Ballast and Buoyancy

Weight. Gravity. Burdens.

I sit on the paper sheet at the surgeon’s office. Awaiting feedback on my healing. Awaiting x-ray confirmation or concern. Awaiting a plan.

I fell the day I moved into my new home and broke my foot. But the break, and associated ligament tear, was subtle and missed by doctors.The weight, force, and gravity deformed multiple joints. Weight is my enemy. Gravity caused the fall. Force deformed my foot. I now needed surgery to correct and realign nearly everything.

Three months ago, I had surgery. The surgeon broke bones, inserted bone grafts, aligned joints, and anchored my new foot. Ten screws, eight bones, three incisions, and two plates combined to create one new bionic foot. We would not know for months if the surgery was successful. I had to keep weight off my surgical limb for three months.

The surgeon is pleased with my alignment and healing, but now I have new issues. The lack of walking and weight on my foot that allowed it to heal has caused muscles to atrophy, joints to fuse, and bones to be weakened and fragile. The very solution of non-weight bearing that would allow my bones to heal, has also caused problems. Now I start the rehabilitation journey to gingerly increase the weight my foot can receive safely without causing a stress fracture elsewhere due to my brittle, unchallenged bones.

Weight bearing is my enemy. And non-weight bearing is also my enemy.

My soul feels so heavy – it is carrying fear, anxieties and my blocked goals. It has been bearing up under this weight for nearly a year. Will my foot heal? Will I be able to work again? Will my foot injury define my year or my life?

But mostly there’s been water imagery.

It feels like I’m in the ocean wearing a thick coat swollen with absorbed water, desperately kicking toward the surface, but being dragged down by the weight of my clothes and the cares of my heart. I gasp. I struggle. I’m taking on water. My legs cramp. My arms swipe wildly. I need rescue.

“We will not let you drown.” That’s what my family said when we knew the extent of my injury and the path that lay before me. That phrase has been a life preserver to my soul. It encompassed everything I was feeling and told me someone would enter the water with me. Someone saw my struggle. Someone would come in aid. And they have.

So, what do I do with these weights now? Previously the weight did damage. Now the weight is the answer. As I slowly build up my standing and walking tolerance with therapy, the weight is the very thing that will strengthen my bones and allow me to move more freely and confidently. What if the same were true for the weights on my soul? What if the burdens I’ve carried that kept me low were not meant to drown me, but to provide ballast to my vessel because the seas were about to get rough? What if the weights in the hull somehow — counter intuitively– led to buoyancy and stability? What if the anchor of my soul prevents sinking? What if heaviness is what keeps me from “being tossed to and fro by the waves” (Eph. 4:14)? If I were too light, and unburdened, I might be seasick from rough waters. If I were too heavy and burdened, I would sink. But the right amount of weight provides stability, perspective, and an unsinkable spirit – even in the roughest of waters.

The brokenness, despair, and downtrodden feelings that have been experienced somehow ground me, provide ballast to my soul, and buoyant hope to my spirit.

In God’s economy, nothing is as it is expected. Sorrow and suffering become grace and glory. Burdens lead to joy. Brokenness makes way for wholeness. Storms create steadiness. My imbalance, failures, and falls are followed by healing and hope.

Weight bearing is the enemy and the solution. Gravity is avoided and sought after. Burdens are the sorrow and the joy. Heaviness in the hull of my soul makes my vessel sure and steady. It doesn’t make sense, but it is beautiful.

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