“Yesterday from my office window I saw a crippled girl negotiating her way across the street, her shoulders squarely braced. At each jerky movement her hair flew back like an annunciatory angel, and I saw she was the only dancer on the street.” – Elizabeth Smart, The Assumption of the Rogues and Rascals
Ah, the power of perspective.
Imagine with me for a second. You get the chopping board and the knife ready and you’re ready to prepare dinner. The ingredients are in place, which you carefully bought from the grocery the day before, and your stomach’s grumbling. Carrots, onions, garlic, beans, paprika, chili and rice. Go ahead, cook like you always do. Except that you only have one arm available for now, and your left hand chopping skills are basically nil. I can’t even sink that knife onto the carrot. You think to yourself, well, then I’ll just drive to a nearby restaurant or go to the mall to eat. Wait, you also can’t drive with one arm. You decide to just wait for your sister to come home and buy dinner, and in the meantime, you take a hot shower. You want to lather that rich organic shampoo you had delivered to you the previous week, and it’s proving tricky with one arm. You get the towel from the rack and then you remember, wait, this was exactly what I did a couple of days ago when you got into an accident. Something so random yet something so debilitating. Everything must be done with one arm, and it truly, truly hits you: All these feel very crippling.
At least that’s how it was the first week. For fear that I might again dislocate my shoulder, I had to follow the doctor’s orders to immobilize it for the time being. I was physically crippled, partially unable to use my right arm/shoulder/hand, and also mentally crippled with fear that it might occur again. I gave up rock and wall climbing years back because of this. I remember how I loved being in Tanay for those rock climbing sessions, but when I had my first accident in 2012, I just knew it was something I couldn’t do anymore. These days, the constant ngawit, the numbness I often feel in my right shoulder, and the sleeping like a zombie are part of the deal. Stay still. Don’t move that arm. Don’t get the sling out. Be very careful.
It is very crippling to not be able to use your dominant arm and hand. Everything I do is with my right hand. I write with my right hand. I use the phone with my right hand. I cook mostly with my right hand. And yet, this right limb was also the main reason I’m unable to do anything for now. I played badminton with my right hand, and for a whole year, I was setting myself up for trouble. Unknowingly? Perhaps. Somehow I must have had amnesia to forget that I can’t play with my right arm. What were you thinking, Kayz? But regrets are useless now. There’s only moving forward and rebuilding at this point.
My shoulder support arrived today, 20 days after my accident. I’m able to move about now, and cook and clean like normal. I’m still unable to drive, and the thought of another incident like this when I’m driving scares me sometimes. For 20 days, I’ve had to depend a lot on people and things. I have to be fetched by friends. My sister has to drive me to places I need to be at. I had to resort to take away food often. I depend on the pillow to support my right side when I sleep. I depend on the arm sling to keep this side immobilized. I even depend on the loose ligaments on my shoulder to just hang in there while I heal! God, how intricate you made our body! The Psalmist did say we were fearfully and wonderfully made. Every part of our body is important. Not one part can function all on its own without the aid of another.
These days, God has been teaching me the value of dependence –not on yourself, because I often feel I’m able to do just about anything I set my mind on. These past three weeks, the lessons on dependence were drilled into me and it was a lesson that was very fundamental to one’s faith in Christ, yet one that often risks neglect. We take a lot of things for granted because we feel God is always on our side. When we’re not careful, our prayers erode to a trickle of empty words of habit or panic button prayers and then we just realize that we didn’t really pray at all. We think we depend on God (and so often we say we do), but we don’t really make a conscious effort to depend on him. It’s nice to be able to come to a screeching halt in your life and to begin to understand, again, what depending on God truly means.
“And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1:17