God is good all the time even when we don’t understand His mysterious ways. And I fully admit I don’t understand, but I trust God. In the world of faith we don’t always understand what is good or bad, often what we perceive as bad turns out to be good, or even great, for us in the long term.
I am in the process of learning this lesson again. A couple weeks ago our very large dog (80+ lbs) hit me from behind, running full speed, and at my age and size it could have easily killed me, or at least seriously injured me. Thank God I only suffered a severe ankle sprain, a bit of whiplash, and bruising. At first I thought it was really bad, but I am finding that it is good.
I have been asked NOT to write about my childhood experiences to spare feelings. I have been asked to wait for the death of the perpetrator before I speak of the abuse and neglect I suffered as a child, and honestly that had been my plan as well, but sometimes God’s timetable is different than our own.
As I have struggled to learn to maneuver on my first pair of crutches, battling a nerve damaged and atrophied uninjured foot and leg, I have been thrown back to a time in childhood where I felt more than helpless, ignored, and unloved. The truth of that time is ugly, it almost defies belief, and it is hard to write or even think about, but God has decided it is time for me to heal the emotional, mental, and physical wound.
I have experienced about every emotion there is in the last couple weeks as I’ve been stuck on the couch unable to do for myself. Beside the feelings of helplessness, sadness, and fear, there’s also been abandonment, rejection, and heartbreak, all the emotions I felt at twelve years old when medical care was withheld from me for months. I do not understand why an adult would choose to withhold medical care from a child, or maybe I do, and what I see is so dark that I cringe even thinking about it.
Looking back on that time through the eyes of an adult, and a mother, it is worse than I’ve let myself remember, the cruelty and lack of empathy toward me hurts both my heart and my soul. The short version (because the full version is still very difficult for me to face) is that I slipped, barefooted, on the deck, unearthing a very large splinter that essentially shot into the soft spot under my toes and disappeared inside. At first I don’t think anyone believed me, even though I was crying, limping, and in awful pain. This happened in the last days of sixth grade, to my club foot (a birth defect), and I was made to walk to school anyway, as everyone has had a splinter before and didn’t act like a whining baby.
Within a week a knot began forming on the bottom of my foot, between the ball and heel, in the arch, and it was quite painful. I was limping, and I’m sure complaining, and the knot was obvious, but it was ignored. Day after day, week after week, the knot grew painfully, and I soon learned to not talk about it, and not to be showing everyone my “boo boo”.
As I understand it scar tissue had begun to encase the 3 inch splinter to prevent it from moving deeper into my system, and for the entire summer, from the end of May to the end of August I limped, the knot growing larger, my foot swelling, and it was ignored. Finally, the week before school started again I had surgery to remove the splinter, and the huge knot of infected tissue. The neglected injury was bad, and the surgeon had to scrape down to the bone to remove the mass, and I was sent home with strict instructions not to put any weight on my foot, as there was an empty, fleshless, hole under the stitches that needed time to fill back in.
It was decided that instead of crutches I would use an ancient office chair with small metal wheels to move around over the deep shag carpet, and as that didn’t work, I ended up hopping or scooting around on my butt. I have no idea why I wasn’t given a pair of crutches, but I wasn’t, and I was not to complain.
Given almost no recovery time I started seventh grade in the three-story building where the stairs were an absolute nightmare. I never received any physical therapy, and although I had gone to doctors for my birth defect previous to this, I never went to another “foot doctor” until I was an adult and could pay for it myself. Before the injury I could balance on either foot with my opposite leg in the air, afterwards I became the brunt of the clumsy and klutzy jokes, and I have fallen down more stairs than I care to remember, as my foot was no longer trustworthy or dependable. Only my big toe could move freely, and the rest of my toes only moved as a unit, up and down just a bit, and I lost a lot of mobility in the whole foot.
I have been aware of the physical loss for years, my inability to balance on that foot and leg, but my right leg, my tree trunk, took up the slack until a dog, happily running full speed, knocked me ass over teakettle. I have thought many times over the years that I need to work on the balance issues and lack of mobility, but never took the time to focus on it. Now, it seems, God has put me into the position to heal my left foot, and the accompanying soul wound that comes when a child’s pain, needs, and health are ignored for months by those who are supposed to love them.
At the beginning it’s a miracle I didn’t fall again trying to use crutches, and keep the weight off my right side, but I am slowly gaining some balance, and I’m feeling muscles in my left calf, ankle, and foot that I haven’t felt in decades. As I am beginning to heal the old injury, and the injury to my heart, mind, and soul, I am grateful that God has given me the opportunity to address them all. Healing can be messy, acknowledging the buried emotions from being neglected left me in tears for days, but things are looking up, thank God, and although I don’t understand his mysterious ways I trust Him implicitly.