No Plan B

I don’t post absolutely everything on the internet, but the euphemistic pain I was describing in last week’s post only got worse through this past week. I’m on the mend at this point, so don’t worry, Mom or Granny or anyone else.

Sunday last week was rough, and Monday was one of the worst pain days post hospital. I wore my turtle shell back brace to school for the second time ever in six years – then again the next day. Some of you may recall that I only actually cried about my accident one weekend two and a half years after the event – and I hadn’t cried since up until last Sunday night. It was a rough week.

Sunday night I was texting a student who I mentor who happened to be slammed with some serious, heavy responsibilities of student leadership that day. Eight hours of weighty meetings that day was just the start of consequences of stepping into situations I’d cautioned against. I sent what I meant to be an encouraging message after I’d sobbed for the first time in over three years, and the response from the student who notoriously seldom cries was, “I just cried for the first time in over a year.”

Part of my message to the kid was confessing that conventional wisdom of American Christianity had lied to me. I’d done everything I was supposed to as a “good Christian kid,” and I was living a pretty crappy physical existence, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I don’t ever want to promise my students the lie that if you follow the rules, everything will work out and you’ll live happily ever after. I had a really encouraging call with my friend yesterday where she confessed that she, just like me, did what she was supposed to and, hey, even got what was promised, but it doesn’t fulfil her as she was led to believe it would.

But neither of us resent or regret our life choices. We had good childhoods. I freaking love my parents – they are some of the best out there ever. And in spite of the lies of my culture, I found a faith that is stronger than flimsy promises of white picket fences. I’ve got this body that’s slowly, slowly, slowly recovering from what was supposed to be permanent damage. That’s a miracle on it’s own. And I’m not done yet.

I don’t want this post to be a downer, but I want to situate you in the tension that I live in every day. My body doesn’t do all that it’s supposed to, and in fact, nerve damage creates a lot of pain and suffering. Simultaneously, I get to have amazing friends who love and encourage me in the midst of my pain, and I can laugh with students and coworkers about the oddities of my situation.

At one point in the Gospels, Jesus asks his disciples if they want to turn away, and Peter has this famous line declaring, “Where else would we go?” There’s no “Plan B” for me in this life. The shallow promises of cheap behavior modification theology don’t have room for disability, so I’m going “further up and further in” as C. S. Lewis says. So far, I’ve discovered a rich theology that makes space for everyone with out doling out easy answers. I invited my readers to pray with me for 40 days leading up to my birthday, then I asked an individual to partner with me continuing on from that day for another 40 day commitment. I’ve realized it’s an ongoing request with new people joining me at different points, but like the persistent widow, I’m demanding more while celebrating the miracle that I have.

Praise the Lord, I didn’t need to go to the hospital last week (it was a very real possibility as I evaluated the symptoms honestly). Praise the Lord my body feels better today than it did four days ago. Praise the Lord I have kind, compassionate students who volunteer their parents to drive me to the hospital. Praise the Lord I have intelligent, eager learners who engage with my lessons. Praise the Lord I have students who call me up and ask me how to go on a date (okay not verbatim the question, but pretty much the jist of it). But also pray for me and ask God to bring more physical improvements because there are frustrating and painful limitations in my body that impact my holistic health and ministry. Pray for me because there is no “Plan B.”

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