It’s been a long week – and I’m not referring to the recent election furor.
Yesterday, my husband went in for a hip replacement surgery. He’s thirty, and we’ve been anticipating/dreading this surgery since he was diagnosed with a degenerative bone disease ten years ago. He’s lived with constant pain from his steadily decaying, collapsing joints for the last decade. He decided early on that, instead of removing himself from life to try and save himself suffering, he would use every moment he had to bless others, especially the youth he’s gifted to work with. I’ve watched and assisted as he’s bravely chosen to pursue his teaching career and sword-fighting activities with kids, reaching out to the regular and misfit children alike and giving them a safe place to have fun, learn honor and discipline, and receive the love of Christ.
The surgery went well. Entirely routine, no complications. However, what stunned me was these words from the surgeon:
“His hip was crumbling into fragments.”
It was one thing to know the surgery was a likely possibility. As his wife, I knew Stephen’s pain level had grown steadily higher. Still, I call him a beagle – you’ll never know he’s in pain because he works so consistently on spreading love and kindness to others.
Even though I’d been by his side for ten years, doing a lot of the lifting and physical work to help him, it was startling to be reminded of how physically fragile and weak my husband really is.
And I realized how much more I need to rely on the grace of God and the fellowship of a community.
We all encounter things we don’t expect to happen. And sometimes what scares us most isn’t the idea that our world will end. It’s the realization that we are human. Fragile. Vulnerable. That is what cuts us to the core, more than physical stress or issues. It’s helplessness. It’s staring at someone you love in a hospital bed and knowing that you can’t will them to heal any quicker. It’s realizing that you can’t undo the damage of the past, the hurtful words of others. You can’t solve all the problems of a country even if you could make everyone see the way you do.
You can’t save anyone the pain that will be involved in life. You can’t solve all the problems.
This is what also makes us human. Makes us need to rely on a Creator. Makes us realize how precious others are in our lives and convicts us of all the times we haven’t shown kindness to others who are going through their own issues, often silently. Of the times we might have inflicted those issues, unknowingly.
In my current writing project, I’ve struggled with the inciting incident.
Usually people think of a problem. Mess up the main character’s life! Create disasters! Make conflict!
But in this case, the main character has hit absolute bottom personally, professionally, socially, spiritually. She is fighting a battle she is unable to win, but she can’t give up, because she doesn’t see anyone else to do that job. She’d rather keep failing, over and over, than give up. Even though it costs her everything.
And finally, I realized that she didn’t need another disaster. The biggest, most profound change in her life would be kindness from others. Companionship. Encouraging words. Strong, compassion guidance to get her out of the rut of the same mistakes and old temptations and into a new pattern of living.
She needed all aspects of sacrificial love.
In the end, don’t we all?
Whether veterans or civilians, whatever your race, color, creed, sexuality, socio-economic status, background, personal struggles, addictions, weaknesses, frailties, or stresses, I pray that you find hope. I pray for companionship. I pray for compassionate intervention into any unhealthy patterns or sins and for grace to live each day knowing that you are valued and made in the image of One who holds eternity.