do but in how He loves us.

We are not measured by our daily output but by His immeasurable grace.

We are not the ones desperately meeting everyone else’s needs, but the ones whose needs are met in Him.

We are not the center keeping everyone and everything spinning in perfect orbit and without us all the plates fall to the ground.  He is the center and we show our families how to lean into Him.

It’s a paradigm shift, a change of mindset, and sometimes that only happens when we can’t keep things turning anymore and all the plates do fall to the ground.  We reach the end of ourselves in a moment of frustration, which for me was:

“Help, I can’t walk!”

It was over two weeks ago now that the arch in my left foot started hurting, which I ignored and pushed through for a couple days, until it got to that point where I couldn’t ignore it any longer.  My foot was swollen and cold; it had pins and needles like it was asleep; it hurt to be touched or to put any weight on it.

To even take time off to see the doctor was frustrating for me (“I have so much to do!”) but there I was sitting in the office, he didn’t know what was wrong, the x-ray showed no broken bones, and his advice was to not put weight on it and to see if it got better in a few days.

I’m a mother of three little ones.  How do I not put weight on my foot?

I hobbled out to my mini-van in the parking lot and cried and cried.  I needed to drive to pick up my kids, to nurse and diaper the baby, to take everyone home and get them dinner.  How is this even possible?  How do I do this?

For the next few days I sat down almost all the time.  My foot didn’t noticeably improve, and I felt panicked and helpless.  There was one really bad day when the baby had a full-body rash and wouldn’t stop crying.  My husband works from home and tried to fill in the gaps where he could.  My mom visited twice.  I was so grateful for their help but felt bad for needing it.  I wanted to be up and around and living my life.

After a few days I started wearing a foot brace and could move around a little.  Another doctor surmised the pain was caused by my having flat feet and either getting a stress fracture or a tear in the tendon, either of which would take 4-8 weeks to heal.  After another week of, “I think this is improving?  Maybe?  Maybe not,” I went in for an MRI, and I’m still waiting to hear the results from that.

The reason it’s taken me two weeks to write about this is because it’s taken two weeks for my attitude to grow beyond something other than panic or frustration, and it’s still not very good.  There have been a lot of tears over wanting to do more than I can right now—even simple things like walk across the kitchen quickly, carry our baby downstairs, do a load of laundry, or clean the bathrooms.

I hate needing to ask my husband for so much help, watching my house get gradually messier, getting behind of things, and taking so long to do something simple like walk down the hallway.  I resent how something so little can affect my life so much.

And when I give way to resenting this situation—I hate this, I can’t deal with this, why is this my life?—I miss what Jesus has for me in it.

Over the weekend I sat beside someone whose sister has a brain tumor, and then had dinner with someone who badly injured his knee and needs surgery.  Both those things helped to put my life in perspective right now.  There is no denying that this is really frustrating and exhausting for me, that I can’t do a lot of basic Mom tasks, and that it’s hard not knowing what happened and how long it will take to heal.

But it’s not a tragedy, and even if it were, Jesus can meet me right here in it and say, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

How do I find rest for my soul right here, right now?  So often I am turned away, resentful and angry and just tired of hobbling around the house with my foot hurting, when instead I should be turning toward, leaning in, coming to Jesus who gives rest.  He gives all the strength and power I need for life and godliness, one day at a time.  I can reject this rest and this strength, or I can willingly and daily come to Him and say “yes” and walk through it—or in my case, hobble through it.

So that’s where I am right now, with my attitude teetering between the faith that I want to have and the frustration that so easily eclipses it.  And, this is my marvelous footwear right now.  I needed a wedge heel to balance out my foot brace.  Not quite what I had in mind when I purchased these a year ago, but this is my new look!


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