I keep trying to walk with a straight leg but I don’t have that anymore.
I have a limp.
It’s more work to walk with a limp. It hurts. It slows me down.
But I can hear the voice of my Elder and friend in my head. In my very first training on teaching many years ago, he taught us: ‘Never trust a teacher who doesn’t walk with a limp.’
He unpacked Genesis 32 when Jacob wrestles all night in the dark with a man, and when the man saw the dawn coming he touched Jacob’s hip and his hip was pout out of joint. Spoiler alert: the man Jacob wrestled with as God. And God blessed Jacob. And Jacob went off limping.
The people who are touched by God have marks that show it. We have scars from pain and suffering that we haven’t ignored, but endured. And the healing in the Gospel is never plastic surgery. It never leaves you more put together than you were when you started. It leaves you with scars and marks on your body. The Gospel burns. It heals- for sure- but it burns and it leaves mark.
I feel like I’m trying to get a blank slate, a new life, a new leg. But I know the truth: this life, my past few years, my past few months, are not supposed to ever just be undone – no matter how deeply I want that. They are supposed to mark me, supposed to change me.
I hate my limp for a million reasons: pride, efficiency, but mostly comfort: I’m so desperately tired of pain. I hate it. I want away from it. I want away from unpleasant emotions. And sometimes, limps demand that at the end of every day you do physical therapy, rubbing the tense and tight muscles. You can’t ever ignore them. Can’t ever forget they are there. They remind you with their pain, nagging for attention.
And I guess that’s why God blesses His people with limps. Because it’s the blessing of needing the Gospel.
Weakness and neediness are the very things that mark me as blessed. I have wrestled with the living God. He has put my hip out of socket just like Jacob. And I too have been blessed because I have endured. I wake today and love Him. He has not destroyed me. He is walking with me. And may I praise God for the weakness in my hip that leads me to cling and need and depend.
Here’s the humiliating truth: I wanted to grow up to become a Princess.
I wanted to be Sleeping Beauty- with her glorious hair, never out of place; her beautiful gowns, flowing around her, just resting peacefully while the battle rages around her while she waits for her prince to come and set all things right.
But He is making me Mulan. Mulan, who never really fit, who was forced by suffering and circumstance to chop off her hair, and put on a soldier’s garb and leave behind the ones she loved and run headlong into the battle.
And that may sound funny to you. It may make you laugh, but it makes me cry.
Because my life is not the life I wanted. It is not romantic and shiny and safe like I dreamed. Still, it is strangely and sadly magnificent with all its bruises and bumps. It is a life that is making a warrior out of me. With every shove, with every cut, with every push, it is equipping me to be stronger, to fight harder, to go further, to be the me that I never wanted to be, but to be the me I was made to be.
Besides, who am I kidding? Mulan was always my favorite anyway.