I Ain’t Got a Leg to Stand on…
If you have followed my blog for any amount of time you know the struggle with my leg. Not my real one, my fake one. I truly do not even understand how something that isn’t even real can constantly send you such unhealthy vibes. First I have a leg, and then I don’t. Insurance pays for all of my leg, and then they rescind that idea and will pay for none. I find a doctor and then find out it was a scam. In one article I am praising God for giving me a leg and then being squashed and discouraged the next when insurance informs me that they won’t pay for it going forward. Yikes! I’m tired of talking about it and I know you all must be ready to scream, “MOVE ON!” It is absolute emotional/physical torture re-adjusting my lifestyle based on whether or not I have a fake leg financially paid for.
Just to be clear on where we are in the slump; Right now, as of today, as of this hour, I have a leg that is too big for me since I’ve lost weight using it and it needs repairs that insurance will not pay to have completed. I do wear my leg once in awhile for things that are impertinent to have two legs for (as if it ever were not a priority!) such as vacuuming, grocery shopping, etc. When this leg breaks, as of right now that is it, no more fake leg until I can muster up another way to get it paid for.**
But a few months ago when I was so angry about the latest slump that came along I prayed about it and decided that it was not going to define me. Usually I judge myself and I hear others say things that reflect the idea that my faith and spirituality are linked to God providing a fake leg. It’s as if having a fake leg is a way to measure God’s happiness with me and my performance. If I am doing well then God gives me a leg. I must be doing all the right “spiritual” things and praying right if I have a leg. I’ve been rewarded a little treat, a fake leg, for being a good girl. But it just hit me the other month that this simply isn’t true. God gives everyone else two legs without them ever lifting a finger (or a bible study or a prayer meet, just sayin’!) in the womb! So why would my receiving a fake leg be some sort of indicator as to my spiritual health? My fake leg is not a stamp of God’s approval of my behavior. God promises to provide for our needs, who says this is an absolute need every step of the way? (Pun intended)
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)
In our weaknesses He is made strong. God sees the “holes” that we need filled and He alone will fill them. Our weaknesses are sometimes allowed to be there so that He simply can be that for us. As parents we sometimes allow our children to struggle to open a jar of jelly, even if we know they can’t do it alone. Why do we do this? We let them build their strength, we let them learn to persevere and work for what they want; we let them learn how to ask for help. We also need God’s help in certain areas of our lives and it is OK to rely on Him. It is OK if he doesn’t give us super strength to open every jar of jelly that we want to open on the first try. It doesn’t mean we are lacking in faith any more than it is the child’s fault for not being strong enough to open the new jar of jelly! Would you yell at the child trying to open the jar “Have faith! Try harder! You aren’t praying enough!”? It is not the child’s fault, the child simply is afflicted with condition called “being a child”. Then parents step in according to their measure of strength (a condition called “adulting”) and open the jar if the child needs it open. It is OK to be God’s kid and to not have every single external area of our life under control. That’s how God gets to be God. It is how he gets to show us that He has us in the palm of His hand. I’m saying that sometimes we think we need the jelly jar opened and we really don’t!
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? ….No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Romans 8:35,37(NLT)
When I have a fake leg that is working well for me and paid for; that’s great. When I don’t I feel strongly that I should research and do my part, then leave it in God’s hands. He isn’t angry at me or unhappy with me on one leg verses two. It isn’t that God doesn’t understand my struggle without a leg. He simply sometimes “allows in His wisdom what He could easily prevent with His power” (Graham Cooke). Parents, in their wisdom, sometimes allow kids struggle without success opening the jelly jar before supper even though they could easily prevent that suffering with the power in their hands and arms. Not every jelly jar should be opened when we want it opened.
I was pretty surprised a few months ago when I was praying about this and praying about where to turn next to look for insurance coverage for my leg. I was so blessed God dismissed the debt owed on my current leg (insurance miraculously paid the balance) but was so adamant that because He removed that debt I would find coverage for the repairs I knew I was about to need. I was praying hard and searching everywhere. One morning I felt the Lord speak to me so clearly. He reminded me of the words in my testimony, “THIS BATTLE IS NOT YOURS, QUIT FIGHTING.” “What?! It isn’t mine? Am I to lay down and take this?!” I thought. “If you aren’t providing this then I clearly need to do more and make sure it is provided for me!” But that was it. God was silent. He had spoken His piece and left me to align the rest of my being with that peace.
