The other day as I stumbled on a video of “Tisha Unarmed” a young woman born without arms, demonstrating how she puts on her clothes every morning. You can find the link here. I watched, enthralled, as this twenty-something with a belly stud cheerfully wriggled into a bra, then her shorts and top with nothing but her toes and a stick with a small hook. “Get your shirt on backwards?” she chirped. “No problem! Just turn it with your teeth – when you don’t have arms, it won’t get caught!”
I had see this kind of confidence only once before . . . in my sister, Chris, who could hop circles around me not long after she lost her leg to cancer. I marveled at her fearlessness, amazed at the things she was able to accomplish with one leg things that I had never dreamed of doing, even with two good legs. Skiing, horseback riding, even raising a family came as naturally to her as breathing. Me, I could only look on with admiration . . . and a bit of awe.
This past year, I’ve been navigating unchartered waters, reminded of something that St. Teresa of Avila used to tell her sisters: the virtues most needed in the Christian life, apart from love, are detachment and humility. Detachment comes from stripping, as bit by bit God takes away all the non-essential elements of life until we have no choice but to lean on him alone. And humility comes as you are forcibly “detached” in full view of the rest of the world. At times like that, you have only two choices: bitterness or thanksgiving. In today’s psalm, we read the plaintive appeal of a soul that understood what it is to flounder in darkness.
Gracious is the Lord and just
Yes, our God is merciful.
The Lord keeps his little ones;
I was brought low, and he saved me.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
Every woman, at one time or another, experiences firsthand what it means to flounder, to question, to doubt. Every woman knows what it is to be stripped of every last bit of pride, and to be forced to lean upon the One who alone can save us. And in the saving, we come to understand that, in being brought low, we are ultimately raised to glory.
What would you say was the hardest time of your life? What did you learn from that experience of being “brought low”?
Copyright 2012 Heidi Hess Saxton