“You’re a warrior. That’s what your body tells me,” Forooz said as she knocked my arm out of its spot in the air. Over and over, I failed at resisting her small bit of force for these little exercises.
I had one of —no, the—worst of a series of near-nightly nightmares before driving in the rain to a new place and meeting her. So I embarrassingly scrounged for what could have given her the inkling that I was a fighter with my twig figure and soft muscles.
“A warrior! You worry.”
“Oh! A worrier—I thought you were saying warrior! That’s why I was confused. Worrier, yes, that sounds much more appropriate.”
She had begun my inaugural acupuncture session sitting down with me, asking a question. “If you could choose any problem physically to address—what would it be?” I hesitated as I have no chronic ailments, have never broken a bone or suffered a serious illness. “Stress, anxiety…”
Yep. Yep. Yep, yes, that’s the one.
“You’re all stressed! What are all of you doing?! It’s work stress!” she said with all the worn-in love of a mom of two grown sons (ages 35 and 32). Technically, I don’t even work, and I do what I love.
I’m not a person who believes you can indeed find someone somewhere in the world to solve each of your problems, especially not in a short session. (Not sure how long she left me in that dim room with needles in…) I believe that that power and glory of surpassing healing belongs to God and to His omniscient, loving will alone.
But it hurts, doesn’t it? To hear that it’s written on you—brokenness.
You can text your best friends asking for prayer. You can cry as you wake up and finish before it’s time to get ready. Nixing makeup is handy for later onslaughts of tears, and it’s trendy to love yourself in that way. Rainy weather makes it romantic even, especially with wispy hair; that’s what I think.
The shame of being incomplete seems to pierce more sharply when another points it out with simple honesty, no condemnation. The weight of what we constantly bear, the pain we habitually attempt to manage, is familiar from every angle, and your mind is not free.
I don’t think I’ve ever been good at hiding feelings (even if I feel blank), and even in sarcasm, I always tell the truth in an ensuing laugh, however trivial the fact may be. Somehow it’s still jarring for someone to acknowledge the obvious that I am soft and weak, and that bearing difficult things does not necessarily build strength.
At age 26, Katherine Wolf, then a healthy young wife and new mother was blindsided with a massive brainstem stroke while her baby boy slept in the other room. It was a miracle she survived through an emergency 16-hour brain surgery, her loving husband Jay by her side. They give every credit to God for His overwhelming grace in the journey that has since been their life, relearning talking, walking, swallowing.
I think it was last spring that I had the privilege of getting to hear her speak, the day I learned she existed! She was hilarious and encouraging and engaging and emotional. She gave so many gems of wisdom and I have them written in a sketchbook somewhere, but the one that stuck out to me most was this: that in her wheelchair and with an uneven facial structure and with slurred speech, she said it was a unique gift to be a picture of something out of whack, something kind of broken. Something visually representative of what we all are inside, fractured, awkward, vulnerable and sometimes a little too loud about it.
Something clearly, unapologetically, joyfully marking a need, a need for a Savior, and the receiving of Him freely.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
—2 Corinthians 12:9
I am not promised perfect sleep. I am not promised things to get “easier.” I’m not promised that everyone will understand, empathize. I am not promised to win anything in any worldly recognizable way. If I do, well that’s cool in a boxy sort of way, but what I am promised is this:
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Praise God my life isn’t in my feeble hands, but His. All that I am created and expected to be is a receiver of incredible mercy.
Special thanks to ZB for saying Hey let’s do this, and to HH and RW for being on call whenever, wherever.