Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's a Cheerleader to do With a Broken Heart

where I lost my heart and the wrestling match began
One of my BFF's and I were enjoying a night out. The laughter was flowing freely before we opened the door to the eatery. We collected our order on auto-pilot not missing a beat in our game of 'catch up'. Sitting down at the table we agreed that I'd bless the food. We were the kind of friends that sealed the deal with a nod – no words required.

When we'd met a few years before, her sadness was so great that if she referred to prayer, she'd just say, “P-word.” That was her signal that she needed prayer. She was in the midst of her own “Mamma, Don't Pray, “ days feeling as if her prayers brought more pain any time she dared utter one. In fact, she wouldn't even utter the word 'pray' in any form when we met. The tables were turning now. She heartily and frequently encouraged me that she was praying for me. The same words had now begun to stick in my throat. I still tried to be God's cheerleader, but I didn't shake my pom-pom's much anymore. I was hanging on for my dear spiritual life by bloody fingernails.

This particular day, however, I was buoyed by our laughter and easily launched into a traditional pre-meal blessing. All went well until it was time for the A-men: “Ok. Talk to ya later....” I ended the prayer and looked up to continue our gab fest without missing a beat. I registered a micro-expression on her face. It was just large enough to catch my attention so that I stopped mid-way of my 2nd or 3rd post-prayer sentence. “Did...did I just say....?”

At that point, she exploded in laughter, threw her napkin up in the air and said, “ did...You didn't say, 'A-men.' You said, 'talk to ya later.' I thought, goodness! I know they are on good terms, but that's...that's a whole lot closer than even I imagined!” We laughed; we laughed till we cried. That incident became a part of our mutual folklore.We'll laugh about it every time one of us says, “talk to ya later.” We'll laugh about it every time food needs blessing.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
How did a girl who was so close to God that she ended a prayer with, “Talk to you later...” end up having to write her way back to him? How did it happen to me? I know what happened, but I don't know why I ran out of steam as it were. Cheerleaders never lose their perk, right? Or, have I just not really known what goes on behind a cheerleader's mask? Can someone tell me how a cheerleader keeps on cheering when she loses heart?

The rain had begun to come down in a fine mist. I could choose to go straight down the hill in the back yard on the grass. I could choose to go along the brow of the hill. Part of the brow was absent of grass and littered with rocks, acorns, and sweet gum balls. I had often cautioned anyone in our back yard, “Stay off the brow-a-that hill!” To me, it looked like an accident waiting to happen. Ha! Yea...I guess the great American novel writer would call that an example of foreshadowing if not an outright premonition.

Feeling the urgency to get the mower in out of the rain and make my way on to the milk run, I set out straight along the forbidden brow of the hill. As I went, I berated myself. Step 1 on my right leg: Why are you doing this? You tell EVERYONE to avoid this area. Step 2 on my left leg: What are you doing? What are you thinking? Step 3: Oh, dear Lord, NO! NO! NO! NO!

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
My brain went into that life-flashes-before-your-eyes hyper-speed, and my thoughts came more quickly than a super hero's. My ankle rolled outward as I launched into a 360 degree flip. I knew my leg was broken before I hit the ground. I did not know it was broken on both sides of my ankle nor that the smaller long bone running from my ankle to knee was also broken about 1/3 of the way up.

In the space of that roll, I thought a bazillion things, and I thought them all at God:
Why? I live in a tri-level. My husband lives SIX hours away. What am I going to do? I have told you I have taken all I can take in the last 10 years. What part of 'all' don't you get? This is 'all'. I quit. I just quit. I can't do more than I've done to cling to you all this time. If you want me, you are going to have to come and find me because I've looked and looked and looked for you. Where are you? WHY? Do you SEE me? I can't chase you anymore. I'm done. I'm all alone, and I know it.”

I sat in the mist on the scree that peppered the hill I told everyone to stay off of watching the dirt begin to turn to mud. I tried to work my way back up the hill on my behind and hands. I quickly realized that tho' the skin was not broken, I would have to hold a bone in place. At first I thought, “Oh, good! Will is home studying. They will realize something's up. No. They think I'm at the grocery store. I could lay here for an hour.” I began to call and then scream and then bellow. Nausea welled over me, and I knew I was slipping into shock. No neighbors could see me if anyone was even home. No dogs barked alarm at my cries. The house was shut up tight with no windows open.

Finally, 2 wide-eyed boys came busting out the back door. “My leg is broken. Get your cell phones.” I directed son #1 to call the ambulance and son #2 to call my brother thinking he was only a mile away at my parents'. Once those calls were made, I began to think thru what needed to be done next and calmly dispatched directions. “Get my keys, phone, and license off the front seat of the van. Get my insurance card. I can't swallow anything, but get me some water to rinse my mouth. I'll rinse and spit. Get a blanket. “ I had operated on auto-pilot for so many years I guess I didn't know how to do anything else even tho' dry heaves began to overwhelm me.

Even as I clicked thru my EMS is on the way to do list, I wrestled with God. “You know I can't take anymore. I know no one is dying. I know it is not something hideous like cancer. I know I am not a leper in China. But, I'm just too tired to take anymore now. We had just caught our breath. We had just 'remarried' and begun to taste restoration. Now I'm in a house I can't sell with a husband who is 6 hrs away. I sure won't be moving now. What part of 'I can't take anymore' don't you get?”
After too many minutes and several phone calls to 911, my EMS ride appeared. Finally, I began to cry. Not as hard as I would, but the tears began to come. As they got me to the gurney and up my long hill, I knew they had only picked up my body. My heart was on that hill looking for the good God with whom I had just begun the wrestling match of my life. If I thought the last 10 years had been a challenge. I had no idea what the next year was preparing for me. 
Oh anybody out there? Where does a cheerleader go when she's lost her pep. Especially if that cheerleader is a life long fraidy cat? Life can be so lonely behind our masks. How long has it been since you took yours off? If you did, would you scare me as much as I scare you without mine? I've said it before. I'll say it again. If you know a fraidy cat or someone whom life has overwhelmed, bring them back with you tomorrow? Tell them you've found a place where fraidy cats can take off their masks and rest a while? I hope we will all be glad you did.
Love you long and strong. See you soon?

Genesis 32: 28,30(NIV)
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

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