The last time I saw my older brother, I was being wheeled away in a wheelchair. I’d been visiting him and his wife while in the city for a medical appointment, and I was heading home. Excited to see my boys, I woke up early to discover searing pain in my body, especially my back. It was so awful, I couldn’t even stand up.
I knew my plane was leaving at a certain time and I only had a few minutes to get washed, dressed and pack up my things. But in that moment, I couldn’t imagine doing any of it.
Have you ever heard of the spoon theory? As it goes, if you suffer with a disability or chronic illness, you wake up each day with a set of spoons. Spoons equal the energy and ability to do tasks. Each activity costs you a certain number of spoons. Getting dressed may be one spoon, other activities may be five. Running an errand can costs several spoons. Exercise often costs the greatest amount of spoons. And when you run out of spoons, that’s it. You’re done for the day.
So what happens when you wake up with zero spoons? It certainly felt like it that day. I couldn’t move. I lay on my back in the guest room panicking. What was I going to do?
Sometimes we are slow to turn to God for help, other times we aren’t. Usually when pain is present in our lives, we are much less likely to forget. As I lay there with only about thirty minutes to get out of bed and out the door, I called out to God for help.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
I’m not used to God moving quickly – perhaps that’s my lack of faith showing through – but that day was the fastest a prayer has ever been answered in my life. As soon as I finished praying for help, I gathered all my strength and stood up. It hurt like I can’t even describe.
Letting out a deep breath, I prayed for help again. I washed up and got dressed. The pain was great, but God was greater. I felt His presence as He helped me accomplish these small things. A few minutes later, my brother knocked on the door to tell me it was time to go. I told him I felt like I was dying and asked if he had any Advil. He came back with a cold bottle of water and a handful of pain meds. As I downed them, I prayed they would work fast.
God heard me again. As I hobbled to the car, the pain was still great, but I managed to get in. By the time we navigated through the airport, the pain was less, and relief came as support personnel opened up a wheelchair and I sat down. I don’t love using a wheelchair. It makes me feel embarrassed, being the size I am. I’m always afraid of what people will think of me. I don’t know why spectator opinions matter so much to me, but I’m working on that.
Yet sitting helplessly in a wheelchair drugged up on pain meds is how my brother saw me last. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the negative. I could dwell on how it made me sad to see him walking off – his image of me changing from his once agile sister – who jumped with him on trampolines, who raced him up the hill after rolling down, who was able to bicycle as fast as he could, a sister who could walk to someone now so much less able.
Yes, I could get caught up in that. And sometimes I do. The reality is it hurts when you look back over the changes that occur in your life when your body goes through something unnatural. But there’s something else at work here. Where there’s the unnatural, there’s also the supernatural. And I’m not talking about science fiction.
Here’s the thing. The Savior debunks the spoon theory every day. When we cry out to Him for help, He is there. Somehow on the day when I couldn’t move, I flew home, went grocery shopping and visited some friends. Normally, doing any one of those things would liquidate my short supply of spoons. But not when God intervenes. Through His power, my weaknesses are made strong. Through His power that day, my supply of spoons multiplied. In fact, I didn’t think about my energy level at all that day.
I think about that day often. I think about it when I’ve been standing for too long and my legs ache with fire. I think about it after I’ve run errands and I’m recuperating on the couch. I remember my cry for help, and God’s beautiful provision. It still blows my mind that I managed to get on that plane.
God wants to help you when you’re weary. He wants to fill you up when you’re empty. His loving kindness is better than any spoon you’ll ever find. Relying on Him is the only way you can leave your spoons behind.
That day in the airport, I was wheeled to a spot where I’d wait to be taken on board the plane. The support personnel laid my bags on the floor next to me and said someone would be there to help me with them for boarding. Normally, I’d grab my phone and scroll through Facebook or browse through Pinterest while waiting, but that day, I couldn’t because my bag was out of reach. As I sat there, feeling vulnerable and alone, I witnessed something I might have missed with my phone in hand – a spectacular autumn sunrise. As the sun rose past office buildings and skyscrapers, it took my breath away.
Jesus fills our every need. Who knew that morning my greatest need was
to abandon my spoons and wake up with the sun?
JERUSHA BORDEN lives in Eastern Canada with her husband and two sons. She has wanted to be a writer since she was ten years old. She loves writing about her journey and sharing the love of God with others. She believes she is exactly where God wants her to be, writing exactly what He wants her to write.
Radical hope. Compassionate change. Equipping those affected by chronic physical and mental illness through community and education rooted in Jesus Christ.