Yesterday I found myself Celebrating Independence, although not exactly as expected on the Fourth of July.
It was only the third day in a month that I was able to sleep eight hours, so by the time got up, walked our two Danes and made breakfast, it was late morning. My husband and I listened to a few podcasts, sipped coffee and chatted about our day-off plans. By 11 am the nagging voice in my head (yea, that runner’s voice that says, “get off your lazy butt!”) won out. So I decided to do the 3.5 mile run I missed earlier…when it was closer to 75 than 95 degrees outside!
I laced up. Danny jumped on his bike, heading out a few minutes ahead of me.
That’s when the fear set in. The sun seared the lower half of my face beneath my visor as I stepped through the front door. I cringed, took a deep breath and rolled my head downward, left and then right.
“This might hurt,” I thought. The muscles in my neck were still tight, restricting full range of motion. The removal of my sheered-in-half disc and surgical fusion of my C4 and C5 vertebrae four months earlier still caused daily pain despite physical therapy; scarring of the cartilage in vertebral joints had to be cracked apart with each session to relieve pressure and increase movement. Therapy helped but some pain lingered.
“It’s been six months since the accident,” I said to myself, “I’m healing. I am ready. Yes, it’s hot-ok. I will live.” Two months of running, stretching, complying with every restriction and building every modified run in quarter-mile increments led me to the completion of my first three-miler the week before…But it was time to go further!
I chose a route I knew to be just short of the distance, so I back-tracked from the starting point to pick up my extra half mile. I prayed while I ran. I forgot about the heat. I forgot about the pain. I thought about–and thanked God for–how far I’d come since my neck was broken in six places, my shoulder was separated, my left earlobe was ripped away from my head and a massive hematoma erupted over my left temple, persisting for six weeks. Here I was running, albeit still “easy going!” The two, still-tender spots farther down my lower spine actually started to feel better the longer I ran. I forced myself into a few short walks, not because I was tired or in pain, but because it was a condition of my neurosurgeon’s permission to resume running–for a while anyway. I prayed thanks for my life being spared and for my family’s love and support through it all.
I looked up at one point as I slowed my trot to a walk and saw I was at the corner of Emerson Drive and Cheb Place. This was the place where blood spilled from my head onto the pavement after a car threw me from my bike. The place where the words, “Be still!” (that I’d been hearing since the previous summer) took on a life of their own, being repeated by the second, the minute, the hour…The place where my relationship with “stillness” became a necessity rather than merely a choice. The place where The Lord began a “new thing” in me, in my stillness! (Stay tuned–there’s more to come on this!!)
I stopped in the middle of the crosswalk where I had lain in that pool of my own blood six months and two days earlier. Where my husband at first feared he was witnessing my death. It was the same time of day, the same place, the same person. But I was different in so many ways. I no longer feared that place or what happened there. I no longer feared death. I no longer feared that my life would “never be the same.” (I pray it’s not!)
Instead I saw my INDEPENDENCE from the limitations of my circumstances and the hurdles of this world–those things that could prevent me from pursuing any size goal that glorifies God–large or small. I remembered when I couldn’t run three or four steps, much less miles. I felt free, inspired and grateful! Then God put this on my heart: Our true INDEPENDENCE comes from CHRIST’S blood, our faith in Him and His love for us! I ran the rest of the way home thinking about the enormity of that statement.
I hope sharing this experience opens up a line of thought about YOUR INDEPENDENCE too…What have you been freed from–become independent of–through your faith and beliefs?
(P.S. Even though I thought I might struggle to finish three and a half miles, I actually finished four, and felt great!)