If someone falls many people usually notice it, and some even rush to help. I remember, several years ago, walking into the grocery store and an older lady, on her way out of the store, fell. She was bleeding and had potentially broken a bone or two, but far above her apparent injury, she was embarrassed for the attention it brought. I get it. More recently I got it personally.
It was a beautiful morning returning home from Brooklyn obtaining her driver’s permit. Typically, I run on the treadmill before the sun is up, but that week I had spent my pre-sunrise mornings between work and waiting for the DPS to open, so I had skipped out on my routine cardiovascular exercise. I was in quite the mood of celebration from Brooklyn’s perseverance and success. The sun was bright and the weather was mild. The outdoors was calling.
Although I’ve never run outside all by my lonesome without Brandon, or Jaron, or the entire Meadows Family entourage, I am quite conditioned for our typical 1.5-mile path. So off I went with my phone in hand, my earbuds in and my timer running (Jaron would expect nothing less).
Feelings of peace came over me as I took in the cool-breeze, enjoying the great outdoors and the quietness of country living. Visions flooded my mind. Motivation rose up within me. Maybe I would sign-up for a 5K. I’ve never thought I could do it, but if a girl can go for a run outside all by herself, she’s just the type to commit to an organized run. I pictured having an official number pinned to my shirt and receiving my time as I crossed the finish line when……BAM! Onto the ground I hit!
Adrenaline is so awesome. Can’t say I didn’t feel the fall, but I wasn’t in pain. One glance at my leg and with the utmost disgust I said, “Oh great!” I knew I’d need stitches. With phone in hand I called my neighbor to come pick me up. Real runners would probably walk the three-quarter a mile back home, but obviously I am not a real runner. So here came “The Sisters” (also known as my Mom and Aunt Donna) in their big red truck to pick me up!
I got back home and washed it the best I could and headed in to the emergency room.
First of all, it’s super embarrassing to go to the emergency room when you don’t have an emergency. However, the only thing that would have frustrated me more in the moment would have been to pay an urgent care to tell me I’d need to go to the emergency department to have it stitched. Secondly, I felt humiliated to tell them my need, “I fell and need stitches.” Why is that humiliating? Because what is the next question asked? “How did you fall?” They have to rule out any potential underlying possibilities for the fall. “Oh, I was running.” “You’re a runner?” “No, not really. I usually run on my treadmill, but I decided to go run outside today.”
It’s like taking a bright yellow highlighter to the description “clumsy” hyphenated by my name. It’s like grabbing the mega-phone and saying, “Heather, the girl who can barely put one foot in front of the other, the girl who can’t chew gum and walk at the same time thought she could go for a run, but here she is in the emergency department needing stitches.”
That’s actually not the way it was at all. But that’s how I felt.
My name has never been found in the “sport” category. To me this incident supported exactly why. Until…..
Until my sweet, precious husband said to me, “I don’t know why you’re so embarrassed. You had an athletic injury. That’s something to be proud of.” Sitting there in that exam room on the gurney, I responded, “I have what?” “An athletic injury,” he said.
AN ATHLETIC INJURY?!?!?!?! Heather Renee Cochrane-Meadows (no, I’ve never hyphenated my last name, but people, I’ve been waiting my whole life for a moment like this) had an ATHLETIC injury! And you know the kind of people who get athletic injuries? Athletes! So that must mean I am—okay, I may possibly be getting a little carried away. I’ll stop.
The point is: I needed a new label. In one sentence my husband took me from wanting to crawl under a rock to walking proudly (despite the hint of a limp—but that’s beside the point).
We spend much of our life with a label we have accepted as our identity. Whether it’s a label assigned by someone else, by a circumstance or by our own self-doubt it means we live limited.
If you’ve had a fall—whether it’s an emotional fall, a spiritual fall, or even a physical fall, know that falling can only happen if you’re moving.
So many people sit back and criticize those who fall. But sitters can never fall. You have to be in motion to fall.
If you find yourself a mile from home, on the road with a busted knee and skinned hands—figuratively speaking—here are a few take-aways:
#1—Don’t be embarrassed to call for help. I definitely could have walked home, but I didn’t have to, so why do it? I knew my mom and aunt would get me back home with less pain in less time than I could on my own. Embrace the humility and let others come to your rescue. You don’t have to do it alone.
#2—Let your strengths catch you. Instead of focusing on your weakness, utilize your strength. When the ER nurse went to give me my release form she assumed I was left handed. I said, “No, I’m right handed.” Surprised she stated, “That’s something. Most people take the brunt of the fall on their dominant side.” That is true. But I’ve grown up naturally protecting my right side, the side that took the brunt of my burn injury twenty-eight years ago. My dominant side would have required a skin graft after a fall like that. My greatest benefit was falling on my stronger side.
#3—Peel off the label and grab any you like. What got me exercising years ago wasn’t that I wanted the label of “runner,” but that I wanted to peel off the label of “eating disorder.” Weight is an issue for me, and exercise has been a healthy way to deal with it. I’m certain the enemy wanted to defeat my healthy habit on the road three weeks ago, but I’m making better time today, than I was then (on my treadmill of course).
If you’ve had a hard hit, if you’ve fallen, if you’ve allowed it to define you, call for help, focus on your strengths and redefine who you are, celebrating the fact that you’re a person of movement---- and just keep moving!
Isaiah 40:29 ESV He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.
Have you confronted the limitations of labels? Please mark your calendar to join me for a Women's Night at Coweta Assembly of God on Sunday November 6th at 6pm. I'm going to share about the words we need to receive, repeat and those we need to rebuke in order to walk in the label the Lord has given us. All are welcome to attend. And if you know a teenage girl, bring her along too!
*note-- I guess nurses can be a bit gory-- or maybe it's the burn survivor in me-- but there's a few pics at the end if you like that sort of thing.
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