Body Image (3): Greatest Body, Wounded Parts

“Helper” carries my crutches for me and needs a rest.

My friend, Russ Lucier, who blogs over @Rejoicing Bones writes about his journey of recovery after a motorcycle accident in 2017. This article first appeared on his site. I encourage you to be encouraged by Russ and visit his site. Lord Bless!

This is the third and final installment of the Body Image series.  I write this for the wounded who find it difficult to push forward.  Not just for them, but for those who know someone who is wounded and finding it difficult to move forward.  We can feel so compelled to serve Christ, which we should, but sometimes limitations fall on us and that becomes a troublesome thing.   

Let’s look at this in relation to the Body, the Body of Christ, the Church.  I will try to keep things simple by getting to a main point made by 18th century theologian and revivalist John Wesley: “we are closely connected together in Christ and consequently ought to be helpful to each other.”  That was his comment on Romans 12:5.   

Paul writes a similar message to the Corinthians and says to each person that their “unique manifestation of the Spirit” is given for the common good.  (1 Corinthians 12:7).  He describes different ways people are gifted and then likens them to body parts in order to diffuse strife that has built up from jealousy over gifts.  Paul makes it clear that each one receives different gifts, each for a particular, unique and important purpose.  For the sake of unity, he writes, “…so that there should be no division among the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”  He goes on to say that if one part suffers, every part suffers with it.   

I remember standing on my legs and trying to walk 2 meters between parallel bars while trying to recover from my motorcycle accident.  My right leg, though broken much more badly than my left, was stronger because it had a “Taylor Spatial Frame” on it.  It held my leg together like a strong exoskeleton.  It was the leg that made full weight-bearing possible and allowed me to stand.  It took up weight for my left leg, which had no intact ligaments to speak of and a dislocated knee cap.  I look around the church and see people who, despite having issues of their own, prop up those who are even weaker.  God, bless those people.   

I have video footage of my first steps.  My arms were recruited to pull the rest of the body into a standing position.  They had to work very hard to do so.  Then, to walk those mere two meters, my arms carried virtually all of my weight, as my legs were wasted away.  Arms are not made for walking.  Their muscle mass is much smaller than the legs’ and designed to do other things.  After a few labored steps, all of my energy was drained and I trembled under the strain.  I look around the church and I see people who have to do work designed for someone else because that someone else is unable to.  God bless those people.   

Over the last two years of using a wheelchair and crutches to propel my body, my shoulder has become weary from overuse.  I try to strengthen my upper back muscles, which helps, but make no mistake: it’s life span will suffer.  The shoulder, the hero, has been sacrificing itself for a lengthy period of time for the benefit of the rest of the body.  How else could the rest of the body be as useful if it could not get around?  I look around the church and see people bearing one another’s burdens at cost to themselves.  God bless those people. 

My legs serve to illustrate what has happened to me in the church.  Because of the injuries to them, the acquired disability, the resulting mental health struggles and other complicated knock-on effects, I feel I have been taken out of commission.  For years I served in the armed forces, supervising as many as 63 people.  The most rewarding aspect of my role was the pastoral care involved.  The second most rewarding role I found myself in was teaching.  After retirement, I eventually found my way to education in a pastoral care role.  But since the accident, I have not successfully returned to work for a substantial period of time so now there seems to be a great void from not exercising the gifts I feel I have.   

To make this more of a concern, I have recently stepped down from a leadership role in a fledgling ministry because further life-changing operations await.  Staying in the role would have caused the mission to suffer because it won’t get my undivided attention or full strength.  I am broken-hearted over this.  The feeling of uselessness and failure comes in waves, even though I know these feelings are not legitimate.  

So what do we make of these seasons when our wounds (be they, physical, mental, emotional or even spiritual) take us out of action?  Any suggestions or principles I propose here can feel like hard-to-swallow medicine.  Here’s what I’m thinking.  I hope they are helpful to you: 

  • God is sovereign.  He doesn’t need our service.  That sounds harsh, but it’s true.  He has everything he needs to live happily forever.  He desires our hearts.  David says something like that in Psalm 51:16-17.  See, our gifts and services (done in joy, by the way) are for the greater good of the church and the church is to glorify God through the Great Commission.  If something that is beyond our control inhibits us, having an understanding of this principle can take the pressure off!
  • God is sovereign.  He does everything for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).  That includes anything that’s going on and whatever our wounds are.  Just remember too, that, according to the next verse, the aim is to be conformed to the image of his Son.  That’s a glorious thing.  Incidentally, that will include having a body, mind and soul that doesn’t get wounded at all!   
  • God is sovereign.  (Have I said that yet)?  He is very economical and orchestrates many things together for the good of many people at the same time.  That includes those who get to support you and do the work you would have done under different circumstances.  Though it may be extra challenging for them, they will also grow and become more conformed to the image of Christ.   

So take heart my friends, my brothers, my sisters.  Do what you can and don’t give up.  Pray.  The rest of the body needs it.   

