Thursday, October 27, 2016

GRACE.

I think there is something wrong with my bike.

No, I promise it’s fine.

That was our only exchange about my bike, between my aunt and me, as we traveled up a mountain, on Mercer Island, Washington. She lives there. She always bikes and swims. She had the bikes checked. 

I peddled hard. My thoughts were racing...why am I so out of shape if I am a dancer? Why am I out of shape if I go to the Sports’ Mall every single day? Why am I out of shape if my job is chasing children around or teaching them dance, an active sport? Was it that McDonalds’ cheeseburger last week? Was it because I didn’t eat breakfast today? Why is it so hard to peddle this bike up this hill?

The next day, my uncle, after listening to my story of aching legs at breakfast, checked the bike I peddled up the mountain. He came back into his dining room, where we all sat, and said, with an incredibly perplexed look on his face, Sarah, both of the tires on that bike are flat. You rode seven miles, up a mountain, with flat tires.
Yes. I did wheel up the mountain with two flat tires. And, yes, I had no idea the tires were flat. If there was ever any doubt my blonde hair is one hundred percent real, you now know the truth. I rode the whole way, thinking I was out of shape, thinking I ate one too many cheeseburgers. But, I was wrong. Dead wrong.

I hesitate to tell you the story I will tell next -  because I don’t want anyone to think life is filled with only bad stuff. But, then, I think it isn’t only filled with bad stuff, it’s filled with all of it...the good stuff, the mediocre stuff, and the bad stuff. But, I also know, no one wants to hear about the bad stuff. So I keep all the bad stuff and lock it in the safe that lives by my heart and soul and save it for later. Save it for when someone needs or wants to hear it. Like one of my dearest soul friends, Shan, says, “Sarah, you talk a lot in analogies, and I get that, so thank you,”. 

But what Shan doesn’t know is, she taught me, years ago, exactly the way I learn, when she first uttered that sentence about analogies. Yes, I do learn a lot from analogies or stories of comparison. Yes, I do. Even if those analogies come from my very, own life.

I read a book by, Barbara Brown Taylor. And, then I watched her on Super Soul Sunday and I knew I loved her. She shared she keeps ‘the Sabbath’, Sunday. I decided to do the same. Sunday is my very, special holy day. I keep it for me and I keep it private. 

A few weeks ago, my mom called. She offered to drive over to my house and pick up Belle and take her for a walk. I replied to her that I was about to head out the door and I was happy to drop Belle off at her home. 

I dropped Belle of at my parents’ house. I turned off my car and attached Belle’s leash and handed her off to my mom.

And, then, I tried to start my car again. The car would not start. I waited, impatiently, starting my car over and over again. I cried to my mom. I asked, out loud, why I couldn’t just have one Sunday without problems, just one day. And, then, I tried to start the car again, and it started, and with my dad following me home. I made it safely, home, in my garage.

Two days later, after my dad drove me to the repair shop after a funeral, he called to tell me, “Sarah, someone took my car today. I can’t get into my house, can you call Mom, please?”. 

I called my mom and then, five minutes later, I broke into a moment of hysteria, only akin to Hollywood movies. I remembered my ‘car wheelchair’ was in the back of his Four Runner - a Four Runner that someone just decided to steal out of a parking lot. 

I broke, for so many reasons. I worked seventeen years to try to prepare for the inevitable. I fought for a second wheelchair, because after having your wheelchair resposesed, because your insurance didn’t pay, you realize the importance of a back up. I broke because I actually thought I could control what I thought I could control.

Here’s the big truth. The big moral of the story. You can’t control anything. The only thing you are ever offered is grace. 

Today, I drove to the river, in my repaired and fully functioning car, to walk Belle at the river. And, half way through our walk, I realized, my bearing on my wheelchair was awful. My wheeling at the river was more like pushing 1200lbs up a hill. I broke, again. This time for real. Like, I didn't think I could push anymore, at all. Not at all. Not one more time. And I let the break happen. I was so tired and it was so hard to push and I just had to surrender to the break. The wheelchair and me. And then the grace came. 

As I wheeled, on a flat surface, thinking I was out of shape, knowing I only eat avocados and tomatoes and cilantro and whole grain bread, I thought, for the first time, I may not just be sick, I may not just be out of shape, this wheelchair might actually be broken again, even after I had it fixed four weeks ago, it just might be broken.

