About this time last year, I was nervously dodging through the busy sidewalks of campus, guarding my right arm which was in a cast from my shoulder to my wrist. The falling snow seemed to mock me for how I got in this predicament in the first place: sledding. Yes, it’s possible to shatter your elbow sledding. This certainty wasn’t my brightest moment, but the provoking pep talk from one sister in particular, convinced me it was a great idea to go full speed down the hill in order to “reach the full potential.” I grabbed the sled, and with a running start, I flew down the hill. At the bottom of the hill was a half pipe (seen in the cover image), which provided the coveted rush of getting airborne. This last run down the slopes was the fastest I had ever gone. I plunged down into the half pipe and shot up on the other side–I thought I was flying! Until…I came crashing down, landing on the sparse 1 inch cushion of snow covering the ground, right on my elbow. I laid there for a couple minutes, unable to move from the excruciating pain. I tried to beckon my sister, however, they couldn’t hear me over their laughter and the fun they were having. Finally, everyone came over and thought I was joking. Once they realized I wasn’t, they attempted to carry me up the hill, back to the car. Fast forward and I finally made it home, then to the hospital, and then a week later my arm had a 5 inch incision all stitched up with a metal plate and 5 screws inside.
A year later, I am happy to report that earlier today went to a yoga inversions and arm balance workshop. Now, if you’re not familiar with this concept, its basically in the title: doing various challenging poses balancing on only your hands or elbows. Before the class began, the instructor gave a brief introduction and suggested the intention for the workshop be no matter how many times you fell, to let go of all judgement, be patient with yourself, and try again. Of course I fell multiple times, and a couple elbow stands in, my right elbow was hurting pretty bad due to the pressure on the plate. However, I thought of how a year ago, I couldn’t even write with this arm, and now I was using it to balance. Sure, I wasn’t doing it perfectly, but I had worked hard and waited months to come this far!
It’s easy to get caught up in the misery and pain of a circumstance. It’s easy to give up on something that requires effort and a lot of hard work. It’s easy to fall into the rut of criticizing yourself and your mistakes, believing the doubt and lies that you aren’t good enough or won’t be able to do it (whether that’s getting your elbow back to almost normal or overcoming an addiction). It’s crazy to think what could happen if you put all of the energy you use doubting and making excuses into believing in yourself and saying “I can do this!” Perspective is everything.
I am trying to adapt this way of thinking into my own life, and it is challenging, especially when you don’t feel motivated and it seems like everything is going wrong. I mess up quite frequently, but just like falling in arm balancing or sledding, you have to get back up. You have to allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes and have patience, let go of judgement, accept that you will fall, but also accept that you will get back up. You’ll get back up because you are worth it. You’ll get back up because you’re stronger than you believe. You’ll get back up because you are courageous. As Mary Anne Radmacher says so eloquently, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed2 Corinthians 4:8-9
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.2 Timothy 1:7