Knocked down

My mother loved to describe my learning to walk, out on the grass behind our house on Oxmead Road, in Burlington, NJ. We had a nanny goat named Minerva. I’d attempt to stand, in typical toddler fashion with my diaper-padded derriere rising first, thus providing an irresistible target for our well-horned goat. Before I could straighten and get my balance, she would come running and butt me flat on my face.

Mom holding Janie w grandfather in background

For some reason, this was hysterical to my parents as they watched from the porch. I never got why it was funny.

But it did explain how I learned to get back up, again.

Janie in backyard
On back porch

And, obviously I did learn to walk (in spite of Minerva, who suddenly disappeared from our lives when she ate the sheets off the line, then went for mom’s roses).

I would have never walked if I’d stayed on my tummy, wailing into the grass.

We all get knocked down. Whether by cruelty, abuse, neglect, maliciousness, sickness, or a broken relationship, the death of a dream or a loved one, accidental injury or targeting by evil intent, we have all been sucker-punched at least once.
For most of us, way more than once.

So it isn’t about asking if we’ve been knocked down.

It’s about our determination to get back up, no matter how long or what it takes to get there.

(A note here about down time: YD gave me a wall plaque that I love. It reads:

Prayer: It’s hard to stumble when you’re on your knees.

A lot of wisdom there.)

I think much of our adult behavior is shaped by how we initially cope with face-plants. We form habits when we are too young to evaluate their effectiveness or cost to us, but we survive, so we figure it works.

We often continue responding the same way well into our adult lives, sabotaging our present circumstances.

It’s as if that take-down when we were one takes us down again at 14, 30, or 70, unless we are aware, and work to change our response.

Work is the operative word.

No habit goes without a fight. And I’m beginning to think emotional habits are the hardest of all to change. A knock-down can easily launch a temporary crippling pity party in me, and unmanageable frustration or rage in others.

My emotional journey would have started better if my mother had come off the porch, picked me up and comforted me, and restrained Minerva so I could learn to walk with nothing more than my own weakness or lack of coordination to trip me up.

She didn’t. (I know, now, she had her own take-downs that impeded her living and mothering, no matter how much she wanted to be a good mother. Forgiveness and healing have been huge here.)

There must have been more events like that, because I grew up thinking my feelings and pain didn’t matter, that speaking up wouldn’t bring assistance, and that I was helpless in the face of strength.

I’ve been knocked down a lot.

Like Minerva, the strong ones know a target when they see it.

But I have gotten back up.

Little Mac in Johnny’s arms
LIttle Mac on blanket, Virginia Beach, VA

When my precious little brother, Mac, drowned in Lake Oswego, through the love of my aunt and uncle in Philly, and the prayers and guidance of my grandmother in Ocean City, NJ, my aching heart came back to life in the hands of Jesus.

After we moved from Oswego, NY, I learned that my first boyfriend there had been killed, hit by a careless driver.

I cried all night.WalterThen I got back up, again.

 

Every time the Navy moved us, every three or four years, just when I’d left my introverted corner and made friends, I was thrust into a new situation. I didn’t think I could survive.

But I did.

My list goes on, as yours probably does, too.

What matters is I discovered I am not, in fact, ever alone. I never have been, even in my mother’s womb.

The Spirit of the One who loves me perfectly gives me strength to rise when I think I cannot go on.

At my age, the struggles are less about other people and relationships and more about my body not putting up a good fight. I have spent much of the last 2 1/2  years working to heal.

I’m doing everything in my power to get back up,

and kick fear behind me, no matter what my body does.

To live fully

To love more

Always looking forward to an eternal life with no knock-downs!

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I Peter 1:3-5 MSG

How have you learned to get back up?

 

All things new, from whatever we bring to the table

My youngest daughter, YD, is asking me to write the story of my life. Why would anyone want to read all that depressing stuff? She says it could give hope to women going through dark valleys right now, to see how I have prevailed, how God has made goodness from my brokenness. I wasn’t convinced, until this past week, when I began a memory t-shirt quilt with my oldest daughter for my grandson’s birthday. OD had collected t-shirts spanning most of his life. We sorted through the shirts, looking for striking colors, interesting designs and logos, and outstanding memories.

I was uneasy cutting up perfectly good t-shirts. (I’m from the waste-not-want-not family. Of course, I saved the left-overs for rags.)

scraps from t shirts

Through most of my early life, I felt like those left-overs.

Torn, missing pieces, needing the impossible to be whole.

 

When we had enough, we cut and prepped the blocks, then lay them out to plan the design.

OD arranging blocks cropped
OD arranging blocks

As I cut and stitched, I felt the Lord showing me how he has snipped and stitched in my life, pressing and pinning and joining, during times I couldn’t feel his presence. Sometimes, only the pain.

But he was always there.

Always working.

Always creating.

After I sewed the blocks together the back was a mess.  Only threads and rough edges of seams, only snatches of color showing through.

quilt back
Quilt back

quilt back close up

I’m not a perfect quilter, by any means. But when I turned the fabric over, all those pieces of my grandson’s life came together, making what I hope he will enjoy.

I’d taken snippets of his life and stitched them together to make something altogether different. Cast-off shirts had become a beautiful quilt for his new room.

Quilt for Alex
Finished quilt

I cannot ignore the lesson whispered along with the whir of the sewing machine.

God is the perfect Creator, and his finished product, when I arrive before him in heaven, will be beautiful and whole. But even now, I bear the marks of the Creator, snatches of beauty, areas where I can bring blessing and love to others.

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I Peter I:3-5 MSG 

I guess YD is right. I need to share it. Even those of us with memories we’d rather keep buried have a Creator ready to work us into something beautiful to bless those around us, as long as we’ll allow him to work. As long as we are willing to take up new thought patterns, trusting him with our lives.

Have you found that to be true for you?

Or do you think it’s better to let some things stay buried?