I continued on, pretending to allow Belle to sniff, while I took moments to breathe and shake out my arms. And then I, finally, realized my wheelchair might just be broken.

I work and worked seventeen years to prevent silly problems like wheelchairs breaking and medical supply issues from happening. But, guess what, everything will happen. Prevention or not. There actually was a mistake in a medical supply shipment today. A very important shipment. And my ONE wheelchair doesn’t work. And I chose not to believe said wheelchair did not work, until mile three.

Guess what else, though? That’s when I felt the grace. Not because a huge gust of wind propelled me forward into my heated and waiting car with a cowboy, star of Hamilton the musical, George Clooney type, who was waiting in the driver’s seat and said come on in.

No, because, when my arms just COULD NOT TAKE IT ANYMORE and I stopped to smile at a runner, who lapped me twice, and I was trying to keep it all together and, instead, I broke down, right down there, at the river...in the middle of the perfect Instagram pictures -  of the rowers on the river - with the caption that conveyed, something like, you know it’s all fall when you see a crew team on the river...I started, right in front of the hydrangeas and the crew team, sobbing and hyperventelating and asking...why, why, why, why, what did I ever, ever do to you? What did I ever do wrong? I know I fail. I know my mouth is awful, but what did I do to deserve this? Please just tell me. I will fix it. I just want to know why all of this bad stuff just keeps happening even when I beg and pray and try to think thoughts and act and act and again to prevent the bad stuff. Just why?

I heard an answer. Not the one that comes with some prize or gold medal or whatever. But, an answer. And here it is, from whomever or whatever you believe it came. It’s what I heard, it’s what I felt. The answer is...

This is what is called grace. This is the knowing. The knowing the odds are stacked against you. You are stuck. You are paralyzed. And, then, you move, ANYWAY. YOU MOVE ANYWAY. You move with the odds, you with with the sticky and the stuck. YOU MOVE ANYWAY. AGAINST THE ODDS.

That’s grace.

Grace isn’t shiny and sparkly and noteworthy.

Grace is coming home and building your own fire, after your dad - who had his car ripped from him - with your wheelchair in the back, taught you how to build your very own fire. Grace is sitting it front of said fire, that I made all on my own and feeling like you belong. Because this wasn’t supposed to happen. You weren’t supposed to be okay after all of this happened. That’s not how the story normally ends. But, then, grace happens. And Grace teaches you that you are okay. You made it today and yesterday, and you will make it today. And still come home. And still build your fire. 

Grace is knowing you will be okay no matter what happens. Your plans will not work out, even if you read a book about how to make plans work. Even if you earn a degree in anything. Even if you have your dream job. Your plans will not work out. And that's not because I am all pessimistic and all scary. I tell you this because you will need to know, even when the bottom falls out, even when you can't move, even when you feel you are paralyzed or maybe you really are, you need to know, YOU will be okay. YOU will be okay. YOU will rise, YOU will fall, but through it all you will be okay. Yes, you will. 

That’s grace.

Grace is not winning. Grace is not fancy. She is inevitable. Grace is the survival after the uphill climb, during the uphill climb, at the beginning of the uphill climb - especially the climb with the flat tires. She is always there, asking you trust her, asking you to believe you are okay...even when everything else in the world tells you not to trust yourself, much less Grace...Grace waits and is there for you, granting her wisdom, once again, repeating, you are okay. You are okay. I am okay. We are okay. That’s it. That’s grace. 

You are okay...all of it and all, winning or not, you are okay. Broken or whole. Sinner or Saint. You are okay. Grace is yours and mine and all of ours. Yup. No exceptions. Ever. Even me. 



I built this fire. All on my own. And I noticed the banner above, that reads, GIVE THANKS. Yes, give thanks. Even when thanks is super hard. Because all will be well. You will be okay. Give thanks. WE ARE OKAY. WE ARE OKAY. 




8 comments:

  1. I love your words. Thank you!!

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  2. You speak to me more than you may ever know. And FYI my name is Grace.

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    1. This is beautiful, thank you, Grace. xo

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  3. Sarah, you just blow me away with your words, and your heart. I am always so humbled when you share. Sending a hug from California.

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