A few months back, my seven-year-old son, Marcus, sprained his ankle. The whole ordeal culminated in one of the rites of passage for us boy moms – the dreaded trip to urgent care. This trip included but was not limited to: blood curdling screams, buckets of tears, an annoyingly long wait and several rounds of I Spy to pass the time.
In the midst of the drama and inconvenience of it all, Marcus received an unexpected gift.
I saw his eyes light up at the sight of them. He couldn’t have cared less about the doctor’s instructions to rest, ice, compress and elevate the hurt ankle. He didn’t want to hear anything about stretching once a day to help in the healing process. Oh, no. He was too preoccupied with those shiny metal crutches, just sitting there grinning at the sight of them. He quickly mastered the concept of how to use them and proudly hobbled out of the door.
This moment marked the beginning of a five-day stretch of checking on Marcus, tending to Marcus, carrying Marcus’ things, making special accommodations for Marcus, and essentially planning our family’s whole life around the needs of Marcus and his beloved crutches.
Everyday, I asked Marcus to put weight on his foot, but he was reluctant to do it. Even though the doctor pointed out that stretching the damaged ligament in spite of the pain would ultimately help him feel better, Marcus was quite content to hobble around on those crutches for, well, EVER.
On day six, my husband, Luvirt, put his foot down.
“Marcus isn’t going to use those crutches today,” he said. “He’s going to walk.”
And do you know what Marcus did? You guessed it. He walked.
It occurred to me that maybe you and I have grown accustomed to carrying around some crutches of our own.
A crutch is something that we lean on to make it through life instead of standing tall and upright. It’s something that we do or use that gets us special attention, privileges or accommodations. It’s something that you and I have convinced ourselves that we just don’t have the strength of live without.
Deep down, you know that with a little hard work and determination, you could walk without your crutch, but it’s far easier to limp along and expect the people around you to pick up the slack.
And here’s the most telling characteristic of a crutch: It inhibits us from being the woman God wants us to be.
What’s your crutch? Go ahead and be honest. We all have a couple. I know I do. Here are some examples of crutches that tend to pop up in our lives:
- A bad attitude, or an overall rude or unsavory temperament
- A sharp tongue, or some other aspect of your personality that you expect others to simply accept
- An emotional wound that’s never healed, which manifests itself as unforgiveness or bitterness
- Chronic arrogance
- Anything that leads us into self-pity, like low self-esteem or reoccurring feelings of insecurity
- Biting sarcasm or a critical spirit that you use to disguise your own self-doubts
The use of a crutch symbolizes something much deeper: the need for healing. In urgent care that day, Marcus got crutches because a part of his body needed to be healed. And so it is with you and me. When it becomes apparent to you that you’re using a crutch, like a me-centered mentality, or even an addiction, that’s a sure sign that deeper healing needs to take place.
Have you noticed that your crutches can only take you so far? Marcus sure did. When he arrived at school with his crutches for the first time, he soon became bewildered at the sight of so many long, winding hallways and the reality of how much work it would take to get around the building. His crutches worked just fine at home to get him from the couch to the kitchen table, but they weren’t designed to support him through more arduous tasks. That’s why the plan was never for Marcus to hold on to his crutches long-term. The goal was always that, at some point, health would be restored and the crutches would get put away.
Your crutch can’t sufficiently support you through the tough stuff of life. You might win and argument or two. You might even feel better about yourself for a time. But the time will come when you’re confronted with the fact that your crutch is a deterrent to your spiritual health, and it’s time for you to walk.
God’s plan isn’t for you to stagger around on rickety crutches, making it the best way you can on insufficient, inadequate support. It’s for you to walk in spiritual health, wholeness and freedom, completely relying on the purposes and plans of God.
In what area of your life do you sense God saying, “Put down the crutches and walk?”
Well, all of this begs the question, “How do I let my crutch go?” This might surprise you, but simply trying harder to do better probably isn’t going to get the job done. More about that next time. Stay tuned for part 2.
P.S. I didn’t give you any Scriptures, did I? (Gasp.) Don’t worry. They’re a-comin’. 🙂 For now, how about we agree to spend some time with the Lord, asking Him to show us exactly what our crutches are?