Back On My Own Two Feet

I found myself lying face down on the ground thrashing from side to side in an attempt to escape the pain. As seconds slid by, the fire in my knee grew hotter. I felt a guy jump on my back and yell into my left ear,

“Don’t move! You have probably hurt your ACL. If you move, you will injure it more.”

I screamed into the sand and didn’t care that my whole mouth and face was encased in it. He pinned me down in an attempt to save me from further damage. I tried to fight him off but I couldn’t.

“Don’t move!” he shouted.

At that moment, I wanted to leave my body. In my mind I pictured a cartoon character running so fast that he left his body to escape whatever was chasing him. That is what I wanted. I longed to separate myself from the agony.

“Someone call an ambulance,” he shouted as he continued to hold me in place. “It will be okay. Just don’t move. I did the same thing to myself once, and I caused myself more injury by not being still.”

I listened to what he had to say, but I continued to wail so loudly that the neighboring town probably could hear me. I closed my eyes as I felt many hands cover my back.

As luck would have it, I was at a church picnic where those in attendance believed in prayer. I heard murmurings of my name as those who surrounded me were asking God for help.  In the middle of a volleyball sandpit, God showed up.

I cannot fully put into words what I experienced next, but I found myself floating above the scene. I saw the people around me, and I felt peaceful. I saw a man who looked very much like I imagined Jesus to resemble walk through the crowd and put his hand on my forehead. I heard this,

“If you just keep looking at me, you won’t feel any pain. If you forgive the person who did this to you, you will be healed quickly.”

When I opened my eyes, I felt the misery return so I kept shutting them and watching from another place. I began to whisper,

“I forgive. I forgive. I forgive.” No one heard me, but I wanted to follow the instructions that I was being given. I was suddenly realizing that I had two small girls to take care of, and I didn’t have time for being injured. One of the two was to start second grade at home in less than a month.

By the time the medical personnel arrived, I was much calmer but still had pain. They loaded me up and injected a large dose of morphine into my system. My knee was swollen to twice its size, and I did not dare to move it one inch due to an onslaught of torture that would follow. I just kept repeating,

“I forgive, God. I forgive.”

The x-rays at the hospital revealed no fractures so I was sent home with orders to see an orthopedic surgeon the next day.

The following morning, after throwing up most of the night from the medication I was supposed to take, I woke up in the same clothes from the day before with mounds of sand in my bed. As my two little girls sat near me, I kept repeating in my mind,

“I forgive. I am doing what you said. I forgive. I want to be healed fast.”

Once in the doctor’s office that day, he twisted and turned my leg to the point of me wanting to pass out.

“Well, from this initial exam, I think you have either torn, ripped or strained your ACL.” He went on to explain that this was something only an MRI could completely determine.

“Even if you have the slightest tear, we will have to do surgery. If we leave it like it is, you will never run normal again. You will always have the possibility of falling or your leg catching mid-stride. It feels like you have at least torn it. So, prepare yourself mentally for surgery and at least a six week recovery.”

I felt tears well up in my eyes. I could not be laid up for that long. I had two kids counting on me.

“Let’s get you scheduled for that MRI.”

A few days later I went back for the procedure. I was not able to see the physician for a follow up for another two weeks as his schedule was booked and he was on vacation.

In the meantime, a friend of mine gave me a magnet infused pad to wrap around my knee.  It was supposed to help bring blood flow to areas that were swollen.

Every morning I woke up with my injured leg shaking and quivering beyond my ability to control it. There was no pain associated with that, but it felt like it was being strengthened from the inside out. And, I kept saying,

“I forgive. I forgive.”

It got to the point where I didn’t have to say it anymore. I just focused all of my attention on getting better. I didn’t have time to hold a grudge or be angry at the person who had caused this. My thoughts were on my well being and not dwelling on the past. I was looking forward to a future where I had two functioning legs.

By the time I saw the doctor again I was slightly limping with little to no pain.

When he walked into the room, he said,

“Could you get up, please, and show me how you are walking like that?”

“Sure,” I said. “It has gotten much better since we last saw each other. I don’t even need my crutches anymore.”

I walked briskly around the room with just a small hitch.

“Does that hurt?”

“Not really.”

“Come on back and sit down. Let’s look at your MRI results.”

“I must have only strained my ACL instead of tearing it or ripping it in half like you said. I feel almost back to normal.”

