Monday, December 2, 2013

My Cane -
Control Freak Learning
to Embrace Weakness

It was last Tuesday: Thanksgiving eve’s eve.  I should have been running around like a chicken with adrenaline coursing through my veins as I channeled my inner Martha.

I should have been dotting i’s and crossing t’s.  I should have been scurrying up and down the aisles, shopping for Thanksgiving dinner.  I should have been cleaning greens and the kitchen floor, baking homemade bran rolls from scratch!

I should have been setting up my fresh Christmas tree, allowing its branches to unfurl in the living room, filling our home with its pine scent.

But God had other plans for me. Martha was sidelined, benched.  Her silver bells were replaced with silver crutches and a walker.

Everything had been on course…until Monday night, when my life and my back took a twist sending me on an unwelcome detour.  Thus began an agonizing episode with debilitating back pain.  

By Tuesday night, in an attempt to climb into the bed, I collapsed to my knees, clinging to the covers, unable to move in any direction.

I was all alone, shrieking in pain with back spasms, like a rope coiling tighter and tighter around my spine.  I clung for dear life to the side of the bed, hoping for somebody, anybody to come to my rescue.

Off in the distance, I could hear my sons regaling one another with stories, laughing uproariously, but far beyond the reach of my voice. I was helpless. 

Finally, I heard my firstborn in the hallway.  “Nate!” I cried out.  After a bit of back and forth, he came running, jaw dropping, eyes bulging as he found me clinging to the blankets like some desperate, trapped animal.

Drama ensued. And soon son two and daughter two along with Dad were all surrounding me, as if they couldn’t believe their eyes.  

I fancy myself that person who always has it together, but there are moments in life where all dignity falls to the wayside.  There I was on my hands and knees in my pajama bottoms, begging for help. There was no room for my self sufficiency here.

Gingerly, they lowered me down to the floor and I watched the carpet rush up to greet my face.

I laid there in a heap, and they set up a little palette for me of pillows and blankets. 

There was a moment of pregnant silence as they all gazed pitifully at this heap on the ground.  “Behold, thy mother!”   I wanted to sob uncontrollably.  This was not how it was supposed to be! Surely I was on the Potter’s wheel.

I heard a voice, which seemed to come from the deepest part of me, yell, “Pray!”  Surrounding me like ducklings, they prayed for me one by one. As I had been desperately clinging to the bed, even now I clung to those prayers and the strength, faith and encouragement they brought. 

Sleep came in spurts that night, as even the smallest effort set off unspeakable spasms. Eventually my husband came in the twilight hours and set up a palette right beside me.   How sweet he is! ‘Til he started snoring. J

It's been nearly a week and yet it seems like so long ago. It's propped here beside me on the chair. A cane. In my mind it represents an apparatus associated with the elderly, weak and bent over. Not something to be used by someone like me, young and vibrant.   But I am thrilled to be vertical and piddling about, sans walker and crutches.

But still, a cane by nature is an instrument of support. It is a poignant reminder of my limitations and my weakness.  It is a necessary lesson for my thick skull.  I’m the type to hit the ground running – do it now, ask questions later!

But this cane is on divine assignment. It speaks.  It instructs me that weakness and vulnerability are to be embraced, not shunned. 

It reminds me that in my weakness, God is strong; that though I may have a plan, a ‘one way’ of how life should unfold, the Sovereign God is writing my story, and carefully crafting every Act.   

And when He allows a detour, I’m rarely prepared. 

It’s like a friend who shows up unannounced.  I’m sitting there in my curlers and powdering gown, and next thing I know, good grief, there’s a knock at the door.

I wish this back episode had only called first!  How rude! 

Someone said “life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”  So last Tuesday,  instead of me pushing a shopping cart, my husband was pushing me, helpless and needy into the doctor’s office.  

And instead of Thanksgiving adrenaline, medication was pulsing through my thankful veins. And I, with my feet propped up, watched my family prepare the feast! 

Soon enough, the cane will be stored away and forgotten, and the lessons it taught hazy and distant.  For in the busyness of life, I often forget what’s most important, much like those stubborn Israelites. 

But for today, I walk with a cane. And I am not ashamed.  For like grace, it holds me up and takes me step by step, where I need to go.


  1. I love your honesty, and your humor here! I sure hope you are better than normal soon! Such a sweet picture of your family surrounding you on the floor praying for you. Happy Belated Thanksgiving to you!

  2. Thanks so much for your comment, Anne. What an encouragement. And my back is slowly making progress. So thankful to be vertical and getting about! And Happy Belated Thanksgiving to you and your family as well