When I was growing up, my family had a seasonal campsite at Robert’s Corey Lake Campground in Three Rivers, Michigan. The lake was just a few minutes walk or drive from our camper, but we also had plenty to explore when we weren’t near the lake. This part of Michigan has red sand. The sand is so red, that when we played in it, our shoes and clothes turned the same color. It was for that reason that my Mom had separate clothes and shoes for us that were for camping. My Ked shoes weren’t white for long! Most campers have awnings, but ours had been ripped off in a storm, so my Dad and Uncle had built an enclosed porch in its place. You could walk right out of the camper into the porch; it nearly doubled the space we had. Outside of the porch were red stone rectangular pavers and a wooden post, like those which hold a mailbox, only ours held a wooden sign in the shape of Illinois and an American Flag. Because we spent every weekend at the campground, from April to October, my Dad had built us a sandbox and we also had a swing set. But behind our camper, we had a metal shed. This shed held our sand toys, lawn chairs, camper repair items, and bicycles; but it also held…mice. Each time I went into the shed I would listen for squeaking or scratching sounds. I had seen mice before, and I knew they were small, but I was still afraid of them.
My parents trusted us and our campground neighbors, so we were free to ride our bikes up and down the dirt road by our camper. One day, I decided to do just that, before it was warm enough to head down to the lake. I stepped out of the porch onto the red rectangular pavers, walked across the grass and around the corner of our camper towards the shed. I unlocked the shed and slowly started sliding the door open. I slid a little bit, then listened for squeaking; slid a little bit more and listened for squeaking. Soon, the doors were open all of the way. I peered inside and did a quick glance for mice and didn’t see any. So I stepped in. The smell of mothballs and cloves, our method of warding off the mice, attacking my senses. Our bikes were always kept to the right when you walked in. Usually my brother and I’s were on the outside of the arrangement, but this time, my Dad’s bike was on the outside, blocking my bike. I went to move his bike, but I was maybe 5 years old at the time and the bike that was twice my size, shifted and fell. As I ran to move out of the way, the kickstand caught my leg and scraped it all the way from my knee down to my ankle. The pain was instant and I immediately started running back to the camper, tears streaming down my face.
My Dad heard me crying and ran out the porch door as I was coming around the corner. He asked me what happened and I told him. He picked me up and brought me inside the porch and set me on the cottage blue plastic chairs we had in our porch. My Mom came out from the camper, looked at my leg, and said the dreaded words “We’re going to need to spray it with Bactine”. More tears started flowing as I thought of the dreaded Bactine; its metal can spewing forth stinging power and pain. How I hated Bactine. My Mom brought me into the camper and sat me down on the toilet seat in the bathroom (campers aren’t known for being notoriously large). I can still see her kneeling down on the peach rug and wiping the wound off while she told me to close my eyes. She reminded me that it would hurt at first but make it feel better later. I closed my eyes and felt the cool mist of the Bactine spray my leg. She blew on it to make it dry and put a Band-Aid on the rip in my skin. And I got up, ran straight past her, and back to my Dad. (Mom’s always seem to have to play the bad guy in wound care, but that’s another story).
The last memory I have of this incident, is of me, sitting on my Dad’s lap, watching Smurfs, my trusty stuffed blue rabbit and grand master of comfort, Thumper, in my arms.
Sometimes life throws you kickstands; experiences that scrape, burn, and tear you up. Lord knows these past few weeks had me throwing up my hands and asking God “Really? The whole bike rack? I’m going to need a commercial grade sprayer full of Bactine and a bed sheet for a Band-Aid”. Sometimes we pray for the answer to end the pain and heartache, only to be given a cold shot of Bactine. But after the Bactine comes the Band-aid; and after the Band-aid the emotional release, like sitting on your Dad’s lap.
For the longest time, I had a scar from that kickstand. Every time I walked through the shed doors, I thought about that incident and remembered to be more careful or ask someone to help me move the bigger bike.
I’m starting to learn to own my scars; to trust them. I used to view them as mistakes; times when I wasn’t… perfect. While reading “Present Over Perfect” (a definite must read for anyone recovering from overachiever syndrome), I realized that I can only run from scars for so long, they’re a part of me. And without those scars, literal or figurative, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today.
I’ve always been told that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, but I don’t believe that’s true anymore. We can’t handle it all, otherwise we wouldn’t need God… which we do.
What I do believe, is that life will throw you kickstands and spray you with Bactine, but after the band-aid comes the healing, after the healing comes the scar, and after the scar comes another mile-marker on your journey. If you pray without ceasing, you might still have to endure the Bactine. God promises to answer prayers, but He doesn’t promise to answer them in the exact way we want.
Life will throw you kickstands and Bactine; I’m learning to embrace the scars as part of my journey to become an ex-overachiever…almost.