At 16 years old I became aware that I was indestructible, immortal and beyond all restraints of other mere mortals. It was an amazing feeling. Until of course I found out I really wasn’t any of those things.
It’s a sobering feeling to be awoken from a delusion. As most teenage boys – I really did believe I was better than the rest of the world. Nothing could touch me. No one could tell me what to do. I was invincible. AND then came my real awakening from the dream. In a most sobering, humiliating fashion… just months after turning 16 and feeling the freedom of having a car and an open road to take me wherever I wanted to go (as long as it was within 30 miles of the house and I could be back before my 10 pm curfew). IT happened. For years I would lie about what IT was. IT was just too embarrassing. I made up very elaborate cover stories to tell those who asked. IT was an injury. Even as I type this I find myself tempted to type the old lie. It actually got to the point that I had told the lie so many times – I believed it myself. I could tell it without even batting an eye.
So what was IT? IT was an injury. One that took me months to recover from. One that left me in bed for 2 months and on crutches for another two. To a 16 year old boy – one of the worst things of it all was that it happened right at the beginning of the summer of my 16th year. Spending a summer in a cast that runs from your butt to your ankle is no fun for anyone – but for a teenager with a newly acquired set of wheels – devastation.
As you can imagine – the injury was serious to my leg. Not life threatening by any means – but it wasn’t easy to heal. My knee cap on my right leg had been torn off. When we went to the doctor and he examined my leg – he said right away – you’re going to need surgery. He followed it up right away though – sensing my anxiety – that I didn’t need to worry… It would be a quick surgery and I would wake up with an “ace bandage around my knee.” That didn’t necessarily erase all anxiety – but it did help. But see back in olden days – before all of the current medical advancements you youngsters enjoy today – we relied on doctors using Magic 8 Balls to make their diagnosis. “Does this kid need surgery?” “Signs point to yes.” “Will he need a cast on his leg?” “Reply hazy, try again.” I think in the latter question to his medicinal Magic 8 Ball – he got busy and forgot to ask again. I woke up after what became a very complicated surgery, with a full cast – from hip to ankle. Summer gone. Driving gone. Life… over.
So the point of this is not how it happened – but I am sure you are wondering. I’ll make the true story brief and the stupid lie even briefer. The truth is that my knee cap was torn off in a softball game. Yes – the version of baseball that girls play (or at least that’s how I thought of it when I was injured). The timing of the injury was spectacular really… Playing 3rd base. The second baseman catches a fast ground ball and throws crazy high to me to tag the runner on his way to 3rd. I jump to catch the ball and come down on the edge of the bag rolling my ankle and I fall to the ground on my side as the runner is almost to the bag… His cleat catches the side of my knee cap – and… pop goes the weasel. Out go the lights. (My lie version to cover the embarrassment of being hurt in a “GIRL’s GAME” was … “it’s a football injury.” … At least to those who didn’t know that I didn’t play football.)
The lesson I learned that summer – which was a good one to learn – was that I in fact was not superhuman. I could in fact be injured. I was not, after all, immune to the restraints of our human condition. I found out – that I was indeed – weak. I didn’t know the value of the lesson then. I hated God at that time of my life. Spending my long summer reading scripture would have been the absolute last thing I would have considered doing. If I could only go back and tell my young foolish self what I know now…
2 Corinthians 12:9 says “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.”… Weakness to me then was something I would NEVER admit. Even in my injury. Today however I know different. I still struggle with it lots. I find myself pretending at times that I am the one in control; that I am the one that is going to rescue something; that I am able to do all things by myself. And then I awake from my delusion. And I turn it back over to God.
My knee still gives me problems from time to time but it serves as a good reminder to me that I am not indestructible… And it gives me a great excuse to get out of playing on the coed softball teams…
Now I accept that I am weak. I know that no matter how many times I might ask that Magic 8 Ball “Is God taking care of me, of this, of everything?” The answer will always come up “It is decidedly so.”