How Low Can You Go?

How Low Can You Go?

How Low Can You Go?

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


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  1. Heidi thanks for raising this thought provoking topic. I always try to remind myself when I have these “low” times that there are others in far greater need of love, support and encouragement than I can ever know. Interestingly, I also sometimes feel like my prayer life is more a focus of my attention during these times – which is not necessarily a good thing! I also love your comments on detachment and humility… both need to be more a focus in my life. Thanks for a terrific column!

  2. Great reflection on the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Thank you for this reminder…I have been stripped of a great deal and have found strength and perseverance in praying the Sorrowful mysteries and spending time with Our Lord in the Garden, praying His prayer with Him (let this Cup pass me by, but not my will but Yours be done)… and then, getting up, with Him, to do His will, remembering that everything has meaning in light of Him and His Resurrection and to keep a supernatural outlook on this journey. Focusing on serving others helps me take my eyes off of myself as well…so your words of gratitude, detachment, and humility resonated with me. Of course, I am a work in progress and signposts on the way are needed and appreciated! I want to run into His arms, and not away. It’s all grace…and it takes not being afraid to surrender and to trust in His love and care for me, even when/especially when it is “hard to see.” Thank you!

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