It all started with Top Ramen.
Little 3rd grade Melissa was cooking.
Too short to reach the stove, I teetered on a footstool handmade by my great-grandfather. My dad was on the phone in the living room and my mom was working late.
They’d always warned me to turn the pot handle away from the counter edge. I seem to even remember a cartoon PSA that cautioned me of the danger. I must have forgotten, because the handle to the pot filled with boiling water and curly noodles was definitely out.
I tripped, I fell, I hit the handle and my right side was covered in scalding liquid.
Immediately dropping the phone, my dad picked me up and threw me in the shower. One moment I was screaming from the heat hitting my body, the next those shrieks were due to the freezing water I was held under.
My body shaking from shock, we took off for the hospital. First, second and third degree burns covered my right side from my shoulder to my hip. I was lathered in cooling, medicated cream and wrapped in cotton like a mummy.
The next few weeks involved daily trips to the hospital to have my bandages changed and my wounds checked. I grew fearful of anything bumping my body and barely moved my right arm.
One day the doctors told me it was time to start moving. They showed me exercises that included standing against a wall with my arm straight up in the air. The purpose was to keep my skin from sealing itself together as I healed, making it impossible for me to properly raise my arm.
I did not like this.
I wasn’t ready.
I was afraid of the pain.
They didn’t care.
It was for my own good.
I had grown accustomed to viewing myself as damaged. I was hurt and in recovery.
My parents treated me differently than my younger brother and sister. I was excused from many of my normal activities at home and school.
I was babied, coddled and catered to.
I was comfortable in this space and could have stayed there indefinitely.
However, if I didn’t start pushing myself I would never attain my previous range of motion.
I had to start moving.
The paralytic man picked up his mat and walked home.
Jairus’ daughter returned to life and ate.
The mother-in-law of Peter waited on Jesus and the disciples after He rebuked her fever.
All of these were spurred to action after they received healing.
None of them used their previous disability as a reason to be excused.
When we’ve been hurt, when we feel damaged, we lose our desire to reach beyond ourselves.
Depression causes me to spiral in upon myself, shutting out the world around me.
The more depressed I get, the smaller my focus becomes, the more isolated I feel, the deeper goes my depression.
Satan wants us to only think of ourselves when we feel weak.
It might not be depression for you. It could be a failure, an addiction, a sin, an inadequacy. All of these things are about who we are, where we’re at, what we’re capable of.
But it’s not about us.
I need to start moving to complete my healing. In caring for the needs of others I am actually made strong again.
Praying for a friend.
Bringing a meal to a sick neighbor.
Helping in the nursery at church.
Little steps that lead to bigger steps.
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
As we step forward in our weakness we can recognize that it’s by grace alone that we do what we do.
We lean into God, relying on His strength to keep us walking steady.
Dutifully I stretched my arm each day, following the doctor’s orders for my rehabilitation.
It hurt, I grumbled, but I did it.
Little did I know that those exercises would ensure I could:
do cartwheels with my children,
decorate a Christmas tree,
or raise my hands in worship to my Savior.
The small things I did then lead to big things in my life now.