Several of my friends are having milestone birthdays about now. At one of the most recent celebrations I enjoyed, my dear friend surprised her husband with an evening of ballroom dancing lessons with a group of their good friends. We all got dressed up and found other plans for our kids to enjoy a joyful night of fun, music, and dancing to celebrate our friend’s life. It was wonderful!
I discovered that I enjoy ballroom dancing far more than I ever imagined I would. As I glided gracefully across the floor [err shuffled stiffly], I wondered what had taken me so long to give this a try.
The instructor said I was a natural! I later concluded that he definitely says stuff like that so people will want to keep coming to dance classes, because I had never been ballroom dancing in my life. But I was feeling pretty great about the whole thing.
Now, I don’t know if this happens to you, but just when I am at the apex of an experience that leaves me feeling kind of awesome…I am always, always immediately humbled. And it happened near the end of the dance party.
I had to use the restroom, so I reluctantly left the dance floor in spite of the fun I was having. I pause here to ask your pardon for the potentially unpleasant details, but while I was “mid-stream” I got one of my signature sinus-induced nosebleeds. And it was a doozy.
Sitting in the narrow bathroom stall, with my right hand I plunged a wad of toilet paper up to my nose while frantically grabbing more toilet paper with my left hand. I rotated toilet paper wads to and from my bleeding nose and into the toilet, one after the next, for the next few minutes (occasionally having to sweep a drop or two off the floor beneath me). Then, panic struck when I realized that the toilet paper roll was empty, my nose was still bleeding, and I hadn’t wiped yet.
I had to think fast. No one else was in the bathroom. (Yet.) I quickly ran through my very limited options. And let me just say that during the next 1.2 seconds, I made the fastest bathroom stall relocation in the history of the world. Now in a new stall, with a fresh supply of toilet paper, I started the same routine, rotating toilet wads from place to place as fast as I could.
Then I heard the pitter-patter of heels. Aware that I had just used all toilet paper in the only other stall, and unable to speak thanks to the toilet paper wad consuming my face, I heard a voice next to me say, “Oh no, there is no toilet paper in here!” I needed a third hand. But, like you, I don’t have three hands!
I honestly don’t even remember how I got more toilet paper to the lady in the next stall. She might still be sitting there waiting. But, eventually, the nosebleed stopped, I pulled myself together and I got back out to that awesome party (with much of my make-up washed off and my nose all red and irritated).
I didn’t feel nearly as graceful and awesome as I’d felt just minutes earlier. My body had betrayed me. Don’t you hate it when physical limitations try to crash your fun?!
I have one funny friend whose body betrays her nearly every time she sneezes. And I’m not saying it hasn’t happened to me. I now have to have optimal lighting in order to read small print; I’ve been carrying a “readers” prescription in my wallet for over a year. And apparently arthritis of the neck is a job hazard for a writer like myself. Also? My doctor recently informed me that my septum is curved (which, in layman’s terms that I understand, means I have plenty more nosebleeds ahead of me).
I can hardly complain though. So many of my dearest friends and family members have had far more series physical challenges — joint replacements, surgeries, and life-threatening diseases.
Here’s the thing. Our bodies are going to disappoint every one of us at some point — in small ways and big ways. It’s just part of the human experience. And the older I get, the more I am reminded [daily] of II Corinthians 4:16-17:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Regardless of age, occupation, or how well we take care of ourselves, our outward selves will let us down. That’s why it is so important that we are constantly nurturing the really important stuff – the inside stuff – like character, relationships, and our souls. That is the stuff of which our legacy is made. And that stuff will far outlive our fragile frames.
You’re still awesome; still handcrafted for purposes you can’t imagine. So don’t lose heart. Keep dancing, if only in your heart.