Of course, as I wrestled with what He had spoken to me I realized that perhaps, just maybe, God did know something that I didn’t. Maybe He knows the Hip Disartic socket would not be good for my body long term. Perhaps He has something lined up in the future that requires for me to walk this trail for now. What if He knows that my body, being under extreme stress whenever in the leg, will break down because of that stress? Maybe I will not be able to reach people or spark healing in hearts on two legs like I can on one? Perhaps my reliance on Him and inability to be super-active on two legs keeps me focused on writing and the life of stillness I so firmly believe in. Who knows? I sure don’t. But God does. I felt that I was to let this battle rest for a bit and realign my self-worth with being God’s child.
“ Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite happy about ‘the thorn,’ and about insults and hardships, persecutions and difficulties; for when I am weak, then I am strong—the less I have, the more I depend on him.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 (MSG)
Yet I hear well-meaning friends and strangers tell me over and over “well if your faith is in the right place God will provide you a leg.” What a bunch of baloney! God doesn’t have to
make me look normal to prove that He loves me and is a good provider. He doesn’t have to open the jelly jar for me every time I want Him to. He is God and I trust Him to guide me where there are “thorns” and “holes” in my physique and daily lifestyle to be what I need.
Sometimes we so easily look at the things we are going through and the things that other people are going through and we are quick to pass judgment. It is easy to see someone that has an obvious “hole” in their life and assume that is their own weakness. It is easy to assume they aren’t doing enough to fix their life. It can be even easier to give them directives in what we think they should do, not considering what God may want for them. What if God keeps that hole there in their life? What if God is working and doing something there that is far greater than the very best they could do in full strength? Maybe their faith is extremely strong and resilient as they focus on treasure in heaven and the things God calls them to rather than filling in all the materialistic “holes” in their life.
I’m not advocating for laziness. I’m not advocating for being a victim. I am advocating for reality. Real Christians do not always get what they want. God does not always hand us the Jelly Jar already opened. He builds strength and character in us by allowing us to try opening it ourselves. It doesn’t mean we are societal weak or losers, it just means that He is honing our strength. That strength may not be physical, but I can promise you that the internal strength of resilience, self-discipline, and character building are much more valuable than having two legs to stand on. Regardless of where we are in our journey, God’s love is not dependent on our performance.
Since aligning myself with the reality that my relationship with God has nothing to do with whether or not I have a fake leg to stand on, I’ve noticed ways that I too have pushed wrong thinking on others in the same way it has been done to me. “Pray every day for God to heal you,” I have “encouraged” friends that are ailing. “Surely God will not allow for this to continue, read scripture and surround yourself with truth,” I’ve been found saying. “They really need to get X area of their life under a tighter rein if they call themselves Christian,” I’ve caught myself thinking. No, Ashly. Those words are not inspired by the Holy Spirit when the thinking behind them is aligned with performance-based love. They are instead subtle arrows of shame directed at the hearts of my loved ones whispering “you must do more, you must be more, God won’t love you unless you are better”.
Shame and condemnation are very bitter roots that take hold and affect our whole person. It is so freeing now to think about my leg without falling into shameful thinking and keeping scores of my shortcomings. Remembering that Christ died once for all sin (1 Peter 3:18) is an antidote to condemnation. Knowing that nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:35) is freedom from shame.
I may not have a leg to stand on…but I know the One who does!
- Do you tie your identity and acceptance from God with your behavior? In what ways?
- When you notice faults in others do you immediately criticize or “encourage” that person to do x,y,z?
- Do you believe that a person’s level of exterior success is a direct indicator of God being pleased with them?
- Are you always telling your friends what they “ought to do about X”, or do you spend your time loving and encouraging them in the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5)
- How can you allow your choices and emotions to line up and be “ok” with your weaknesses?
- Do you have any “Jelly Jars” you are trying to open without God’s help? Do you have “Jelly Jars” that you want open that maybe God isn’t ready to open?
*If you are an amputee and know the struggle of having your identity and self-worth tied up in prosthetic provision I would love to hear your story below! If you are a “regular person”, as I call all two-legged friends, but have found performance-based love an obstacle in your journey with God please let me know! I want to hear from everyone!
(**Please do not write to me about the million and one insurance and protesting options out there because – believe me – I have and continue researching, have done this for 27 years, and am well networked with people that know this game.)