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Fall Lessons

Fall Lessons

By Elisa Morgan

Over the past month or so, I’ve been learning some powerful fall lessons. I’m not talking about the season of autumn. No, these are fall lessons, as in what I’m learning from falling down.

Walking from my hotel room through the skyway into the Chicago convention center, I was looking forward to the opening general session of MOMCON. Along with the other 5,000 attendees, I was thrilled to celebrate MOPS International’s 50th anniversary (now The MomCo by MOPS International) and all God has done through this amazing ministry.

As my feet moved off the carpet and onto the gorgeous highly polished white marble floor, a woman complimented me on my glasses. I quickly turned to thank her and then pivoted to continue walking. Just then my adorable brand-new white sneakers caught on the marble floor. I tripped and my body hurled forward, smashing my left shoulder into the floor.

It's been five and a half weeks since that freak fall, and I’m still healing. This slower pace – not one that I adore – is giving me the opportunity to reflect and record some fall lessons. For me for sure. But maybe for all of us as we adjust to unexpected moments in life?

-Take a moment to orient yourself. As I laid splayed out on the convention floor, pain shot through me, and I was immediately aware that something was wrong. I also felt my inner voice screaming, Elisa sit up! You can’t stay down here in front of all these people. I tasted blood in my mouth but when I brought my right hand to my lips there wasn’t a lot of it. What I knew for sure was that something was seriously wrong with my left arm. I carefully moved myself to a kneeling position, resting my left arm in my lap. Mentally I thought through where I was, what items I had with me, and what I might need to do with myself, being so far from home. I was keenly aware of the reality that this time it was me in the “needy” position and not someone else that I was rushing to assist. Those few re-orienting minutes grounded me for what would come next.

-Ask for and receive help. Four women were immediately at my side and shortly thereafter a couple of security people. Who could I call to come be with me? Did I want an ambulance to come? Did I want a wheelchair? Lots of decisions in a moment of lots of pain. I immediately thought of a dear friend who was also attending the event. I knew she could be available and called her. I remember my words to her: I need you. An honest request for help. She came immediately, accompanied me to the hospital, stayed with me while I was examined, and then helped me get back to the hotel. I was so grateful! The ongoing need for help continued as I had to figure out a way to get around for my remaining sessions, get home with my luggage, and the ridiculousness of trying to get clothes on and off. I asked intentionally. I received gratefully. Okay, I could probably have let more people do more for self-sufficient me, but I stopped my typical “I can do all things posture” and yielded in the right direction.

-Follow instructions. At the ER I was directed to follow up at home with a specialist. Since I returned on a weekend, that meant almost four days from injury to treatment, In the wait, I did mostly what was directed: I rested, iced and medicated. Then came the directive from the specialist: “Wear this bulky enormous sling 24/7 for 6 weeks and maybe you can avoid surgery.” Check. Just found out I won't need surgery, so grateful for that! “Do the exercises given by physical therapy.” Working on those. “Rest.” Right. Sleep is now a thing of the past because of the sling and the pain. “Be still.” This instruction came from friends and family who know me well. It wasn’t wasted on me that every devotional I seem to read for over a week was on this topic.

-Prioritize. I began to let go of non-essential tasks. The wash. Making the bed. After all, I knew I’d just get back into it later. The dishes. Husband help was vital. And when I didn’t fully let go of some tasks, I allowed myself to at least delay them, spreading them out over the day in a very non-characteristic manner for my whirling dervish self. Mostly letting go wasn’t that hard - just different. But when I had to cancel my attendance at my 50th class reunion, a very important wedding, the funeral for my brother-in-law – all faraway in other states - it stung. But the decisions were necessary for healing.

-Multitask less. It gives me great pleasure to multitask, partly because I’m a three on the Enneagram and partly because it’s a leftover defense mechanism from a messy childhood where I tried to work my way out of stress through achievement. Multitasking with a fractured arm leaves me carrying too many things at a time, running into door jams, picking up things I shouldn’t pick up, and reaching in directions that cause pain without thinking. “One thing at a time” is my new mantra.

-Let your body teach you. Like so many of us new to injury or illness, I have tended to ignore my body. I just expected to get up and have my body do what it always does. But now it doesn’t. This has been a season of learning to listen more carefully to the lessons of my body, to ask for its direction, and to thank it for what it knows and does.

-Use technology. I googled for help and discovered that pressing the “command” button twice enables the dictation function on my computer. In another moment, I was able to employ my eight-year-old grandson to type as I dictated emails! My phone’s flashlight has been newly important. Protein-packed microwaveable dinners actually satisfy.

-Recognize the suffering of others. I read a blog about mirrored compassion. How true Paul’s words are that we can give to others from the compassion we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:4)! My temporary disability gives me insight into the needs of others I might otherwise miss.

-Watch for love nudges. My husband carefully removed my nail polish and tried repeatedly to pull my hair back into a ponytail. “How do girls do this? They do it like two seconds.” My daughter took me for a pedicure which cheered me. Several dear friends sent an on-the-go bouquet even though I couldn’t take it with me on the plane. My grandson’s sweet get-well drawing. One friend’s Spoonful of Comfort delivery. A care box from another friend. Texts and prayers.

-Comfort yourself. In moments when I felt uniquely low, I pulled out a fluffy comforter, grabbed my Mia, and while still in pain, rested. I took myself to see “Barbie” and let my heart be lifted with hope for women. I took walks and reveled in Fall (autumn).

I won’t pretend I’m done. And I won’t pretend that I’ll remember all of these insights once my arm heals (hopefully!). But I thought it might help to catalog them here for myself and potentially for you as well. The ongoing lesson remains: whatever we face, we do not face it alone. Our good Teacher will bring lessons for our growth and hope for our future.

Elisa Morgan is the author of You are Not Alone. She is the cohost of the podcast, God Hears Her. She is also the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her other books include, Christmas Changes Everything, When We Pray Like Jesus, Hello, Beauty Full, and The Beauty of Broken. Connect with Elisa @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.


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