I’m Super Humble

We have a few beautiful traditions during the opening ceremonies at BFA, and I love being a part of the staff procession before the seniors have the more memorable entrance with the flags of the various countries represented by our student body. It’s really wonderful to watch the seniors walk in waving flags with friends and parents cheering. This year, the staff switched up their entrance point and route through the auditorium. I didn’t think much of it, and I lined up near the front with my friends at the appointed time, planning to walk through the auditorium with the staff then turn left to the patio and make my way to my office to get my wheelchair for the remainder of the ceremony.

I was laughing away with coworkers as one regaled us all with stories of teaching in Mexico before coming to Germany. It was a nice distraction from the fact that we were standing well beyond the expected ten minutes. I felt a couple leg spasms while I stood on the uneven brick, but I knew the moment I sent someone to get me a chair would be the moment they started the procession, so I decided to suck it up and stand my ground. We finally started in, and I kept up with my peers ahead of me while battling the right foot shaking every couple of steps. As we reached the back of the auditorium, another coworker directed staff to seats and nodded to me as I whispered I was off to get the wheelchair. I took a couple steps onto the patio and wobbled.

I caught myself part way before I wobbled again.

Then I hit the brick.

In front of a whole row of seniors lined up ready to process down the auditorium aisle.

I was immediately swarmed by staff, and was relieved that I could see Hunter and direct him to get my wheelchair because I knew he’d do it with no hesitation. We’re going to get a little uncomfortable at this point. I was still surrounded by well meaning coworkers who were repeatedly asking me if I was okay because none of them believed me the first eighteen times I told them that I was fine. I looked up at the shocked teenagers and said a little louder for their benefit, “Guys, I’m fine! Smile, you’re about to go in! Don’t worry about me!” Several closed their gaping maws and offered me a thumbs up in response.

My office is not far from where I fell, but it took longer than ten seconds for Hunter to return, so lots of people kept offering me help I didn’t need. What I needed was my wheelchair, which was on its way, and the best thing would have been for me to lay on the ground until it arrived, but that was freaking out too many well meaning bystanders, so I begrudgingly got to my knees to wait for Hunter. Honestly, that was the most damage of the day because in the fall, all that happened was a broken nail – and an itty bitty scrape on my right palm. However, kneeling on the brick left red marks on my knees the remainder of the day that didn’t need to be there. Standing wouldn’t have helped to wait for the chair, but no one believed me in the moment that laying on the ground, despite looking stupid, was the best thing for me to do. The adrenaline jolt would have made standing impossible because the spasms returned the moment they felt pressure on my feet.

I’d like to take a moment to highlight how my actual friend Heather responded in the moment. She saw me surrounded by coworkers, came into my view, and said, “I see that you’re fine, so I’m going to sit down over here,” gesturing to where the rest of the staff were supposed to be anyways. I love her. She believed me when I said I was okay, and then when I was in the chair and wheeled off to wash my hands, she brought me a band aid. She’s the best.

Later that day, one of the seniors was chatting with me during his study hall and asked me for future reference how to respond if something like that happened again.

“Believe me,” I told him, “I’ll make clear what my needs are, and I need people to believe me.”

Friday, Hunter happened by my classroom during my prep period, and we had a similar chat about my hopes for if that happened again. We’ve agreed on a plan of action that he’ll send someone else for the chair and shoo away people who don’t believe me that I know my own needs. I have good friends.

To be clear, I am so grateful for the concern of my coworkers who wanted to be sure that I was okay. I just want to stress for future reference, that I’m actually quite hardy, and I have fallen before. This was nothing to me – the last fall was backwards out of the wheelchair (remember that post?). Also, one time I fell and broke my back. That was significantly worse.

Shout out to Anna here, my nurse in the REHAB hospital, who promised me that I would fall down. “But what if I don’t, Anna?” I’d asked her. “Oh, you will,” she’d confidently replied, “That’s why you need to learn how to get back up again.” I average about one fall a year. It’s not terrible, and I get back up every single time.

While I was on the ground this time waiting for Hunter and trying to drown out the swarm of people ignoring my repeated assurances that I was fine, I smiled big when I thought of how proud Mike would be of me. I was keeping up with the rest of the staff, and I didn’t let leg spasms stop me from participating fully in the procession, and I honestly wasn’t going to think twice about letting this fall slow down any of my progress. In fact, it’s a moment of celebration that I kept up with the staff WHILE HAVING LEG SPASMS. So, moral of the story, I’m a champion.

Seriously, though, take a moment to congratulate me on the fact that I was told I’d never walk again, and I walked with my peers while my legs were sending confused messages through my body. I absolutely love my job, and as multiple friends commented when I gave a one sentence version of this story on Facebook, I got back up again, and the students saw that too. When I showed up in the yearbook room during lunch that day, a group of seniors cheered for me, excited that I came back to BFA even though it is sometimes hard to live here.

On Wednesday, I’d posted the line about me face planting in front of seniors with a reference to the Richard Rohr line about how he prays for a small humiliation each day to keep him humble. Today’s sermon was on James 4, and we were given space to reflect on the value God gives to humility. I’ve been in an ongoing weekly theological conversation with an alumni developing my understanding of humility, and this was a nice cherry on top to the lesson. The youth pastor Florian shared that God values humility because God is humble: if we have seen Jesus, we have seen the Father, and Jesus is the most humble person as we read in many beautiful passages of Scripture.

I’m not embarrassed by my fall. Far from it – I boast in my weaknesses because Jesus uses them for his glory. Celebrate with me that aside from that nail that probably needed a trim anyways, nothing was broken. I’ve got a tiny bruise to show off my victory; what a shame that it’ll fade by the end of the week. You see, this wasn’t a defeat. I fell down, but remember, I got back up.

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