Kicking…and Screaming

Little Miss & me enjoying our socks

I stub my toes all the time. It’s to the point now, when I stub my toes, and crumple in a pile of pain, Brent will chuckle. Not because it’s funny I hurt myself, but because he is in total disbelief I stub my toes so often. Instead of “are you okay?” I’m often met with, “I don’t understand how you do that all the time.” We’re talking at least weekly. I don’t understand how it keeps happening, either, but since it is so frequent, it’s more of a running joke in our home than a legitimate concern. My children will grow up not at all worried when I kick something, cry out in pain, and end up on the floor. It will just be a “Oh, Mama stubbed her toes again.” kind of moment. 
If there is a hard, stationary object on the ground, my toes will find it. With gusto, they’ll launch themselves into it. I inevitably hit my knees to the floor, stifle several choice vocabulary words, and wait for the pain to somewhat subside before getting back up and continuing on. It’s not as if I don’t watch where I’m going, or as if I have giant disproportionate sized feet that flail about uncontrollably. For some reason, I have an unexplained magnetism built into my toes, and they can’t help but connect themselves to objects at such a speed and angle it results in momentarily crippling me.

A few years ago, I was walking into our bedroom. As I turned to pass through the doorway, I kicked the door jamb with such force, I broke one of my toes. My foot blackened, and I couldn’t put pressure on it for a long time. I walked with a limpy gait and prayed I would not stub that foot again – at least until my toe could have time to heal. Yes…I stubbed my toe so hard, it broke. If that same toe gets stubbed today, or if I rub my foot and touch it a certain way, it brings tremendous discomfort. Achilles had his weakened heel. I have my worthless toe.
Just last night, I had gotten the mail, was walking it all of three steps from the front door to the sofa, and stubbed my toe on a table leg. As I hit the ground wincing in pain, I heard the all too familiar chuckles from my husband. “Go ahead, laugh it up Mr. Empathetic” I mumbled. He said, “Well….I just don’t understand how you manage to do that so often!” I don’t either. I really don’t. Call it my “special” talent. A gift. My superpower. Gracious me, it hurts, though. I did laugh right along with him, because it is a bit ridiculous, but I was still in pain! In those few moments I was in a pile on my floor, I thought how this was a reflection of life.
Oh yes, I found a teachable moment in stubbing my toes. Stick with me.
Everything is fine, normal, and we’re going about things as we always do. Then… Whether we didn’t notice it, it just appeared, we weren’t paying attention, or it was just an accident, we get hurt. Maybe it’s not a big deal. Maybe it’s just a “little hurt”. Momentarily, it rattles us a bit, but before too long, we’re able to continue on our way. We might even forget it ever happened.
Until the next time.
We get hurt again. It catches us by surprise, comes out of nowhere, throws us for a loop. We tell ourselves we’ll be more diligent, more cautious. We build protective barriers around ourselves, we watch our step. We cautiously approach the areas we know we’ve been hurt in before. We can fix it by avoiding it altogether.
But then…guess what? We still get hurt. We still run into things we didn’t want to run into. Head on. We become shaken. How does this keep happening?! How are we not able to avoid these things, when we are so careful, so cautious, so prepared?? Beyond the protective barriers, we build reinforced walls. Sky-high, not even so much as a window, we will not allow ourselves to be hurt anymore! These occurrences chip away at us so much, in order to retain any shredded piece of who we are, we work to prevent becoming anything less. We don’t want to do anything to change who we are. What we know. It gets harder and harder to walk forward when we know we’re simply going to ache as, or more, intensely as we have before.
One day, you’ll end up thrust into a situation that is so painful, so hurtful, you will be completely broken. You didn’t expect it. You never saw it coming. Not in million years. Whether you have physical or emotional scars, the damage is done and is carried with you. For the rest of your life. And as you lie on the ground in a crumpled pile of pain, you have a choice to make.
Do you get up and try to fix it yourself? You’ve relied on yourself for so long, you don’t know any other way. Then again, you haven’t been able to solve your problems. You haven’t been able to prevent your pain, and most likely, haven’t been able to heal it, either.
Or…when you’re there, on your knees, do you cry out to the Only One who can bring beauty from ashes? The One who can redeem your brokenness and shine glory into darkness?
Do you look up and reach your hand for His? Or do you keep your head to the ground, so intently focused on finding the traps before they find you, that you miss seeing everything else? I have to say, earlier today I painted Little Miss’ toenails. She was so engrossed in watching her beautiful toes, she only kept her eyes on them as she walked to her bedroom and up the stairs for nap time. I had to physically redirect or stop her – four times – from walking head-long into a wall. That would have hurt! It’s not about where you direct your eyes or place your feet. It’s about who you’re trusting to guide you along the road.
I may be a klutz. I may actually have some bionic magnetism in my toes that draws them to rock hard objects. I’m probably a klutz, though. The thing is, there is so much in life I have no control over. So much I will never see coming. So much I will never know how to avoid, or how to handle when I walk through it. I have to choose, though. Do I keep going as if I’m invincible and deny myself experiencing anything worthwhile for fear it will bring pain? Or do I allow myself to be vulnerable enough to take what comes and seek healing in the midst of my pain?
I can wear all the steel-toed boots in the world. Eventually, I’ll have to take them off, however. Eventually, I’ll find myself vulnerable if only for a brief moment. And when I’m struck down to my knees, I hope I choose to call upon power and authority. No matter how broken I am, my only hope for healing rests within His mercy. 
I will never be so broken as when Jesus hung on the cross, dying for the world. He willingly suffered so that one day, we will no longer have to.  One day, all of this will be over. There will no longer be heartache. There will no longer be pain. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve fallen, collapsed, or otherwise ended up in a heap – faith will lead us through to the power of His promises.
Nothing could have broken me any more than when we lost Harlynn. Yet, despite that heartache, I found myself pregnant again. We could have lost Little Man. We nearly did. I nearly not only stubbed my figurative toes, but clamped them in a vice grip to spite myself. I had to have faith He would lead me through. No matter the outcome, no matter the pain, no matter the suffering I would or did endure, I had to believe He was more. He was already there. I would, one way or another, make it through to the other side.
And do you want to know what? The truth is, I’m still finding my way. I haven’t arrived. I don’t continually rely on Him to help me. I still get hurt. I still feel intense pain. I still find myself scrambling for some escape. I still stub my toes. Constantly. When I find myself in that ball of vulnerability, I sometimes choose to build more walls. To keep my head down. To be continually on the defensive. When my goal is to simply avoid being hurt again, I never succeed. 
And…I don’t have any answers. I’m not going to say “stay strong”, because as I mentioned previously, I think that’s a load of malarkey. I’m not going to tell you it will get better, because I know that’s not always the case. I’m not going to tell you to keep your chin up and focus on the positive, because sometimes life is the pits. I’m not going to tell you I’ve figured anything out, because we all know I haven’t. I will tell you when you find yourself in your pain, on the floor, clutching those good-for-nothing-toes, you don’t have to stay there. Not forever, anyway. And until you can stand up again, you call on those who will sit alongside you. Then, you call on the One who will pick you up and carry you. 
All parallelism and teachable moments aside…if you could just pray I stop stubbing my toes, my feet would thank you. I would thank you. My husband would sleep better at night knowing he didn’t marry a complete clown…

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