With each day that passes (at my ripe old age) I become more keenly aware of the shape my body is in (round). Not just the fact that I’m in terrible shape mind you (because I rarely exercise), but also the substantial decline in regenerative abilities.
You didn’t know I had super powers did you?
I used to be able to get hurt or simply participate in strenuous activity and sleep off soreness and pain. Soreness and hurt seldom hung around to keep me company. We were not close.
Not so much anymore. Now, we’re the best of friends. They drop in for almost any reason at all, including sleeping in a different manner than normal.
This is completely and utterly lame.
And playing sports… don’t even get me started. There are so many things on the soccer field and basketball court that I can see happening, and I know where I’m supposed to be, but my body is not interested. A play I should have been a step faster for, a ball missed. Man, I’m tired (see: hands on knees, panting heavily).
And it’s those moments, where I feel like this mortal coil (reference: Hamlet, Act III, Scene I, line 66, for those of you who don’t know) is nothing but a hindrance.
I don’t even want to imagine 30 years from now. Or 40. Or 50.
I’m sure some of you reading this are laughing at me right now. I’m not old, I know. But I am more keenly aware of the state my body is in now than I have ever been.
As I was driving home last week from playing soccer, I started to think about how limited I am by my body.
And then it struck me.
I watch my little girl struggle with that everyday.
If you didn’t know, my daughter Riley has Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that manifests itself through developmental delays (to oversimplify terribly… if you would like more go to the link above). The delays can be physical, mental, and/or social.
So here I am, whining because I’m not in as good a shape as I used to be (my own fault), and Riley is held prisoner in her own body. (I know that might be a little over dramatic, but bear with me.)
I was helping Riley do her homework this morning. She’s supposed to draw straight lines, perhaps two inches in length from a point above to one below. And she gets a straight one about 25-30% of the time. You guide her hand, help her go slowly, and she does the next one. Sometimes its pretty straight. Sometimes its not. I could see the frustration growing on her face. He hand just won’t do what she wants it to do. (Or what her well-meaning, but over zealous father wants it to.) The motor skills required just take so much more effort to master.
But mentally she is lacking nothing. Or perhaps its socially. Maybe its both.
I’ve watched my five year old daughter work a room better than most lifetime con-men could. She is able to quickly assess a room or group of people and pick out the “suckers.” She finds the person she knows she can get the most out of and goes to work. She manipulates people (not in a negative way). She quickly learns who is susceptible and who isn’t.
This is not an indictment of people who love on Riley. I am one. It’s just a simple statement of fact that she knows how to manipulate people.
I know that she is perceptive.
You can’t read people the way she does (as quickly as she does) without being perceptive.
Which is why I wonder how aware she is of her prison: that clumsy little body that more often than not gets in her way. It hurts to think about it. The challenges she will face are far more than I have ever encountered. She will have to work harder than most to do less.
And yet, Riley is such a happy kid. All the time. She grins and the room glows. She has never met a stranger. Everyone gets a hug (if she’s not being coy for her own personal amusement).
Were I in the same situation, I feel like I would spend a great deal more time angry and frustrated than she is. I highly doubt I would possess the joy she does.
And that is the beauty and paradox of how God works through our weakness to display strength. He takes something that we view as a hindrance and uses it to show us what truly matters… and what does not.