When I was a freshman at Lipscomb University, I participated in Singarama. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Singarama, it's the Harding equivalent of Spring Sing or the Abilene Christian University equivalent of Sing Song...only better. (Sorry, HU and ACU friends. I gotta stay true to my Alma Mater. ;) ) For those of you not familiar with any of those, it's basically a time when the majority of students on campus either choose or are assigned to a specific group, given a topic, and then write a story line with accompanying songs, choreography, props, costumes, etc. The group performs and competes with other groups for bragging rights in front of a panel of judges and a live audience. It's like watching 3 mini-musicals, really. And it's SO much fun!! If you'd like to know more, you can visit this page for a more detailed description of what this year's Singarama was like.
Anyway, you may be thinking that I twisted my ankle while performing with my group but you'd be wrong. I actually made it through all the choreography and scene changes without injury. So, what really happened? We had a cast party at a skating rink after our final performance. (Now, you're getting the picture.) My family naturally drove up from Georgia to see the show and went skating with us afterwards, at least my high-school freshman brother did. lol It is important to note here that my brother was a fantastic athlete and the sport really didn't matter much. He played baseball, basketball, could ride a dirt bike and speed skate. It's like he was fearless when it came to a competitive sport, whether he had any prior experience with it or not. (Remind me to tell you sometime about the time he drove an ATV into the Raintree Village pond...on Christmas day!)
So, the d.j. at the rink decides it's time for some races. He called the boys up and I see my brother on the starting line, ready to pounce! I was pretty sure he was going to win before they even started. Not necessarily because he was so much better than anyone else out there physically. He was just determined. It was written all over his face that night. No one else stood a chance. Know what he won? A cute little stuffed animal. Know who he gave it to? Me. :D
Now picture this: The race is over, the rink is an all-skate once again and I'm minding my own business skating around the rink at a nice, steady, comfortable pace. It's important to note here that I was NOT as fantastic an athlete and the sport really didn't matter much. Matt, trying to be cute, comes up behind me and grabs my arm going about mach 2 with his hair on fire. So, guess what? Now, I'm going mach 2 with my hair on fire except I don't have the control that he does. After my begging, he finally lets me go but by that time we were rounding a corner and one that I just could not make. I was going too fast. My ankle gave out underneath me and I smacked the edge of the rink and went flying into the lobby area. You know, the carpeted place with the little circle benches where people sit and the lockers are lined up against the wall? Yeah, that. I couldn't even stand up and my ankle quickly became the size of a melon. Matt was one of the first people over there to help me. He felt just awful. I mean absolutely awful about the whole thing. He just kept saying, "Aw, I'm sorry, Steph. I'm just so sorry. I didn't mean to. I really didn't. Aw man, I'm so sorry." How could I be mad at him? Particularly when he was truly apologetic. It hurt. I ain't gonna lie but then again, I was still on a rush. That was the fastest I had ever gone around a skating rink! Scary as you-know-where but, man! What a thrill! (Until the crash and burn part, of course.)
He and some other guys carried me out. I really don't think that was entirely necessary. I mean, I couldn't put pressure on that leg, that was for sure, but they wouldn't even let me try to stand upright. I had to go to the doctor the next business day and he advised me to stay off that leg for at least 3 weeks. Well, that wasn't going to work. I was going on a choral mission trip in a matter of days. He told me to wear crutches, then. Like I was going on a plane and traipsing around England and Scotland on crutches?? I don't think so. Pass. (Yes, I'm stubborn and bull-headed. You want to make something of it? ;) ) We settled for keeping it wrapped and putting as little pressure on it as possible...staying off my feet and elevating my leg whenever possible. He also prescribed a pain reliever which I was happy to take.
My ankle never fully recovered from that incident. It hasn't left a daily affliction or anything and I can still run but it has always been temperamental since then. That accident happened nearly 16 years ago but it left a mark, probably until the end of time. It feels sore sometimes, achy, for what seems like no reason at all. Maybe it's a change in barometric pressure or something. Who knows? It still gives out on me sometimes like tonight when my step is just a little off. The pain used to really annoy me (and still does sometimes) but I have a new appreciation for it now that Matt has gone home to be with Jesus. Whenever my ankle starts acting up, I remember Matt and I remember that night. I remember that exhilarating moment of going mach 2 before crashing and burning and how scary yet thrilling it was at the same time. I remember the smile on his face and later, the concern. I'm also reminded with every throb that one day there will be no more pain. No death. No sorrow. Everything will be made new. I'm thankful for my personal reminder of that promise. And I'm thankful for the memory so closely tied to it. Isn't it amazing how God can take these "accidents" and these "afflictions" and make them beautiful? joyful? Wow. How does He do that? I'm reminded of the story of Jacob wrestling with God. I wonder what Jacob (Israel) thought about his limp after that encounter. It was wearisome, I have no doubt, but the man wrestled with God! ...and lived!! What a wonderful reminder of God's grace wrapped in a lesson of humility. I'm thankful for my precious brother and the mark he left on me for life. I'm thankful for my precious LORD and the mark He left on me for eternity.