“You ripped your ligament in half. Medically speaking, you don’t have one.  You shouldn’t be walking like that.”

“What?”

“I have never seen anything like this. Most patients with an MRI that looks like this get scheduled for surgery and are in a lot of pain and not walking around like that.”

I smiled and said,

“I know a good friend in a high place.”

“I guess you do because this is not usual.  I am going to order six weeks of physical therapy to strengthen that leg.  We will see how you progress because like I said before, you don’t want to spend your life not being able to use that leg fully, especially if you want to be active and run with your kids.”

He had me walk around the room one more time before I left, and he smiled and shook his head in disbelief.

I spent the next three weeks faithfully attending physical therapy at a hospital near my house.  The therapist was astonished when she looked at my MRI and then saw what I was able to do.

“I know the doctor ordered six weeks of this, but you are at your maximum right now.  I don’t have any further exercises to give you to strengthen that leg.  In fact, you are lifting a heavier weight with that leg than your good one.”  She called over her fellow therapists to show them my great strength and then showed them the MRI result.

“That’s not hers!” one of them said.

“Yes it is.”

“How is that possible?”

I knew how it was possible.  And, it became more of a reality the first time I sprinted across the room with one of my daughters without any side effects.

Recently, I had a person tell me that you don’t have to forgive someone if they don’t say they are sorry or ask for forgiveness.  He quoted a scripture that said that if the person repents, then you forgive them.  Otherwise, you do not have to forgive.

I would have bought his explanation had I not gone through the experience I did.  You see, the letting go of the cause of the incident made way in my heart for God to come in like a flood and heal me.  I got on the same page as heaven and allowed nothing to block the supernatural from assisting me.  Had I hung on to bitterness or anger, I may have hindered my quick progress with my negative emotions.

The other day while I was running three miles on my treadmill, my mind was taken back to this miraculous event.  To this very day, I am grateful that I listened to that still small voice tell me to forgive so that I could get back on my own two feet.

treadmill

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Problem Solved

Please don’t call on me. Please don’t call on me.  This was my daily mental mantra during his math class in sixth grade. I had a history with this man and had hoped to never be his student again.

Previously I was in one of his classes in second grade, and I had gone from being an avid reader with great pronunciation skills to not being able to comprehend sentences.  I began to bring home extra work to do with my mom to improve my understanding.  She noticed that I was not struggling as she and I worked together.  After a couple of these sessions, she said to me,

“I don’t think you like your teacher.”

“No. I don’t.”

“Why?”

My seven year old mind could not articulate clearly why I did not like him.  I just knew I didn’t.  In hindsight, it was my first experience with being intimidated, but I didn’t understand it.  It wasn’t that he was a male teacher as much as his attitude about being of that gender.  I recall seeing him flirt with the young female teacher across the hall, and in an instant his demeanor would become harsh with the children in his room.  He was unpredictable, and I never knew when I would meet his approval or not.  He put me on edge, and I always felt his anger simmering below the surface. To add to my fear, he towered over me. One of my brothers was just as tall, but it was the way this man glared at me from above that made me cower.

During our one on one reading sessions he would often laugh and ridicule those who were not pronouncing words correctly.   He would use another student to ‘correct’ the one who was making a fool of himself.  It was a form of public humiliation amongst the peers.  Not being able to take the pressure, I shut myself down and with that my favorite subject became my most difficult.  My voice, that once was strong, became small and weak with the idea that he was going to lash out and make me feel horrible about myself.  The best part of my day was when our hour of reading with him was over, and I returned to my home room next door.

When second grade ended, I wasn’t only glad to welcome in the freedom of summer but to be away from him forever.  Forever lasted until the sixth grade. He picked up right where we had left off. This time, he was my math instructor which wasn’t my best subject.   His eyes would scan the room looking for his prey to call up to the board. Hands across the room would fly up, but I always put my hands under my desk to be sure there was no mistaking my desire to stay seated.   Regardless, he would pick me.  I never got used to being in front of the entire class sweating over the board trying to appease him only to be interrupted.  I would just begin to write and he would snap.

“No! That’s already wrong. Go sit down.”  I would quietly put the chalk back in its place while he would then call upon his star math student who would go up and show us all how it was to be done.

“Now, that is perfect,” he would say shooting me a satisfied sadistic smile.

