Last night I got all dressed up for my 30th high school reunion. I was nervous. I’d skipped all the other reunions and now I was facing people I hadn’t seen, at least most of them, for 30 years and back then we were all young, healthy and had all our body parts. Now I would face them minus an entire leg and from a wheelchair.
I hadn’t been able to face my Sunday School class at a swim party the weekend before and I see them usually once a week. They had been with me every step of the way through the “before amputation” stages, the actual “amputation” stages and the “after amputation” stages as well. What made me think I could face a room full of people who may as well now be strangers? I just felt like I had to.
Like I have that “need” to do a tandem sky jump…
…to push the envelope when it comes to my independence…
…to drive my husband crazy with my crazy ideas…
I’ve long loved this verse of scripture found in I Corinthians 15:10a; “But by the grace of God I am what I am and his grace to me was not without effect.” I am what I am. God’s grace makes me what I am and it has its effect in and on me. Despite feeling awkward as I wheeled around the room last night, I kept repeating that portion of scripture to myself.
Later in the evening as I sat at the table with my high school best friend and my husband and was re-acquainted with old classmates I realized something else. The girl I was in 1982, who wept at the thought of never seeing some of the very people I didn’t recognize last night had been desperate to feel part of these still slim and beautiful, successful people.
Sometimes in that quest I paid a high price. Not just with stupid diet decisions but in bad decisions that shredded my self-esteem. I gave away parts of myself to men who were not worthy of them and who in the end didn’t appreciate the gift at all.
In those high school years I was the girl sitting at home on prom nights because I wasn’t one of the cute girls or at least a thin one. I imagined magical nights of dancing with a number of handsome boys I knew and danced with none of them, ever.
Last night the only wish I had been that “Mr. Cool & Cute” who was spinning the tunes would play one slow song so I could “dance” with my husband one time. That one song, that lasted I’m sure no more than four minutes, meant a world of joy to me, so much I wept through most of it.
Those slim and beautiful girls from high school were, for the most part, still slim and beautiful. Those cute guys were still visible beneath the 30 years of aging we’d done. Oh, time had marched its way across all of us. But for a bunch of folks in our later 40’s we all looked good. Yes, we ALL looked good, even me.
Most of all, when I left last night, I felt like I loved the woman I am now, far more than I liked the girl I was then. I also had more compassion for the girl I was then than I did then for I know her complete history and can freely acknowledge every bit of it.
Now the second part of I Corinthians 15:10 came to me, “No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was within me.” (N.I.V.) My life hasn’t been any more traumatic or hurtful than anyone else’s, I dare not claim that, but I can also say I was one of those who had to allow God’s grace to work in me harder because I fell for the world’s version of what beautiful and successful was really hard.
Furthermore, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” (I Timothy 1:15 N.I.V.) One who enjoyed that one slow dance better than any other dance in my lifetime so far.
Furthermore, I have a sure assurance now that when this life, with all its issues, woes and sorrows is at last over, I am going home. “Going home, I’ll meet you at the table. Going home, I’ll meet you in the air…and you are never too young to think about it…I’ll be going home, I’ll be going home…” (CD “Conversations” song, “Going Home” as sung by Sara Groves.)