Friday, May 10, 2013

Mama, Me, & Stretching

...I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

~ 2 Corinthians 12.7-10, The Message

“Oh, Andrea, I can’t; I can’t; it hurts.….”  My mama’s call not only struck chords in my ears, but also bore holes in my heart.”  She was in severe pain, suffering the agony of a broken hip.  I squeezed her hand and told her she could. That she had to.  She had to do as the physical therapists told her or she would not get well.  

Later that day, I spent moments in reflection.  I thought of how my fingers had brushed through Mama's white hair, my lips bent to her ears, and my hand grasped hers so tightly and Mama’s grasped back.  

Progressively, my thoughts journeyed to the season of her fair hands brushing my hair for church and school.  How they touched my forehead with tenderness when my body was fevered.  How she took me to the doctor.  How she made biscuits every morning and took me to piano lessons.  I thought of how she told me I could….

In the stretching days of my youth, Mama was there to hold me. 

In the stretching days of her senior season, I was there to hold her.

The power of holding and helping my own mother created an immense well within me.  Tears easily find their way past that well and into my eyes and down my cheeks. 

As I now sit, touching the computer keys, she is in rehabilitation at a nursing facility.

I am in her house with my husband.  We are in her home.  Alone.  Without Mama.

She has many stretching days ahead of her before she returns to this sweet, small rancher that is surrounded by nature and quiet.  When Mama returns, she will not be the same.  Her separation and stretching will mold her anew, as she adjusts to living alone again.

I am like my mother.  I cry when I’m in pain.  I ache when I am stretched.  I scream when I think it’s just too much for me to handle, when I think, “I can’t.” 

I suppose we are all a bit the same.  In the frailty of our flesh, we cry and resist, whether we are being stretched in the physical or being stretched in the spiritual. 

Physical stretching is felt in the body.  Spiritual stretching is known in the soul and felt in the natural.

I truly do not know a time in my life when I was not being stretched by my Father.  And, so many seasons of stretching have included cries of doubt.  “I can’t, Lord God.”  “It’s just too much.”  “Please stop the suffering.  Stifle the pain.  Cease the Season.” 

And, into the depths of my comfort zone, He then breathes into my ear and soul, “You can “and reminds me of the Spirit-inspired words of the Apostle Paul, that God's strength is perfected in our weakness.

In one of the loveliest pieces of scripture given to us by God, Paul tells the truth about stretching and the key to surviving its agony.  Paul shared deep, godly truth that is hard to hear.  His response to his own stretching, “thorn in the flesh,” was one that challenges me today.  “I will most gladly rejoice in my infirmities….