in spite of the ache


Three weeks ago, I broke my ankle when the strap of my shoe got caught in the moving sidewalk at the airport.  At first I assumed it was just sprained, so I preached, flew back to San Francisco, and went to work seeing patients in clinic.  Five days later, common sense (and pain) prevailed, and I got an x-ray that showed I had, in fact, fractured my fibula. "It's one of the most painful kinds of ankle fractures you can get," my ortho doctor told me this week at my follow-up appointment.  By that point I'd polished off two bottles of Ibuprofen and spent many sleepless nights groaning in the dark so I told him that yes, I was aware of how painful it was.

Shortly after that, a person I cared for deeply pulled away, and the future plans we'd been making were suddenly off the table.

And then a job promotion I'd been offered was rescinded due to budget cuts.

And in the midst of it all, I've been working on press releases, endorsements, a new website and other preparations for the launch of my book WELL in November.

It would be enough for any one of these things to happen, but all of them, all at the same time, has been draining and discouraging.

At my ortho appointment this week, the doctor told me that my fracture can take up to 6 months to heal, and I just wanted to cry.  It made me wish that life was like a boxing ring where you can tap out when you've had enough.

I got called into work for a few hours last night, and hobbled my way through the shift. After my last patient left, I ordered a Lyft to take me home.  The drive took us over the Golden Gate Bridge, from Marin County to downtown San Francisco.   As we were crossing the bridge, it was dusk, and a pastel mist hung over the bay.

My ankle was hurting so I popped some more Ibuprofen and put in my ear buds to listen to my new favorite song, "Rise Up" by Andra Day.  In the refrain she sings,

And I'll rise up I'll rise like the day I'll rise up I'll rise unafraid I'll rise up And I'll do it a thousand times again And I'll rise up High like the waves I'll rise up In spite of the ache I'll rise up And I'll do it a thousands times again...

There's a pedestrian walkway on the bridge, and as we drove along, I noticed a young woman by herself at the top of the bridge.  She was twirling with her arms open, her eyes beaming as she smiled at the sky.  As she twirled and skipped and laughed her way across the bridge, she simply brimmed with joy.

I took a deep breath and wiped away tears as I realized that I didn't choose falling, but now that I'm down, I CAN choose to rise.  I CAN choose to persist.  I CAN choose to refuse to give up.

Maybe you need to hear these words, too.

Maybe you need to be reminded, like I do every day, that healing is coming.

That hope is possible.

That joy meets us in our sorrows and helps us rise up -- in spite of the ache.