College-Sophomore year-Intramural soccer practice. Some had shin guards, some did not. It seemed like an ok arrangement at the time, but in retrospect, not so much. The lefty wearing shin guards, Eric, kicks the righty without; Summer is down. The pain, albeit great, did not seem enough to warrant the hospital. After all, my leg looked fine. So, I was carried off and away to my dorm, with my leg tingling, throbbing, and shaking along the way.
Skip to the next morning. At this point, my leg really hurts. I know I need a professional assessment. However, I really wanted to brush my teeth. Why the teeth were such a priority at that point, I couldn’t tell you. I just know I was determined to clean them. Seeing that simply getting to the bathroom was going to be a problem, my roommate, Sarah, came to the rescue, knocking on doors to find a rolling desk chair so that I could be rolled to the bathroom. After that, with no elevator, the dorm stairs were severing as a major barrier. Luckily, a guy friend came over, before visiting hours, and carried me up the flights of stairs. Thomas had skipped out of class and had his truck ready for ER transport.
I chose the grimacing blue face on the ER chart that ranked my pain 9 out of 10. I didn’t choose a 10 because, let’s face it, there had to be something out that that hurt more than my leg, like, for instance, a severed arm. The rude doctor tells me to just relax, for if I did, “it would not even hurt.” Despite thinking I was hyping up my pain level, he x-rayed my leg. He soon apologized because my tibia and fibula were broken, one of them in 2 spots. That’s right 3 breaks in my leg for not wearing my stupid shin guards. Needless to say, I was the catalyst for a new campus recreation rule: If you are on the soccer field playing soccer, you must wear shin guards, period.
The next 8 weeks consisted of me in a construction cone orange cast that went from my toes to my mid thigh. The abysmal cast managed to get all kinds of things inside, like a dry leaf compliments of the fall weather that quickly crumbled upon attempts to retrieve it. My forearms began to bulk from use of crutches as my left leg began to atrophy from inactivity. I found myself wearing shorts at Thanksgiving thanks to the incapacity to get pants over the cumbersome orange barrier.
Although I eventually perfected it, trying to crutch to and from classes in a timely manner was very difficult, especially when wearing my backpack full of books. Putting what seemed like a load of bricks on my back made me lose balance and lean backwards, threatening to cause a break to my good leg. In order to keep me safe, alleviate the weight, and speed up my journey across campus, Sarah would put her backpack on her own back and then secure my backpack on in a reverse manner, over her chest. We would leave our room and head to our first classes of the day, which were fortunately at the same time in the same building. Thomas would then meet me outside of my room after class and he would then carry my backpack to the next building. The first week I got very winded when crutching. Although in shape, the ability to run a few miles in a decent time did not stack up to the skills and stamina needed to crutch half a mile to class. As if ordained by God, there was a bench halfway between my dorm and my first class, and Sarah and I would stop and sit on it every morning so I could rest. This jaunt was such an ordeal that we ended up leaving for class about 40 minutes early, which says much for college students.
After my bones healed and muscle mass on the once injured leg improved, the memories of crutching to class became just that, memories. One thing that remained active in my mind, however, was the love shown to me by my friends. Thomas at least knew he was going to marry me, so he was in for the long haul, not to mention scoring major brownie points. Sarah, however, had nothing to gain in this venture; it was just pure kindness and love. Even with all that love, she went above and beyond for me. She carried my backpack, through which she fulfilled the law of Christ:
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
And that, my friends, is what has eternally stuck with me. I needed help with a burden and she was there. Now, this particular burden happened to be a literal, physical one, but I was in need and a Sister in Christ met it. I had a burden and she carried it. I must remind you though that this burden carrying stuff is a two way street. I could have just as easily refused to hand over my bag, insisted on wearing it, allowing it to drag me down, beat me up, and slow my pace. Instead, I gave it to her, not pretending I could do it alone. I knew it was too much, and there was no need to try and prove otherwise, which is a little atypical of me, but it was the reality.
Physical burdens are one thing, but emotional ones, intangible ones, are another, and they tend to be more powerful and weighty than those folks can see. They are the ones we want to keep silent and hidden. We must, however, allow for our friends and family to help as we attempt to carry things that weigh us down. Christians, in fact, are commanded to do just that:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Obviously, from this post, brevity is not one of my strong points, but to sum it up- be encouraged today to get or give help. Admit that the kids can be exhausting, your job frustrating, or your spouse annoying. Take your friend up on her offer to watch your kids so you can go on a date; allow your mother-in-law over to help you clean. Carry a friend’s burden and listen over a cup of coffee. Pray and supplicate on a loved one’s behalf. Be Christ to someone, easing a burden and carrying a backpack along the way :o)