The worst part was the homework.  He would hand out our assignment and expect it back by the end of the day.  For a person who caught on to numbers quickly this would have been easy.  But, I had such a mental block, partially due to him making me feel stupid, I needed the extra time in the evenings to complete the work.  If a student didn’t turn in the homework of the day, then she was expected to ask him permission to take it home and turn it in the next morning.  Every day I made the short but long walk to his door to ask if I could have an extension. It was a ritual short of bowing and kissing a ring on his hand. Some afternoons when he was preoccupied with impressing some of his young female students, I would get a head nod followed by a grunt. Other times, he would torture me with tormenting questions.

“Can I take my math work home tonight?” I would squeak.

“Again? Why can’t you get it done during the day like everyone else?”  He knew full well I needed the extra time.  After making me feel like an absolute idiot, I would finally get the approval to take my work home.

One day, as I walked slowly down the hall, I noticed him standing in his classroom doorway facing his students.  He was quiet and so was the entire class.  Looking back now, I should have known to just turn around and forget it, but I didn’t realize what I was walking into.  As I neared him, he began to yell at the top of his lungs.

“I told you all to shut up, and I mean it!  I don’t want to hear another word until the bell rings!”  His voice echoed off the walls around me.  Sensing I was behind him, he whirled around.  Screaming in my face he said,
“WHAT DO YOU WANT?” Spit flew from his mouth and his eyes were crazy looking.

“I need to take my math home….” I think I actually whispered my request.

“I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU DO!”

He spun on his heel and slammed the door so hard that the floor beneath my feet shook.  I ran back to my class. When I came in the door, my teacher asked,

“Are you okay, Christine?”

I kept my head down and nodded.  He looked at me for awhile like he wasn’t so convinced.  I don’t know how he hadn’t heard the commotion out in the hallway, but I was so paralyzed with fear I could not speak.

I left elementary school and went on to middle school, high school and college bearing the unseen scars that he inflicted.  I was amazed by the other kids who could whip out math answers while I struggled over each and every problem. I had a teacher tell my mom at a conference that he felt sorry for me because he could see that I really wanted to comprehend the material but it just didn’t stick.  Something was blocking my ability to get to the right answer.  When she told me this I must have been touched by it because on the next test I whizzed through it.  By the end of that year I had gotten a low B in his class.

The damage wasn’t just confined to school.  If I was with a group of people playing a game where a score needed to be tallied, and I was questioned on my accuracy, I would immediately say,

“I am bad at math.” I was merely verbalizing the thought I was having twenty-four seven.

Usually I hadn’t made an error, but due to early childhood programming by a bully math teacher, I constantly defaulted to what I thought was true.  If the person in my social circle was somewhat aggressive, I found myself thinking for certain I was at fault and he or she was right. I was continuing to exist as a sixth grade math student.

The pattern of living this way began to dissolve when I decided to home school my daughter.  I knew that I was going to excel with instructing her on reading, writing, spelling and basic math, but there was the nagging question if I had what it took to effectively teach math at the sixth grade level or higher.  The summer before she was to begin that grade, a packet came in the mail that included a math placement test.  Before I gave the exam to her, I took it.  I was shocked to see that I scored rather high.  Calculations that would have been confusing made absolute sense.  How had I become one of those kids that I had envied so much?

That is when I realized how my thinking was not correct on this matter.  There were other hints along the way, but I had brushed them off quickly because after all, “I was bad at math.”

When I began to home school, I purposefully bought a math curriculum that used a hands on approach to teaching not only basics but also some geometric and algebraic principles.  As I showed her the logic to solving equations, I began to understand that I had not been taught properly.  I was slowly beginning to see that I was not the stupid idiot I thought I was.  I actually had not been given good instructions nor was I treated like I should have been.

This made me begin to question what other lies I was believing about myself that were not true, and I made a determination to begin an ‘uncovering’ process to free myself from deceptive thinking.  This meant asking God to reveal whatever wasn’t right so I could correct it.   After all, it is promised that ‘all crooked paths will be made straight.’  I am realizing that this is an ongoing process.

This man was in my life more than 36 years ago.  And all these years later I can conjure up his face, his words and his demeanor.  The difference, however, is that I no longer believe him.  I have put a loving arm around my sixth grade self, and I have told her,

“You are good at math.  Problem solved.”

math