March 6, 2008- a date perhaps inconsequential to most – one which I’ll remember the rest of my life. It was on that date that I suffered a total dislocation of my left shoulder; cracking a rib, fracturing my scapula and permanently bruising my sometimes self sufficient ego.
How did this multiple injury occur? I stepped off a street curb – hit a patch of black ice and was on the pavement without so much as a warning. Without a warning to myself that is. I had gone out to move the car, so that neither my Wife, or Mother would slip on their way. My concern for them, left a blind spot in regards to my own security. So, literally in this case, pride came before a fall – and went out the door following it!
It took two emergency room doctors four hours to pump me full of muscle relaxers and work the shoulder back into place. To their credit, the old yank and pop method wasn’t used and would have caused more damage. Sitting there for those hours, in that quiet room, sure gave me plenty of time to think and focus on prayer that all would turn out ok.
In the months following, I required physical therapy. In some ways, that was more painful – physically and mentally, than the injury itself. You see I have lifted weights for years and though I credit God with my physical health, I must admit to a certain amount of pride which occasionally pops up. The doctor and therapist both told me that had it not been for the muscle conditioning of weight lifting, the injury would have required surgery and the recovery probably less productive. Imagine my joy in hearing, after weeks of “rubberband” exercises, that I was ready to try weights! Imagine the blow to my ego, when John (my therapist – and an excellent one!) handed me a one pound dumbbell – and a pink one at that! As it turned out, that one pounder felt more like fifty. (Still, I could have done without the pink!)
Here it is a year later and I have been blessed with more strength, mobility and range of motion than doctors, therapists and in honesty – myself thought would ever be possible. I say blessed, because only God could have re-knit me back together. Hard work on my part? Sure. But, you can work hard and accomplish nothing, without the healing power of God’s grace and mercy. I still have, and may always have, some aches and pains to serve as reminders of what can happen in the blink of an eye. That’s not such a bad thing. The same can be said for the healthy respect which leads to awareness and caution – as long as you don’t let it immobilize you.
Well, all that background brings me to the other night, when we got six inches of snow during the day and the temperatures dropped into the teens. I didn’t arrive home until after dark and found three foot drifts in places while bare pavement showed in others. So, I changed clothes, went out and proceeded to snowblow the driveway. About five minutes into the job and I hit … a patch of black ice. I felt my feet going. But, this time I was holding fast to the snowblower and the fall became a “graceful”, uneventful slide from a standing position to being prostrated on my back. Sheepishly, I looked up to see my Dad standing in the doorway of their house laughing and I knew I was OK. This time the only damage was to my ego.
By now you are wondering, is this an excerpt from Jeff’s journal? Or is there a point? O yeah and about time I got to it.
From the age of five I walked in the security of faith based on God and good parents. Then, three days after my fourteenth birthday, my legs went out from under me, when my Dad died in a car accident. I never saw it coming – couldn’t have. For years, my loving Mom prayed for me, trying to coax me gently back into place in my relationships. Dislocated? You bet! I was dislocated from God, family, even myself. Pain was abundant and some of it continues to this day, along with the ache in my heart for the hurt I caused to those surrounding members who held tightly to me regardless.
Then God blessed me with Carol – my Wife of the past twenty five years (and LORD willing – many, many more). Carol saw possibilities in me that I couldn’t imagine ever achieving. Gently, slowly she worked at restoring my dislocated persona back into place. That resulted in my love – for her, our son Chad, family – both my own and the new family which Carol brought with her in our marriage (7 Brothers, Sisters and her Mom and Dad) and eventually others. I learned once again that my relationship with God was key – to our marriage and to my truly living life. I learned to love – even myself – the hardest struggle of all, because that’s where the hurt had cut the deepest. I despise the person I was and the things I did. But, by the grace of God, I am no longer that person – but a new creation in Christ!
The extent of this healing would have been possible had it not been for having been instilled with Godly morals and values at an early age. These are things that I fell back upon, with the knowledge that they are Truth. I guess I’m living proof of Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The prayers of my Mother and Sister (and perhaps unknown others) were quiet yet effective therapy. Those prayers and the love behind them carried more weight than any I’ve ever lifted and lifted weight from me which I no longer had to bear.
My spiritual restart paralleled my physical recovery in another way, as well. Just like that one pound dumbbell, I had to reacclimate my heart, mind and lifestyle before I could expect or accept spiritual maturity. After having been raised in the things for which I now had to strive, it was also reminiscent of the “pink”. At one time I had been a youth group leader. I had taught Sunday school. I had been raised as a member of the Body of Christ – His Church. Now, the awkwardness I felt in returning to that fellowship of believers, shamed me in knowing just how far away from God’s will I had moved. In the same way every slip or slide on ice serves as a reminder of my frailty, every slip or slide I encounter spiritually does the same. Thankfully, I keep a firm grip on my LORD’s hand. He may allow me to slip a bit. But, He cushions life’s pitfalls and helps me to remain far more vigilant in avoiding them.
Dislocation hurts, whether it be physical or spiritual. As long as we remain in this life, we are susceptible to encountering some of each. But, by maintaining proper conditioning; physically and spiritually, we will find the road to recovery easier, more fulfilling and complete. We will be fortified through the hopes and prayers of love and compassion. Most importantly, although we remain aware of the dangers which surround us, our focus will be on the saving grace of Jesus and His promise; “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3) That is the ultimate cure for this life’s dislocation!