I am a klutz. I’m not just a little clumsy—I’m klutzy to the point of being ridiculous. I’ve shut my hand, foot, leg, arm, head, body, and even my EAR in a car door. I’ve fallen down steps, up steps, and over steps. I’ve dropped a hot curling iron in my eye and been forced to wear an eyepatch. I’ve been hit in the face by every ball known to man—baseballs, basketballs, volleyballs, tetherballs, even ping pong balls. I’ve hopped up on a dryer to reach something behind it, ended up slamming the machine against the wall, and gotten pinned by my arm with my feet unable to reach the floor. I’ve even fallen and been pinned beneath a shut door by my long hair.
I’ll say it again, I am a klutz.
As I’ve gotten older most of my klutzy tendencies have gone away, but when I was a teenager, clumsy moves were a defining part of my life. I was all thumbs, and I had two gawky left feet just waiting to get me into trouble. I was the type of person who could stumble over the roses in the carpet. I wanted to be graceful, but most of the time I was train wreck just waiting to happen.
In spite of my klutziness, I’ve always loved hiking, and when I was about thirteen, my aunt and uncle took me and my sisters hiking on Chimney Rock in Nebraska. (Now days, you can’t go up Chimney Rock, but back then, you could hike nearly all the way up.) I was in heaven. My aunt and uncle were extremely “cool” and I loved being able to hang out with them. And being included in a hiking party with my older sisters made me feel ten-feet tall. I couldn’t wait to get started. I was ready to have a brilliantly AWESOME day. I was sure I could keep my gangly, awkward feet in line.
The day started off just as fun as I hoped. I was part of the “cool” crew. I swash buckled through the morning feeling like a star. Everything went relatively well until we got close to the top—then I started having trouble. I thought I was masking my difficulty rather well, but I didn’t object when my uncle suggested that I sit on a rock and let the older members of the party climb the trickier, rocky part up ahead. I didn’t mind being left behind. I had made it almost as far as the others, and realistically, I was a bit afraid that I was going to tumble down the mountainside if I tried to go any higher. I sat on my rock and looked out over the Nebraska landscape. It was lovely.
When the party came back, my trouble began anew. I’d been fine going up, but going down was a different kettle of fish. I kept tripping over my feet. I kept stepping on rocks that would roll underneath my feet. My uncle kept a strong hand on my arm to steady me. I was really glad for his help. When we came to a particularly steep part, he paused. We both knew I’d never make it. I wasn’t sure what to do, but my uncle did.
“Sit down,” he said, “and slide. I will catch you at the bottom.”
I blinked a little, “Are you sure???”
When my uncle nodded, I sat down and let myself slide. At first I was afraid, but my fear didn’t last long because my awesome uncle RAN beside me and caught me at the bottom of the steep place. Then he helped me over to another smooth area, where I sat down and slid again. That’s how I got to the bottom of Chimney Rock–sliding while my uncle ran beside me and caught me. Once I let go of my fear, I had a BLAST. Chimney Rock happens to be the best slide in the world!! My day didn’t go the way I expected–it went even better. Even though it was hard on the back of my blue jeans, my “hike” was awesomely fun! . . .
When I was in quarantine, NOTHING was in my control. In fact, my whole life was wildly spinning out of control. I’m the type of person who likes things neat and orderly. I like to have things planned out far in advance. I like to know what challenges are up ahead and make plans, contingency plans, and backup contingency plans to meet any possible difficulties. Multiple chemical sensitivity and quarantine blew my orderly lifestyle right out of the water. I wasn’t in control of anything—and that BOTHERED me. I would lie in bed at night and try not to panic. I would find myself obsessively cleaning cupboards in an attempt to exert some sort of control over my environment. Chaos was everywhere. Like a hamster running in its wheel, I kept trying to control something that was uncontrollable.
One day, while cleaning a cupboard for probably the seventy-fifth time, I thought about my slide down Chimney Rock. I wasn’t in control there either, but it didn’t bother me because I trusted my uncle. I knew he was fast enough, smart enough, and strong enough to keep me safe. The more I thought, the more I realized that my illness was like my slide down the mountain. God knew how to get me through illness and quarantine. He was running right beside me. He’d catch me at the bottom. I just had to decide if I was willing to relinquish control and TRUST Him.
Trust is hard for me.
Webster’s Dictionary defines trust as “assured reliance on the character, strength, or truth of someone or something.” When I was a teenager, I trusted my uncle, and while I was in quarantine, I had to learn to trust God. It wasn’t easy. On a daily basis, I had to decide that no matter how hard, how confusing, how senseless, and how hopeless my illness was—God had a good plan for my life. For me, trust didn’t come overnight—it didn’t even come over the space of months—it took years, and sometimes I still struggle with it. But one thing I’ve learned is that when I truly trust that God has everything under control, I can slide through the day with laughter in my heart and enjoy the ride.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11