A Healing Message

It’s been said that things happen in threes. After my April 14th surgery, I have to agree. It was supposed to be a simple procedure to repair a torn ligament in my left wrist but the damage proved to be more extensive than the MRI originally showed and the doctor wound up fixing, not one, but three tears.

“One of the ligaments had ripped completely away from the bone,” the surgeon told Bill after my three-hour operation was over. “I had to put two pins in your wife’s wrist to hold the bones together until it heals.”

That was almost six weeks ago and, although typing with one hand has been a challenge, my only regret is that I didn’t do something sooner. Instead I spent the past five years nursing an aching wrist that could have been fixed in one day.

The only thing worse than putting off the inevitable is listening to someone go on and on about an issue that he or she has no intention of addressing. I never want to be that person. While it is noble not to saddle anyone else with our problems, sometimes I think we spend so much time avoiding the pain of doing that we forget about the joy of living with the fruits of our labors.

Why do we do it?

Why are we so determined to play the victim instead of the victor?

If I had to self-analyze my penchant for procrastination, I’d guess that it was because I don’t want to be a burden to my family. Bill may joke about what I spend on purses and shoes but it’s nothing compared to the cost of repairing a ligament; and I’d rather wait until our insurance deductible has been met for other reasons than be the cause for that type of out-of-pocket expense. I also don’t like the idea of having to ask for help with basic tasks like tying my shoes and taking out the trash.

I often say that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Self-sufficiency is no exception, and so I set aside mine to have the surgery. When it was over, I was touched by how much everyone pitched in to help. Not once did Bill complain about the cost. Instead we all had a good laugh over how ridiculous I looked with my arm bent at a ninety-degree angle and pointed at the ceiling to keep the swelling down.

One Sunday morning, for example, when I walked past Hollie with my arm in the air she joked: “I hope you have a ticket.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“To the gun show!” She shouted while flexing her biceps.

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Bill gave me a hug after we got home from church and said: “You’re so nice.”

Once again I looked confused until he held his arm up like mine and pretended to wave at passersby.

All jokes aside, this time of recovery has been a good one because it taught me that relying on others is not a weakness if it brings out another person’s strengths; and when we take care of ourselves it sends the healing message that I am worth it … and so are you.

Paired Up For A Reason

During the episode of Modern Family that aired on May 11th of this year, Claire Dunphy became so tired of being the disciplinarian in the family that she decided to switch roles with her husband, Phil. It didn’t take long for her to learn that being the fun parent wasn’t as easy as it looked. Phil was also in for a rude awakening when he took the role of bad cop to the extreme after his daughters tried to trick him into thinking that they had cleaned their bathroom. In the end, both parents realized that they were paired up for a reason, and by trying to squeeze into the other parent’s shoes, everyone felt their pain.

Bill is the good cop in our family. It’s not that I never let our girls off easy. It’s just that extending grace comes more naturally to him. So does having fun. While I am known for organizing outings where Katie and Hollie get to play with other kids, Bill takes them to the local go-kart track and other places where they can have fun together.

Sometimes I envy his role and how easy it is for him to fill it, especially when my good intentions go unnoticed. Like the time I arranged to have several families from our neighborhood meet the girls and I at a play center filled with wall-to-wall inflatable slides, jumps, and obstacle courses. When it was time to leave, I realized that Hollie had no idea I planned the get-together when she commented on what a coincidence it was that people she knew kept “showing up.”

Knowing what it’s like to be unappreciated and overlooked makes me wonder if this is how God must feel whenever we curse Him for consequences brought on ourselves or take credit for blessings that He has bestowed. It also makes me empathize with the Modern Family mom who wanted to be known, if only for a while, as the fun parent. Like Claire, I will never be as good in the role as my spouse. That’s okay because God created me to excel in other ones.

Actress Sofia Vergara said it best when she ended the episode with the following words of wisdom: “Maybe we are the way we are because of the people we are with. Or maybe we just pick the people we need. However it works, when you find each other, you should never let go.”

Modern Family May 11th, 2011 Episode

Cutting Our Losses

I believe in finishing well. And that no matter how much we mess up a conversation or situation, it’s never too late to end on a more positive note.

While this philosophy works well to calm the waters of regret before they wash away our peace, it often requires an investment of even more resources at a time when many of us would be tempted to cut our losses. Resources like the time it takes to send an e-mail or a hand-written note to someone we may have unintentionally offended. Or the effort required to plan a night out and bridge a gap of silence that has been growing between friends.

I was attempting to accomplish the latter when I drove my daughters to Nebraska during their last spring break. For several weeks before the trip, I thought about calling a few classmates to see if they were available to meet me at an alumni event that was scheduled for the same weekend I was back. Because so much time had passed since our last get-together, I was hesitant to dial their numbers. I was also concerned about logistics. The event was 45 minutes away from where my daughters and I were staying; and after driving for ten hours, the last thing I wanted to do was spend more time behind the wheel. 

It’s been said that people will do what’s important to them at their own inconvenience. Because keeping in touch with friends is important to me, it felt wrong not to at least try to reconnect with a few of mine from high school. And so half-way through Iowa, I started making calls. To my surprise, every person answered the phone (even the one who normally would not have been home).

“I can’t believe you called on the one day that I happen to be home sick,” she said.

My classmate was amazed by the coincidence, but I wasn’t. That’s how God works. With gentle nudges and nagging feelings that escalate until the exact moment when obedience meets providence and a divine connection is made. It is in this moment that faith is strengthened and relationships are restored.

I saw this firsthand at the alumni event as my classmates and I reminisced about the crazy things we did to add excitement to our quiet, small-town lives. Our meeting also gave me a chance to apologize for the way I treated one childhood friend during a football game our senior year. The offense was small in the grand scheme of our friendship but, because it was one of the last times we spoke, the thought of seeing her again always made me uncomfortable … until now.

Now, it was like we had never been apart as I realized: The best way to cut our losses is not to avoid people, but to invest even more in them. And when we do, the only thing that will be finished is the distance that separates close friends.

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” – Proverbs 14:23a