My Grandpa Clive lived in England and would often visit the states in January, around my birthday. Above is a picture of him performing a magic show at my 6th or 7th birthday party. It was so exciting to show my friends my magical grandpa. He'd make ropes grow and ropes shrink; cards appear and balls disappear.
My grandpa's stiff leg made him walk with a limp. Somewhere in my young mind I’d concluded he must have a wooden leg, just like stiff ‘ole Pinocchio. My mom often told the story of my surprise when I lifted my grandpa’s pant leg in front of my friends (intending to show them his peg leg) only to find a REAL LEG. The adults all laughed, knowing the truth. I, on the other hand, was shocked to see a fleshy leg!
Do you sometimes feel like your story has left you with a limp? Do you sometimes wish you could make the story of your past change in ways that feel good (maybe add a fairy tale rescue from the evil stepmother), or vanish those parts of your past that have left you feeble and weary (like the abandonment of an alcoholic parent or partner)? Are you afraid to reveal the truth about what keeps you limping along in life? Perhaps you don’t even know what causes your limp.
As a young adult I learned the truth about my grandpa's handicap: when he was a boy his brother found an opened can with jagged edges. In a dare, he pounded it into my grandfather’s knee. Damage was done that could never be repaired. He carried the pain of that event for the rest of his life with a stiff leg and a limp.
We all have those pains, don’t we? Some from childhood, some from adulthood. And we limp around with them not sure how to repair the damage that was done. Do we just forgive and forget and move on? If only it was that easy.
The divorce of my parents at age ten and the abandonment and abuse that followed did irreversible damaged to me: it broke my heart, my family and my faith. So broken. I was never the same, limping through life, trying to act as if I had it all together, pretending no one could see it, desperately wanting be normal, to fit in, to be liked. I limped into my marriage at the age of 25 with the thought, if this doesn’t work we’ll just divorce. Divorce. The very thing that damaged my family, my heart and my faith in the first place.
My husband and I have limped through three decades together, wondering how to do this marriage and parenting thing. I'm happy to say we've rallied over the pain of our pasts and we're stronger today than we've ever been! My family of origin limped into these past 30 years and failed to rally: my mother unable to hear the truth of how my stepfather abused me has chosen to be absent in my life, my younger brother is angry and bitter, struggling with addictions and insecurities, and my father is now deceased after challenges for decades of how to be a loving husband and a dad. So damaged.
It took many years in therapy and reconnecting with God to identify what kept me limping through life. Honestly, it wasn’t until I knelt before the towering cross in the sanctuary that I felt immense healing to my damaged heart, family and faith. I’d had this vision for many years to kneel under the cross in our huge sanctuary and lay this burden of hurt down. When I first had this thought, before I understood the power of the cross, this seemed so silly! And what if someone saw me? Eek! Finally, after sharing my testimony to the congregation one Thanksgiving, I got down on my knees and laid all my hurt, all my abandonment, all my struggles with my mom and dad at the foot of the cross. I now know that it was the Holy Spirit calling me, letting me know I didn’t have to carry the pain of my past anymore.
I still limp along through life as we all do, as if I had a wooden leg. But that day when I laid it down changed everything! My burden is so much lighter.
You too, can lay it down. God wants to take your burdens from you. If you've strayed far from him he wants you back, no matter how far you've gone! Go to the cross, kneel before him and feel His power work in your life. He will take your burden and give you rest.
Matthew 11:28-30 New International Version (NIV)
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light