On Saturday, as we packed up the last odds and ends and our friends started loading boxes into the moving truck, I fell out the door.
The dining room of our rental house has double doors but a single step onto the patio. We always kept the step-less door closed, until Saturday, when we were moving furniture.
I went down hard on my ankle, spent the rest of the day on the floor, and the early evening in the ER: sprained, not broken, but a boot and crutches until I’m pain-free.
I’m in some pain, but mostly I am just mad. I’ve been looking forward to unpacking and organizing this house, our house, our very own house, for the last two months. I’ve arranged it in my head, dreamed of what I’ll put on the open shelves in the kitchen and where I will hang which curtains. Four days into our move, and I’m still on the couch with my leg up. I can’t even carry our baby.
As I wander about the house on crutches, looking at boxes I want to unpack, I learn a lesson in lovely contrast to my lesson of a week ago: I am weak. I cannot do or be all that I desire. Sometimes I can’t even get myself a glass of water.
I am enough, but not enough.
This week I have been overwhelmed with gratitude. For this house, which fits our family just exactly right. For my family at Open Door, who had our entire truck packed and then unpacked in two hours. For my sister, here from Charlotte, who I trust to organize my house for me more than anyone else in the world.
I am mad, but I am grateful. I am strong, and I am weak. So often the things I feel and the things I learn seem like opposites, but they are often two sides of one coin.
I expected to enter my new neighborhood competent, confident, organized, and strong. I planned neighborhood walks and dinners out front right away. Instead, the first view my neighbors had of me was my sister pushing me from the car to the house in a jogging stroller. I entered helpless.
What am I to learn from my weakness?
A friend of mine asked me the other day what I’ve been praying for recently. She said that sometimes bumps in the road like this are answers to prayer.
I was puzzled. I have been praying for wisdom in parenting.
Yesterday I started to put some of the pieces together.
I spent the morning on the couch with my leg up, answering question after question from Everett about death. “When will we die? Will we all be together? What will it feel like when God takes off our shoulders?” (We talked about getting new bodies.) At one point he turned his tearful blue eyes on mine: “But I will miss you, Mama.”
In the afternoon, at the end of a rough day for naps, I rocked my sweet, sniffly Asher to sleep in my arms. And because I had no choice, because I couldn’t carry him to his crib and let him sleep there, I stayed. I sat and rocked with him in my arms and I read a book. The sweetness of his snores and his soft cheeks and the way his eyelashes lay just so and those few hairs behind his left ear that are just a little longer than the rest… I soaked him in.
Did I twist my ankle so I would pay attention to my kids instead of putting the whole house together in a two-day whirlwind? I don’t know. I do know that I twisted my ankle because I was moving too fast and not paying attention to what was in front of me. I’m still mad, but seeing my children, really seeing them, is a gift.
And so, as I rely on those around me to care for me and my children, my prayer from last week changes:
You are strong. I am weak. Sustain us.