It was June, I think, or maybe July. I’m not sure. I know it was very hot. And that Daddy was still going for treatments at the Cancer Center.
This particular day Daddy’s physical therapist, Miss Ida, whom I loved and adored from my own visit to the PT office where she worked, had helped get Daddy situated in the passenger seat of Mama’s car. Mama got in the back, and I drove the two of them down and over to Highway 96 where the Center is located about twenty minutes away from the house.
When we got there, I pulled up under the breezeway to let Daddy out as close to the door as possible. Mama went in and came back with a wheelchair. I helped Daddy turn his legs around, and then we wrapped his arms around my neck, and I lifted while he tried to help.
At this point the lymphoma was zapping his strength and his broken hip from a few months before, though healing, was hindering his physical abilities as well. I lifted, but my efforts did little to get him from the car to the chair. We tried again, and I got him up a few inches. And then…..
I almost dropped him.
He almost fell onto the edge of the car and to the pavement below.
I was mortified. Daddy was fine, but still. WHAT IF?
A kind soul happened upon us then–no coincidence at all–and she came right over, enveloped my Daddy in her arms, gently placed him in the wheelchair, waved off our thanks, and went on her way cheerfully, wishing us a good day.
It was easier getting him into the car on the way home, and somehow we got him from the car to the house without another incident.
But that moment stuck with me. My upper body strength was sorely lacking. If I couldn’t take care of my Daddy, something would have to change. Immediately. I was broken over the fact that it had been a stranger who had come to his aid–that after all he’d done for me through all the years, I couldn’t help him–unfathomable.
And so I began working out back then. Nothing too serious, just trying to build up my strength so that I could help lift him. And when he was bedridden at the end and would slide down in the bed, I was able to move him back up in the bed. I am thankful for that now.
A couple of days ago, I woke up thinking about how we work to build up muscles. How we work and push them beyond their limits to be stronger and to be able to do more with them. Almost completely recovered from a frozen shoulder, I am ready to start rebuilding my core and my ability to “lift and tote.” Mostly for groceries, but still–it’s a good thing to work on.
Then I started thinking about our hearts. And how we love.
That’s a good thing to work on too.
We don’t build up our arm muscles by continuing to do the same thing every day–by only lifting the laundry from the dryer or the groceries from the car. We have to be consistent, and we have to go outside our comfort zones to be strong and stronger. We have to lift things we wouldn’t normally lift.
I think it’s the same in building up our hearts–and our capacity to love. We don’t do it by loving the same people all the time. We do it by loving folks outside our comfort zones. And by doing it consistently. That’s the only way to build up our love muscles. Loving those we wouldn’t normally love. Going out of our way for them. For others.
And that’s the only way to build up the kingdom too.
A kingdom where I’d really like to live.
Wishing you all a day of working out–and building up those muscles. For the good of all of us.
Love to all.