A Blogging Opportunity

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Writing runs in our family and here is an excellent opportunity to have a chance to blog for GovLoop, the company my daughter works for. In fact, she wrote this blog and it is my feature blog for today. You can learn more about GovLoop by clicking on this link.

Comments are disabled here. If you are interested at the bottom of this post is direct contact information. Have a great day!

CALLING ALL WRITERS! BECOME A GOVLOOP FEATURED BLOGGER!

At GovLoop, we pride ourselves on our community. There are over 250,000 of you — government employees, industry partners, and knowledge experts — who are extremely engaged. You comment on nearly a thousand posts and discussions each month. You talk to each other in the comments about your experiences, dreams and tips. You share your ideas, and inspire one another to be better and do more in the public sector.
Many of you are also prolific GovLoop bloggers. You write about everything from open source in your agency, to best leadership practices, to innovation in government. We here at GovLoop love your blog posts (we’re sort of obsessed with them, actually), and look forward to the new, great contributions we know we’ll be seeing every day.
And it’s exactly because your contributions to GovLoop are so terrific, and so valuable, that we’re looking to expand on them. Today, we’re announcing the twelfth round of the GovLoop Featured Blogger Challenge.
We’ve already had a very successful eleven runs of this program with nearly 180 amazing GovLoop Featured Bloggers (whose posts you can read here) and we’re looking to keep the momentum going with a bunch of fresh, fascinating new voices who can write about everything from the best way to hold a meeting in the government to how to create the most effective individual development plan.
The details: We’re looking for 15 (or more!) great GovLoop voices to blog once a week for the GovLoop community throughout April, May and June. We want you to write about subjects you think are important — from experiences at your agency, to the way big data is impacting your job, to tips on how to increase fed engagement — really, anything that strikes your fancy. If it’s important to you, it’s important to us, and we want it on GovLoop.
What’s in it for you? A lot (we think — but we’re biased!). In addition to having your writing read by our community of 250,000, you’ll get:
A featured homepage slot on GovLoop every time you post

Promotion of your posts to our social network communities (and we’ll promote your handles, too)

Recognition of your efforts and status via a special GovLoop Featured Blogger banner

A package of free GovLoop swag (t-shirts, stickers, and more)

Great published clips, and a great line on your resume

A free, half-hour career counseling and resume review session with GovLoop founder Steve Ressler

Feedback, writing tips and blog guidance from our Director of Content

If you’re interested in entering, it’s easy. All you have to do is email courtney@govloop.com with three blog post ideas, a writing sample, and your resume. Please use the subject line “GovLoop Featured Blogger.”
Any questions? Leave a comment on this post, or tweet @GovLoop. We look forward to your ideas, thoughts, and content, and can’t wait to see what comes next.
We’ll be accepting applications until March 24th. Those chosen as featured bloggers will be notified the week of March 27th. Featured bloggers will need to start writing once a week starting the week of April 17th and will finish their stint in the beginning of July.

 

The Room

Today I am featuring a guest writer, my daughter, Courtney. We both enjoy writing. While I must consistently work at writing, she has a true gift. She inspires and challenges me to become the writer I truly want to be. I hope you enjoy this short story. Remember…..there is ALWAYS hope.

            The door of the fifteenth room of the first building on the corner of J and 10th street is white with blue trim. Inside sits a woman and a young man, she in a chair he on a bed. She stares blankly at the cream wall behind his head while his gaze rests on the framed photograph that she cradles in her lap as if it were a child.

Her eyes in the photograph are years younger than the eyes that stared through him now. Her arms danced through his and settled at the base of his waist in an embrace. The woman’s lips were parted to reveal the mouth that the young man knew so well. His own mouth settled into a poignant line as he took in her image and twisted into a grimace when he met his own reflection. The boy who met his gaze had questions in his young eyes that begged to be answered. His lanky body clad in swimwear did not fit next to the woman as well as she wished it did. The young man looked passed the twosome in the photo and into the waves that crashed behind them. The picture’s background went from brown to blue to purple to black as the sand gave way to a bruised sunset and the young man let out a tired snicker as he remembered how accurately it portrayed the walls of his soul. The young man thought about the events that followed that picture being captured. How the wrinkly woman who took the photo commented on how they were so handsome, believing them to be siblings.  And how after the sagging lady had left them the woman led him to a natural grotto and he took off her flowery swim bottoms, just like her father had so many years before him. He remembered the spirals of smoke as they sat against the wall of the cave and shared cigarettes afterwards; she looking into the smoke, grasping on to what had just happened while he tried to forget.

The boy would learn later about Freud and all his theories and he would sit down alone in his dark room and try. But as it usually goes he could not choose which memories he got to keep and which ones to send away. Someone once told the boy that if you don’t remember an event then it couldn’t have really happened. So he kept trying. Quite predictably, his attempts to repress his memories with her proved to be futile; they continued to swim through his mind in a pool of vivid color that he desperately wished would fade to black.

The young man sighed and met the gaze of the woman whose attention he had caught with his movement. The right side of her lips curved into a tentative smile.

