Tuesday, June 12, 2012

We All Fall Down

Photo credit: stock.xchng
If you're a mom, you already know this--motherhood requires multi-tasking. So, frequently when one of the kids practices, the other two kids and I also try to squeeze in some exercise. Last spring I found myself scheduled to attend yet another flag football practice on a gorgeous spring evening. I loaded up all three kids, one scooter, and a bike and donned my running shoes. While Jot practiced with his buds in the large field behind our church, Justice rode his scooter and Jewel sang songs while riding her bike in the empty parking lot on the far side of the church. A lovely neighborhood sits beside our church, so I can run the curvy streets while still keeping an eye on the kids as I loop around the parking lot every quarter mile.

Just into the beginning of my third lap it happened. "Skillet" spilled from my iPod into my left ear (gotta keep the right one free to hear traffic or the kiddos) and  the sun warmed my face as a light breeze made for enjoyable running weather. I rounded the corner on the tiny stretch of busy roadway that I had to travel into the the sub-division. Before I even had time to prepare myself, I sprawled in the gutter. It seems there was a thin metal circle hidden in the silt along the side of the road. My left foot stepped on it and the toe of my right foot caught in the follow-through. It effectively hobbled me and threw me to the ground before I even knew what happened. Like most adults do, I hopped up, scanning the horizon and wondering if anyone saw my spill. I dusted off my scratched and pebble-encrusted hands and peered at the nice-sized tear on the knee of my running pants. (And wouldn't you know it, these were my favorite pair of pants--the ones that made me look skinny!)

I finished my lap and as I neared the kids I yelled and asked if they had seen me fall down. They hadn't seen a thing so they were full of questions as to where and when this all played out. "Did you get hurt?"

I showed them my road-rashed hands and my ripped pants. "Pull up your pant leg!" yelled Justice, just a little too enthusiastically, I thought.

As I yanked up the leg of my grey running pants, I notice the blood trickling down to my sock. Upon further inspection, a deep abrasion graced my right knee. The kids were totally enthralled. They asked to see it again, as soon as I'd lowered the fabric. So I hauled it up again and sported my injury.

"Does it hurt?" they wanted to know.

"How did you do it again?" they inquired.

"Where were you?"

"Did anyone see you?"

It seemed as though I couldn't answer their questions quick enough. Why all this interest in their fumbling momma? As we returned to pick up Jot from practice, they announced it to the other moms and dads then raced to be the first to tell Jot of my wounded status.

It took several weeks for the wound to totally heal and the scar still hasn't totally faded. Over that spring and summer my kids would frequently ask to see my knee or have me repeat the story of how I fell.

Like He usually does if I'm willing to listen, God taught me some lessons through my fall and my children's reaction to it. God reminded me that He can use our falls, injuries, failings, and wounds to teach others. My kids didn't have to take a tumble themselves to learn that sometimes danger hides in everyday places. They didn't need to feel my pain to understand that we must always be cautious no matter how safe we may think we are.

God also reminded me that my kids need to see me vulnerable. I'm a strong, independent farm wife, so usually I just get things done myself. I don't like to rely on others. My kids don't often see me hurt or unable to care for myself--but they need to. They needed to see that sometimes I get hurt. Sometimes even their Mom falls down. They needed to see me tend a wound and to ruin a pair of pants and to squish my eyes closed when I poured peroxide on that road rash. They delighted in seeing my human-ness.

And God showed me in living color the truth of  2 Corinthians 1:3-4: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. My kids were full of ways to help me find comfort in spite of my injury. True to their personalities, Justice gave advice ("Wear shorts so it doesn't rub."), Jewel drew me pictures, and Jot smooshed his head against my cheek and patted my back. My past run-ins with the pavement were far-removed but my kids knew all too well what it felt like to come face-to-face (or knee) to the asphalt.

God used that spill for a lot of good in my life and in the lives of my kids. I wear my scar with honor. How about you? Has God ever used pain in your life to teach you (or someone else) a lesson?

Nikki Studebaker Barcus