When I was in high school, I laid flat on my back in a body cast.
For many, many months.
So during all four years of high school, when I wasn't in surgery, staying in the hospital for physical therapy, or home recovering, I walked with crutches. I didn't have a boyfriend. And, though I was just like every other high school girl who longs to be noticed and loved, I didn't really expect to have one.
Because what high school boy wants to date the girl who can't walk?
As God began to heal me - after my third three-month stint in that horrible body cast - I learned to walk with a cane.
And, the day I graduated from high school, I decided it was time to let go of the security of my cane and walk - for the first time since the beginning of ninth grade.
But, I would look down at the scars on my legs, or cringe in pain from the arthritis that would never go away, and I couldn't let go of the question: Who will ever want me?
Less than three years later, I met my husband. The sweet and tender boy who looked past the scars that cover my legs, who walked slowly, hand-in-hand with me when my arthritis kept me steps behind everyone else, and who sat next to my hospital bed, hour upon hour, after my first hip replacement.
I was filled with such joy that cold, December day when that boyfriend became my husband. And, his love for me made my scars seem to fade.
As we began to think about starting a family, I looked down with freshly doubting eyes at the scars on my legs - the evidence of the trauma of my many surgeries in high school and double hip replacements years later. I could feel the effects of arthritis on my body and I was filled, again, with doubt. Upon doubt.
Will I ever be a mother?
This weekend, I attended my 20-Year High School Reunion. Which truly is impossible since I'M 20, for the love.
But, as I sat and chatted with old (ahem), familiar faces and reminisced about those days long ago, my past experiences of doubt came flooding back. Those long days in my body cast as a self-conscious teenager. Longing to be loved, but not feeling worthy. My desire for children, but not believing motherhood could happen to me.
We all face these seasons of doubt. Wanting. Waiting. And, wondering.
Will I ever get married?
Will I have children?
Will I get the job?
Will I ever stop feeling such pain?
Will my heart ever heal?
I remember the doubting. I remember how it felt to not know if or when. On so many levels. And, for things I desperately longed to experience.
For some things in my life, God has said: No. Or the ever-difficult: Wait.
But, "No" and "Wait" are the answers He uses to teach me to trust Him.
Because He has never left me there. Not permanently. His "Nos" and "Waits" are always the dark tunnel through which I call out "God, Where are You?" and I learn to trust Him more. It's not easy. But, nothing of real value ever is.
I walked into my reunion this past weekend with my husband - the one who taught me to believe in love. And, with my five children - who are the most precious creatures on earth to me.
I never could have imagined that 20 years earlier. Because the tunnel was dark. And, the road felt so long.
My legs still bear the scars of the trauma from those many years ago. And, I still have doubts - about a lot of things. Doubts and wonderings and "Oh, God, you haven't forgotten me, have You?"
But, when I doubt, I now cling to this promise:
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
When we ask, "God, why this road?", He is making a way.
And, as we travel down each new road He's asking us to walk - or crutch, or hobble, or wheel, or crawl with tears of doubt falling onto the wasteland below us - we can know that God NEVER wastes our wounds.
But, that in time, when we look down upon our scars, we will have JOY.
Because we see how He healed us.