“The orderly who gave me directions to your room said it was so nice that the long lost older sister she had heard so much about had finally made it back into town to see you.”

The young man’s heavy chest heaved out a sigh. He didn’t know why he told the orderlies about her. He liked to imagine it was because he knew that she needed to be discussed in order to live on and he was the only one left to discuss her. He could make up whatever details he wanted to about her, lessening the weight she left on his soul.

As much as she had done he couldn’t let all of her die to him.

“I wish I could say the same.”

Her face fell slightly and she shifted in her chair. The young man wasn’t necessarily displeased to see her but what he felt when she crept her head around his door a few hours previous was not pleasure.

“This place is a lot better than the one I was in after…” she trailed off as she stroked the frame of the photograph and let her eyes drift over the linoleum floor.

His chest extended once more as his eyes followed her fondling hands to the photograph.

“You know after that day,” he started nodding to the photograph, “when all this happened,” he exhaled as he spread his arms across the bedspread.

“They told me to write, just to write whatever I was thinking and you know since that,” he again nods to the photograph, “had just happened I wrote about that day.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.”

He was not going to offer up the words scratched into the legal pad that lay in the bottom drawer of the nightstand to his right so he raised his eyes to hers and kept them steady until she said, “well show me.”

Slowly the young man shifted his weight and reached over to unearth the legal pad that bore his soul. He flipped the cover over to the first page, lifted his eyes to hers, looked back down and began reading in his recently deepened voice.

The first thing you hear are the crickets, somewhere in the distance. Inhale exhale. The smoke is harsh on your tongue and light on the air. The raindrops penetrate. The crickets wing’s rubbing together remind you of another. Skin. Skins? Yours on mine. The tobacco on the paper. The two things, among others, that defined our lives. The waves are approaching you. You imagine the water skirting up onto the sand and drenching you but at the last second the waves retreat and you remain untouched. There’s disappointment in your eyes. You think it’s probably better to feel something than nothing at all. You move towards me and I away from you. Tonight I decided it for us, which was probably better because you wouldn’t have done it yourself. You look down and realize that your cigarette is almost gone and flick the end and go in for the final drag. Each piece of ash twirls down into the earth, spellbound. I was spellbound by you. Not from the first moment I met you. But that’s what made it so special. You took the time to become wrapped up in me. Unfortunately this means that when you unraveled you took me with you. Your cigarette is gone now so we say goodbye. First you. Then me. Then you watch as your delusion drifts away in the cloud of smoke you just exhaled and disperses at the end of its run. I watch too, slowly gazing into the rain.

The woman’s eyes drooped as she shifted them to meet the young man’s. She pursed her lips anticipating words but none came so she dropped her head, resigned.

“I forgive you.”

She nodded her still lowered head up and down, her shoulders heaving into the motion; a dry sob escaped her mouth. The only sound for several minutes was the rustling of the legal pad as the young man moved it from his lap back to its place in the bottom drawer.

“I’m sorry.”

“No you’re not.”

Her head rose sharply and her eyes penetrated him like none had before. He didn’t know how far she had come to say those words to him. She was better and she wanted him to understand.

But she wasn’t better, her presence in that room, his home, betrayed her. The little girl who let her daddy slide off her flower print panties, who never whimpered once, replaced the woman in the chair. Their eyes met once more, her irises that were stained black by the union of pain and memory met his that couldn’t move past gray. The photograph dropped from her lap as the little girl got up and the glass shattered as it met the linoleum floor. She slowly stepped over the shards towards the young man and his bed.

As she approached him the young man laughed, deep and guttural. Her lanky frame extended towards his that filled the twin bed. He laughed on as she climbed in next to him and as he danced his arms into hers and rested them at the base of her waist. He laughed as she curled into him, a fragile stem of a wilting flower that he could so easily end.

The woman settled and the young man stopped laughing. Her tears came slowly; the whimpers she had never before emitted came first. Then, as fits of tears often do, she escalated and was soon shaking the bed with her sobs. The woman couldn’t stop there though, decades of unshed tears tore themselves from her body and despite how tight the young man held her, her tears started to shake the room. The desk rattled to his right, the legal pad in the bottom drawer commingling with his loose sketches of various hotels they had stayed at together. Her howls filled the halls and soon the building started to sway, back and forth as she convulsed in and out of the young man’s chest.

He held her but did not stroke her hair or hold her hand. He led her through the fit until it was over. Her howls turned to sobs that turned to whimpers that turned to silence. She rocked herself back and forth as her life quieted. Then she was still and so was the building and the room and the bed and her soul.

As the woman settled herself into his chest and allowed her eyelids to fall, the young man’s gaze dropped onto the shattered memory on the linoleum. He lifted his eyes up and allowed them to look around the cracked door and into the hallway. His gaze kept going until it found the stairs at the end of the hall and climbed them down to the ground level. It rested on the large double doors that had welcomed him in so many years ago. With little hesitation, his gaze went through the doors and out into the rain.