Bonsai Betsy

I found out today that I have scoliosis. This is why the disc in my back slipped out of place last week. The bend in my back isn’t so bad that I’d noticed anything wrong before now. Now that I know, I can see the signs. The wear pattern on my shoes is a pretty good clue.

My chiropractor says I need three adjustments every week for about a month, then it will taper off and I won’t have to go as often. Even with insurance this will cost me $45 a visit. This is a lot of money, especially after all the other expenses I’ve had recently.

I’m not happy about having to spend more money right now. We’ve got money in savings but I like having more of a cushion for emergencies. I’ve got plenty of sick time and there are extra people in my department right now so I can take time for appointments. It is doable, but I’m not happy about it.

But I need my back. If my car didn’t work I could figure something out. I could get a ride to work, or I could borrow my husband’s car and he could take the bus to work. There are ways. But there is no getting around needing a spine that works correctly.

It isn’t like having crooked teeth and getting braces. Well, kind of it is. That too takes a long time and isn’t cheap, and it hurts. I had braces. I remember. But surgery isn’t recommended for what I have now, just adjustments. That alone is something to be thankful for.

Essentially the doctor is doing body-shop work on me. Essentially my body was in a very slow collision with life and gravity and possibly genetics. I need a front-end alignment on my back end. I’m a bonsai tree that hasn’t been tended properly.

I never knew I could amuse myself so much talking about my deformity.

I have a feeling that there is a punch line coming up. I have a feeling that there is a plan for all of this. I trust God. I know that everything has a reason, and everything happens because it is part of God’s plan.

I also know that sometimes we don’t get to see that reason, and sometimes we are the collateral damage.

People like resolutions. We like to know what the ending is. We like to know that the guy gets the girl and they both ride off into the sunset together. But God doesn’t work that way. God works in God’s time and in God’s ways and there is just no getting around that.

God isn’t in the storm. God is the still, small voice.

God never said this journey of life would be easy, but instead promised to always be with us.

This is really important to remember. Trusting God, loving God, serving God isn’t about everything being awesome all the time. In fact it can be pretty awful. But part of it means trusting that God is in charge, and God has a plan, and that everything will work out the way it needs to work out.

We often can’t see around the corner. We often live with uncertainty. We often don’t know what to do. So we pray, and God tells us, one instruction at a time.

Stay here. Move forward one step. Go this way. Stop. Wait. Move back one. Wait.

When Abraham started listening to that still, small voice, he did that in faith. When Noah built that ark and gathered up all the animals, he did that in faith. When Peter walked out on that water towards Jesus, he did that in faith.

This is what we do, when we walk with God. It isn’t easy. It is pretty scary sometimes. It is like walking on a tightrope, with our eyes closed, with no net.

Passing the test.

Did you ever see Stan Lee’s TV show “Who Wants to be a Superhero”? The contestants were assigned tasks, but there was a hidden assignment that they didn’t know about. In one they had to get from point A to point B really fast – but there was a distraction. A young girl was on their route, crying loudly about how she was separated from her mom. Unbeknownst to the contestants, she was an actress – and this was the real test. The ones who passed the test that round were the ones who stopped and helped her. They didn’t worry about being late on their time – their focus was in helping.

How often do we notice what the real test is? How often do we stop and take time to help?

I admit I’m terrible at it. I have a lot of excuses why I can’t help.

I’m late getting to work. I have ice cream that is going to melt. I don’t know how to help. I don’t have the tools, the training, the time.

So I don’t stop. I drive on by. A lot.

When I do stop, I find that I actually do have everything that is required. I think it is going to require a cast, and really it requires a band-aid. I think it is going to require a therapist, and really it just requires a hug. I’m starting to think that I certainly don’t have to stop for everything, but the things I do get over my fear and stop for turn out to be things that are within my power.

Sometimes my problem is that I don’t want to get too involved. I don’t want to make personal connections. It is way too common that people I help start to see me as something other than a servant. They start to see me as special. They mistake the messenger for the message. They start trying to follow me instead of the One I follow. They ask for my phone number. They want to become friends on Facebook.

It isn’t me. It isn’t me at all. It never was me. I’m just the face that God wears sometimes. I’m just the hands that God uses sometimes. When they see me again, I’m more than likely just going to be me, plain old me, not special, not sparkly.

So sometimes I don’t want to get involved for me, and sometimes I don’t want to get involved for God. I don’t want people to mistake me being me as a slight. Because when God is working through me, it is really amazing. There is a connection. There is understanding, and healing, and compassion.

Me? I’m an introvert. I feel lost in a crowd. When I’m just me and the Spirit isn’t there, I’m not all that. I’m not bad, but I’m not what they think I am.

Sometimes I warn people if I think I’ll see them again. I had to do this a lot in college. The energy often isn’t there the next time. That energy doesn’t mean that “we are meant to be together.” It doesn’t mean that we should “hook up.” It doesn’t mean I’m going to be your guru or your girlfriend. It just meant that God needed me to help you right then, and I listened.

Does this mean I’m passing the test, or failing it? While I think it is essential to always point people towards God, I think it is also important to always be a vehicle for God. I’m not, always. It is tiring. It is hard. But then again, so is exercise, and I do that because I think I’ll get stronger if I do it. Perhaps this faith-walk is the same.

I still don’t think I’m going to stop to change out a tire for somebody, especially when I have just bought ice cream.